System # 1: Strategic Planning System – Aligning Your Business With Your Personal Values
Ask an attorney how they spend their time and they’ll likely have a long list of tasks on their agenda.
Client meetings, answering emails, doing legal work and of course, dealing with all the various interruptions that occur on any given day. In fact, it’s not unusual to find that most attorneys spend the majority of their time working “in” the business.
But if you want your practice to be more than just a place to pass the time, then you need to step back from that “working in the business” philosophy and instead, learn to “work ON the business”.
The best way to do this is to implement a Strategic Planning System into your business model. This system is essentially a building block approach to transforming your law practice into the business you’ve envisioned.
At the Academy, we use a three step process, fashioned after the Strategic Planning System featured in Michael Gerber’s best-selling book, The E-Myth:
1. Create your Primary Aim
Your Primary Aim is basically your ideal image of what you’d like your life to be. Start by asking the question “what’s my idea of a perfect day?” Not just a work day mind you… your entire day. What do you want it to look like? How would you spend your time?
A great exercise to help with you with this task is to take a piece of paper and create three columns:
The first represents what you do not want in your day, but currently have. The second column represents those things that you want to keep… that is, the things you DO WANT in your day. In the third column, list what gets in the way… interruptions, busy work… What is it that keeps you from creating your perfect day?
So what does get in your way? The answer we hear most is that YOU get in your own way. The trick is to recognize your patterns of interference and commit to do something about them.
Knowing what your perfect day looks like begins to set standards for you to effectively measure your progress. It also gives you a foundation for making decisions about how you spend your time.
2. Create your Strategic Objective
Once you’ve created your Primary Aim, you can decide what kind of law practice you would need to have to support that perfect life. This is where your Strategic Objective comes into play.
Your Strategic Objective is essentially a detailed plan of your practice:
- What services will you offer? Will you do basic Estate Planning only or will you also offer Asset Protection, Elder Law and Probate?
- What are your yearly goals? What kind of profit do you want? How many employees?
- What markets will you target? Retired? Young affluent? Who makes up your ideal client base?
- What’s your competitive advantage? How do you differ from the competition? What’s your unique selling proposition?
Answering these questions gives you a path to follow. You begin to see the steps needed to move forward toward the life you want in your Primary Aim. Use these same questions to map out your firm for one year, five years and even ten years down the road and you’ll see your “Big Picture” really start to take shape.
3. Create your Organizational Strategy
Unlike what you may have seen in the past, this is not just a list of who works in your firm.
Instead, we’re going to go a little deeper than that and assign responsibilities as well.
You can start by taking a blank sheet of paper and drawing a box at the top. Write your name here, because you’re in charge. Now, branching out from that box, draw five more, labeled as follows:
- Lead Generation / Marketing
- Conversion / Consulting With Prospects
- Fulfillment/Getting the Work Done
Under the Lead Generation box, draw a separate box for every type of marketing program you’re going to have. Do the same for the other four boxes and then go back and fill in the names of who will do what (this is the quickest way to see if you’re spending your time in areas that should be delegated to someone else.)
Now we’re clear on the kind of life you want; a detailed picture of how your law firm will support it and who will be responsible for making it all happen… a virtual blueprint for your business.
And with that blueprint in hand, all that’s left is to start building.