Law Firm Planning to Profit: What Type of Planner Are You?

By Cheryl Leone

At Law Firm Coach we have found that planning is critical to the success of the firm. We have learned quickly there are two types of planners, the entrepreneur and the businessman.

  • The entrepreneur is more interested in the creation of the business than actually running the business. He or she may be a visionary that comes up with more variations on the plan than you can keep up with. Trying to document your plan is like trying to hit a moving target. The entrepreneur’s mode of operation is to visualize, implement, fail and retry until they get it right. They may get lucky on the first try or they may redo the plan for months. These people enjoy the creative process. They have the highest potential to create a breakthrough business and the lowest success rate. They do not mind the many iterations of the plan because it is the creative process they are focused on more so than the final results. The entrepreneur needs a details person to succeed.
  • The businessman is interested in results. He or she is probably a realist and wants to document a high success plan. This person will spend time thinking through all the variables and may spend weeks documenting the plan as the research develops. The plan will address all issues and concerns and include “what if” scenarios. The planning cycle is longer and this person has the highest success rate. Details are important to the businessman.

In general the entrepreneur does not need, or want, a detailed strategic plan. This person needs to concentrate on values and vision before they start and may end the process before doing a detailed plan. The businessman, in contrast, needs time to research and will build a strategic plan after the values and vision are documented.

There is no hard and fast rule that tells us how detailed a plan should be. In any case you should concentrate on the front of the process.

Every professional started with a dream. And after several long years of education and perhaps several years of practice, most wonder what happened to the dream. Somewhere along the path, the professional got caught up in the day-to-day survival of the business or career and those dreams have been put on the shelf.

As you develop your business, it is easy to make mistakes or leave out important elements. It is tempting to roll up your sleeves and plunge right into the details of your new business. It is also possible to get so caught up in the process of planning a business that you lose sight of what you are planning for. A business will not succeed without a strong plan.

How the plan developed was truly dictated by the personality planner type we were dealing with. We quickly discovered no one plan fits all and we have learned to customize and develop plans that fits like a glove with the owner of the plan. It is only when you take into account the attributes of the owner will the plan succeed. If we take our visionary and create a plan of details his focus is not on the details but the end game result. This usually results in the owner either hiring us or appointing someone internally to create benchmarks and accountability.

We challenge anyone who wants to change the direction of his or her life to take a weekend and think about his or her vision of where he or she wants to be down the road. Think about your personal needs and your professional goals. If these do not “mesh,” you have set yourself up to fail.

Perhaps all this talk of strategic planning is too complex. Let’s just look at the basics: what do you want, why do you want it, when do you want it, and how are you going to get it? Answer those questions and you have your strategic plan. Another variation: where are you going, why are you going there and who is going with you?

Our first meeting, usually on our back porch, has one simple question: Are you living the life you want?

About the Authors

Principals Dave Favor and Cheryl Leone are the founders of Catalyst Group, Inc. with its corporate offices in Raleigh, North Carolina. Rounding out the Coaches is Attorney Carl Solomon of Columbia, South Carolina. They share a common value and belief system that everyone deserves a chance to work for themselves and do it in such a way that it is profitable, enjoyable and respected by others. For more information email our Head Coach.

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