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Planning for Success Doric E. Earle, MBA [email_address] www.doric.us 214-502-6472 Seven “Solo” Survivor Tips
WIIFM What’s in it For ME? <ul><li>Reinforce things you are doing right from a business and practice management perspectiv...
Agenda <ul><li>Think Like a CEO: Your Practice  is  a Business </li></ul><ul><li>What’s Your Situation?  </li></ul><ul><li...
Definitions <ul><li>An entity’s business plan is a formal document that communicates its goals, directions, and desired ou...
#1. Think Like a CEO: Your Practice  is  a Business <ul><li>It’s a rare practice that is accidentally financially successf...
The Planning Process <ul><li>INFORMATION GATHERING AND ANALYSIS (SWOT): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1a - INTERNAL ASSESSMENT  </...
#2. What’s Your Situation?  <ul><li>Business focus - What kind of law are you best at?  </li></ul><ul><li>Mgmt Style - Are...
More Detailed Questions  <ul><li>Although it seems like common sense, these are the kind of things that are forever trippi...
Situational Assessment Using SWOT:  Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats <ul><li>The most important activity in y...
SWOT DEFINES YOUR…. <ul><li>Your legal knowledge and expertise  </li></ul><ul><li>Your relevant life experiences </li></ul...
#3. Write it Down, Make Your Plan <ul><li>Based on your SWOT what’s your business plan?  </li></ul><ul><li>What are your g...
Basic Business Plan Should…. <ul><li>Be harder to create than to maintain  </li></ul><ul><li>Focused on goals and objectiv...
A Mind Map <ul><li>Augment traditional plan with this visual map of your practice </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to follow logic f...
#4. Cash is King: Know Your Numbers <ul><li>Accounting and financial management must be part of your routine.  </li></ul><...
Financial Questions to Ask Yourself <ul><li>Do you know how capital you need to run your practice for a year?  </li></ul><...
Use a Simple Financial Tracking Spreadsheet to Manage Your $ Source: State Bar of Texas  Financial  Planning
Then “See” Where Your $ Are Going  <ul><li>By keeping up with your monthly cash flow you can track your expenses, see wher...
#5. There is no “I” in Team :  Solo Means Solo <ul><li>Going solo means traveling light – keep your team virtual and or te...
A Virtual Office  <ul><li>What tasks can you assign to a Virtual Assistant? </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare wills, powers of att...
#6. The Sustainability Drivers: Marketing & Sales <ul><li>Internet and social media tools allow you to stay in touch with ...
Circle of Effectiveness <ul><li>Where do you fall on this continuum?  </li></ul>Operational Efficiency (Low Cost) -  Fast,...
<ul><li>Old Marketing Fading </li></ul><ul><li>Digital marketing is  </li></ul><ul><li>greatly increasing, while  </li></u...
What Can Social Media Do 4 U? Connect with individual clients Share content, photos Write a blog Marketing Planning
#7. Take the Map Out Again :  Are   You On Course?   <ul><li>Regular self-assessment and metrics keep you on course – mana...
The Planning Process <ul><li>A business plan can take as little as a few days or as long as several months to write – depe...
Prioritizing Planning Actions Legend: #1 – Prepare goals & objectives – what business are we in? Are we doing the right, s...
Appendix: Examples, Web Sites <ul><li>The multitude of Social Media Sites </li></ul>
Social Media and Other Useful Sites <ul><li>http://www.dallasbar.org/ </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.businessweek.com/smallb...
FreeMind
Contact Information <ul><li>Doric E. Earle, MBA </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>www.doric.us </li></ul...
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Sole Practitioner, Business Planning Tips

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Seven survival tips for solo practitioners (Attorneys, Architects, Doctors) - Tips on why and how to create a simple business plan. Tips on how to create a virtual office and how to create a sustainable practice using social media. Introduction to FreeMind as a planning tool.

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Sole Practitioner, Business Planning Tips

  1. 1. Planning for Success Doric E. Earle, MBA [email_address] www.doric.us 214-502-6472 Seven “Solo” Survivor Tips
  2. 2. WIIFM What’s in it For ME? <ul><li>Reinforce things you are doing right from a business and practice management perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Introduce potentially new concepts and tools with respect to planning and managing your practice </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss social media as a tool for marketing your practice </li></ul><ul><li>Provide sources of additional information regarding planning </li></ul>
  3. 3. Agenda <ul><li>Think Like a CEO: Your Practice is a Business </li></ul><ul><li>What’s Your Situation? </li></ul><ul><li>Write it Down, Make Your Plans </li></ul><ul><li>Cash is King: Know Your Numbers </li></ul><ul><li>There is No “I” in Team : Solo Means Solo </li></ul><ul><li>The Sustainability Drivers: Marketing & Sales </li></ul><ul><li>Take the Map Out Again : Are You On Course? </li></ul><ul><li>Appendix – Examples, URLs, related info </li></ul>
  4. 4. Definitions <ul><li>An entity’s business plan is a formal document that communicates its goals, directions, and desired outcomes to various audiences </li></ul><ul><li>The goal of business planning is to anticipate and accommodate the future by identifying issues, opportunities, and problems </li></ul><ul><li>A business plan should be a living document that gets reviewed and updated as circumstances warrant </li></ul>
  5. 5. #1. Think Like a CEO: Your Practice is a Business <ul><li>It’s a rare practice that is accidentally financially successful. </li></ul><ul><li>Regardless of the type of law you practice or how good a lawyer you may be, you must view your practice as a business. </li></ul><ul><li>Neglecting business fundamentals will ruin your practice, in a hurry. </li></ul><ul><li>The way to avoid disaster is to plan. </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Planning Process <ul><li>INFORMATION GATHERING AND ANALYSIS (SWOT): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1a - INTERNAL ASSESSMENT </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1b - EXTERNAL ASSESSMENT </li></ul></ul><ul><li>IDENTIFICATION OF CRITICAL ISSUES FACING THE ORGANIZATION. </li></ul><ul><li>DEVELOPMENT OF GOALS AND OBJECTIVES. </li></ul><ul><li>FORMULATION OF STRATEGIES FOR EACH GOAL/OBJECTIVE. </li></ul><ul><li>PREPARATION FOR OPERATIONAL PLANNING BASED ON THE PLAN GOALS (DEVELOPING ANNUAL OBJECTIVES). </li></ul><ul><li>DEVELOP FINANCIAL AND MARKETING PLANS ALIGNED WITH OBJECTIVES DEVELOPED FOR YOUR PLAN. </li></ul><ul><li>CREATE METRICS WITH WHICH TO MEASURE YOUR SUCCESS. CREATE REPORTING PROCESS & OUTPUT SHOWING METRICS. </li></ul><ul><li>(MOST IMPORTANT) REVIEW PLAN REGULARLY, MAKE ADJUSTMENTS, MOVE FORWARD. </li></ul>
  7. 7. #2. What’s Your Situation? <ul><li>Business focus - What kind of law are you best at? </li></ul><ul><li>Mgmt Style - Are you detail oriented or big picture? </li></ul><ul><li>Efficiency -Are you using your time efficiently? </li></ul><ul><li>Market Position - Who are you competing against? </li></ul><ul><li>Profitability - Are you managing your finances properly? </li></ul><ul><li>Planning - Do you have a one year, two year or three year view of your practice? </li></ul>Info. gathering activity
  8. 8. More Detailed Questions <ul><li>Although it seems like common sense, these are the kind of things that are forever tripping up solo practitioners (attorneys, doctors, architects, artists and musicians, among others): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cash flow – regular billings, collections, expense forecast, emergency reserves, investment capital, taxes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing – finding new clients, understanding your market, defending your market, branding and differentiation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Resources – leaving enough time to do the work, knowing where to turn to get temporary help, not adding staff. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Technology – avoiding using too much or too little technology for your circumstance. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>AND PLANNING! See the above! </li></ul></ul>Info. gathering activity
  9. 9. Situational Assessment Using SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats <ul><li>The most important activity in your business planning effort, something that can save considerable heartburn as you practice your craft, is to truly assess your self and your practice. We do not do everything well. We are not the only game in town. Clients come and go. A semi-annual SWOT can be liberating and practice-saving. </li></ul>Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats Internal External Helpful Harmful Info. gathering activity
  10. 10. SWOT DEFINES YOUR…. <ul><li>Your legal knowledge and expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Your relevant life experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Effort and capital invested in your practice </li></ul><ul><li>Talented staff or associates </li></ul><ul><li>Your family </li></ul><ul><li>Your network </li></ul><ul><li>Business plan </li></ul><ul><li>Organization </li></ul><ul><li>Cash management </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing </li></ul><ul><li>All the admin stuff you hate to do </li></ul><ul><li>Other attorney practices </li></ul><ul><li>Capitalization </li></ul><ul><li>The economy </li></ul><ul><li>Tax liability </li></ul><ul><li>Other? </li></ul>STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES OPPORTUNITIES THREATS <ul><li>New area of interest or expertise </li></ul><ul><li>New alliances </li></ul><ul><li>Assumption of someone’s practice or clients </li></ul><ul><li>Optimized efforts allow more client cases </li></ul>Info. gathering activity
  11. 11. #3. Write it Down, Make Your Plan <ul><li>Based on your SWOT what’s your business plan? </li></ul><ul><li>What are your goals and objectives? </li></ul><ul><li>Brainstorm, outline how you will handle money/collections, new client intake, client problems, your banking relationships, marketing, your activity. </li></ul><ul><li>Think about your goals and how to measure whether you have reached them – not as easy as it sounds. </li></ul><ul><li>Where do you want to be in one, two, five years? </li></ul>Goal setting activity
  12. 12. Basic Business Plan Should…. <ul><li>Be harder to create than to maintain </li></ul><ul><li>Focused on goals and objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Map actions to get from current state to desired future state </li></ul><ul><li>Be easy to read </li></ul><ul><li>Be useful for banks, potential partners, other interested parties as it demonstrates you are not just “winging it” </li></ul><ul><li>Executive Summary </li></ul><ul><li>Practice Description - Law Specialty, Board Certifications, Degrees </li></ul><ul><li>Practice Structure & Organization </li></ul><ul><li>External/Internal Assessment - SWOT </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing Plan </li></ul><ul><li>Financial Plan </li></ul><ul><li>Operational Plan </li></ul><ul><li>Feedback & Adjustment Cycle </li></ul><ul><li>Appendices – Financials, etc </li></ul>Simple Plan TOC
  13. 13. A Mind Map <ul><li>Augment traditional plan with this visual map of your practice </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to follow logic flow of your activities, priorities </li></ul>Source: http://freemind.sourceforge.net Operational Planning
  14. 14. #4. Cash is King: Know Your Numbers <ul><li>Accounting and financial management must be part of your routine. </li></ul><ul><li>Collections, cash flow, expense management – knowing your financial situation at all times is vital (duh). </li></ul><ul><li>Setting aside money for and filing appropriate tax returns and payments is often overlooked. IRS hates that! </li></ul>Financial Planning
  15. 15. Financial Questions to Ask Yourself <ul><li>Do you know how capital you need to run your practice for a year? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How much overhead can you afford? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How much of a draw (salary) do you need to survive? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is your projected tax liability? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Do you have clients ready and waiting? How long will that supply last? How will you promote your practice? Can you afford them? </li></ul><ul><li>Where will you work? Hold client conferences? Who will answer the phone? Can you survive with only a part time admin.? </li></ul><ul><li>What is your profit target? </li></ul>Financial Planning
  16. 16. Use a Simple Financial Tracking Spreadsheet to Manage Your $ Source: State Bar of Texas Financial Planning
  17. 17. Then “See” Where Your $ Are Going <ul><li>By keeping up with your monthly cash flow you can track your expenses, see where you are spending your $. </li></ul>Financial Planning
  18. 18. #5. There is no “I” in Team : Solo Means Solo <ul><li>Going solo means traveling light – keep your team virtual and or temporary, avoid long-term investments. </li></ul><ul><li>Leverage technology, use the Internet, Shareware, Blogs, Virtual Assistants, Air Card. </li></ul><ul><li>Use tools like FreeMind, Excel, Quickbooks, ProDocs, Westlaw, Replicon, Orbitz. </li></ul>Operational Planning
  19. 19. A Virtual Office <ul><li>What tasks can you assign to a Virtual Assistant? </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare wills, powers of attorney, corporate documents, agreements, legal forms, and court forms from precedents, digital dictation sent by .wav files, emails and fax; </li></ul><ul><li>Attend the court office to file documents; </li></ul><ul><li>Attend adjournments and to set trial dates; </li></ul><ul><li>Work on backlog in document production; </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare financial and do daily accounting; </li></ul><ul><li>Assemble the information (such as photos and documents) for evidence books; </li></ul><ul><li>Complete reporting letters and post closing follow-ups using merge letters and a summary; </li></ul><ul><li>Transcribe the recording of meetings; </li></ul><ul><li>Attend discoveries to take notes and to transcribe; </li></ul><ul><li>Answer forwarded phones, arrange for courier pickups and deliveries, make travel arrangements, and order supplies. </li></ul><ul><li>TOOLS: </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual Assistants </li></ul><ul><li>ProDocs, Westlaw </li></ul><ul><li>Other Law Apps. (Docket, Calendar, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>MSOffice, Google Docs, Adobe Suite </li></ul><ul><li>Quickbooks, MSMoney </li></ul><ul><li>eFax, Skype, AIM </li></ul><ul><li>Webex, GoToMeeting </li></ul><ul><li>FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, Digg, Blogs, SlideShare, RSS </li></ul><ul><li>Laptop, Air card, Web-backups, wireless printer, PDA </li></ul>Operational Planning
  20. 20. #6. The Sustainability Drivers: Marketing & Sales <ul><li>Internet and social media tools allow you to stay in touch with clients through frequent blogs, tweets, article posts and e-mails. </li></ul><ul><li>With social and other marketing tools – “U 2 can ‘tweet’”. 140 characters is good for pointing your clients to an article or blog of interest. </li></ul><ul><li>You must always be thinking how to land your next client, next engagement and expand your network…..always! </li></ul>Marketing Planning
  21. 21. Circle of Effectiveness <ul><li>Where do you fall on this continuum? </li></ul>Operational Efficiency (Low Cost) - Fast, cheap, high churn <ul><li>Customer Loyalty </li></ul><ul><li>(Trusted Partner) </li></ul><ul><li>Expensive but durable </li></ul><ul><li>Consider 80/20 rule </li></ul>Circle of Effectiveness - Best results by Balancing all 3 <ul><li>Innovation (Creativity) </li></ul><ul><li>Time consuming </li></ul><ul><li>Game changing </li></ul>Operational Planning
  22. 22. <ul><li>Old Marketing Fading </li></ul><ul><li>Digital marketing is </li></ul><ul><li>greatly increasing, while </li></ul><ul><li>traditional marketing is </li></ul><ul><li>decreasing. </li></ul><ul><li>Many of the popular </li></ul><ul><li>digital marketing </li></ul><ul><li>channels (YouTube, </li></ul><ul><li>Google, Facebook) </li></ul><ul><li>provide special </li></ul><ul><li>opportunities for </li></ul><ul><li>nonprofits & small biz </li></ul>
  23. 23. What Can Social Media Do 4 U? Connect with individual clients Share content, photos Write a blog Marketing Planning
  24. 24. #7. Take the Map Out Again : Are You On Course? <ul><li>Regular self-assessment and metrics keep you on course – manage your goals, set / achieve your milestones and know when it is time to change direction. </li></ul><ul><li>Most plans fail because they are rarely looked at again once they are created. </li></ul><ul><li>Create a plan that is simple but meaningful to you. </li></ul>Review & Adjust
  25. 25. The Planning Process <ul><li>A business plan can take as little as a few days or as long as several months to write – depends on time, source data and desire. </li></ul>Start Review & Adjust What is your Practice Focus? SWOT Build Sub-plans. Put it All Together. Review Regularly & Adjust.
  26. 26. Prioritizing Planning Actions Legend: #1 – Prepare goals & objectives – what business are we in? Are we doing the right, smart things? #2 – Determine current organization status – health check #3 – Identify & begin writing business plan #4 – Establish budget & operational / marketing plan #5 – Execute Plan #6 –Active participation in networking activities #7 – Review and adjust business plan Review & Adjust
  27. 27. Appendix: Examples, Web Sites <ul><li>The multitude of Social Media Sites </li></ul>
  28. 28. Social Media and Other Useful Sites <ul><li>http://www.dallasbar.org/ </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/ </li></ul><ul><li>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.linkedin.com </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.plaxo.com </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.twitter.com </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.google.com , www.youtube.com </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.flickr.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.facebook.com </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.myspace.com </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.digg.com </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.doshdosh.com/list-of-social-media-news-websites/ </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.sitesketch101.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/ </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.virtualassistantsdfw.com/Services.html </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.blawlog.com/2009/01/everything-but-hot-coffee-virtual.html </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/mgt04062.shtml </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.flock.com </li></ul><ul><li>http://freemind.sourceforge.net (Freemind mind mapping SW) </li></ul>
  29. 29. FreeMind
  30. 30. Contact Information <ul><li>Doric E. Earle, MBA </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>www.doric.us </li></ul><ul><li>214-502-6472 </li></ul><ul><li>Linkedin.com, plaxo.com </li></ul>

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