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Writing your business case for partner – can it really be done in a weekend?

Although you’ve had your eye on partnership for years, sometimes it happens that when the opportunity arises, you are not ready.  More than one of our clients – Big 4 included – have had a request for a partnership business plan sprung on them at short notice.  There is no need to worry – in this article, I give you some tips on how to write a great business case in a very short amount of time.

Can you really write a winning business case in a weekend?

Well, it’s not something I would ever advise as part of a career plan! But yes! It can be done. The trick is to stay focussed and avoid the temptation to throw in everything, including the kitchen sink, under the mistaken belief that more is more.

Forget perfection

Of course you want it to be the most outstanding business case your partners have ever read. It is probably one of the most important documents you will write in your career, and you want it perfect. However, you don’t have time for perfect. Drop that expectation at the start and aim for good. A good business case is good enough.

Get what you need before last thing on Friday

You will need key numbers from the firm’s systems to include in your business case.  If you cannot access the systems remotely – or if there is a tendency for your link from home to be unreliable – then pull together the data you need before leaving the office.  My posts on what to include in your business case for partner will give you a start on what you need. At the very least:

  • Utilisation for the past 3 years.
  • New business you have won, by year, for the past 3 years – split into work from existing clients, work from new clients, work your team has serviced, work you have brought in for other parts of the firm.
  • Any other measurements that are important to your firm. E.g. billing, recovery, WIP.

Start with the executive summary

I know this sounds strange – how can you summarise something before it’s written?  But it’s the best way to keep yourself focussed on what’s really important.  Your partners don’t have time (or inclination) to read scores of pages of detail.  Write the summary of 3 strong reasons why you should be admitted to the partnership.  Once you have these three reasons, they can be expanded into the full business case.  The free guide to creating a business case for partnership includes details on how to write your executive summary.

Use bullet points

After you have written the summary, write the rest of the business case starting with the headlines.  A blank page is daunting, but once you have a series of bullets of what you want to say, it’s easy to arrange them into a coherent order and then fill them out with figures, facts, and evidence.  This not only cuts down on the waffle, but also helps you over periods of writer’s block.

Get rid of the jargon

We all talk in jargon within our silos.  But don’t assume the partners will understand the terms and acronyms from your practice area.  If they can read your business case easily and instantly understand the message you want to convey, they will thank you for it.

Make every word deserve its place

Lack of focus, jargon, and waffle are the most common problems I see with partnership business cases.  Most of them could lost 30-50% of content and actually be better and stronger cases as a result. Starting with the summary, as already suggested, will help keep it succinct.

Verify and quantity your claims

A business case for partnership can easily become just one long document telling the partners what they already know: that you are great.  If they didn’t think highly of you, you wouldn’t be asked to go for partner.  However, they may be reading several other business cases from people also reminding them how talented they are.  Make yours memorable by backing up every claim you make with with facts.

Read more about how to write a cast iron business case on the How To Make Partner website. You can also download a free guide to creating a business case for partnership, which includes a template and sample business cases that have been successful for others.

This post originally appeared in a different form on the How To Make Partner website.

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This article originally appeared in a different form on the How To Make Partner website.

Heather Townsend helps professionals become the The Go-To Expert. She is the author of the  award winning and best-selling book on business networking, the ‘FT Guide To Business Networking’, Poised for partnership and the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’, and ‘The Go-To Expert’. Over the last decade she has worked with over 300 partners; coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. 

Heather blogs regularly at How to make partner and still have a life and works with future and current Big 4 partners and professionals from mid-tier firms all over the world

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