business case for partnership

Despite your best intentions, sometimes you have to write your business case for partnership really quickly. Maybe, as has happened for some of our clients, your partnership sprung the need for a business case on you. Our Big 4 as well as law firm clients have experienced this. Or maybe you’ve never quite had the headspace or time to get your business case down on paper. Life happens like that sometimes. In this article, I share tips how you can write your business case in double quick time. 

Business case for partnership: Is it possible to write it in a weekend?

In an ideal world, you would not be writing your business case for partnership in a weekend. However, sometimes it doesn’t quite work out that way. It is possible to write a credible partnership business case that quickly if you stay focused and avoid the temptation to brain dump a stream of conscious rambling onto paper.

Good is good enough

Your business case for partnership is one of the most important documents you will write in your career. As a result, it is only natural to want it perfect. Given the fact you are under immense pressure to write your business case, don’t strive for perfection. You don’t have time for this. Good is good enough. If it helps, your partners don’t have time to read  a ‘War and Peace’ type of business case for partnership.

Get the numbers you need before you leave the office

There will be key numbers that you will need before you start writing your business case. If you can’t access your firm’s systems remotely, you will need to make sure you have these key figures before you start writing. These are likely to be:

  • utilisation for the last 3 years,
  • new business you have won by year for the last three years. This may be 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 to service, plus
  • any other metrics your firm cares about, e.g. recovery, WIP, billing.

Write the executive summary first

It can be very tempting to want to include everything which strengthens your case to make partner. I’ve read some business cases which seem more like a stream of conscious thought than a clearly articulated and laid out persuasive case for admittance to the partnership. Therefore, avoid doing the brain dump on what could go into your business case. Start by writing a 3-4 paragraph executive summary of the top 3 reasons why your partners should admit you to the partnership. These three reasons can then be expanded into your full business case. In our business case template, which can be downloaded as part of your free create your business case for partnership guide, there are detailed instructions on how to create your executive summary.

Get rid of the jargon

I  remember reading one business case for partnership which had 2 different names for the same service and 2 different acronyms for the service stream. Confusing!  Particularly if you are in a big firm, don’t assume that partners from other parts of the firm will recognise the jargon that your department uses on a daily basis. The simpler the business case is to read, the greater impact your words will make.

Make each word fight to be included

The most common problem I see with business cases is waffle. Either flowery marketing speak, which has no place in a business case, or extra detail which detracts from the core themes of the business case. Most business cases that I have read could have third to a half deleted and in the process increase the impact multiple times over.

Verify and quantify

Anyone can say “I’m great” in a business case. In fact many business cases are a 5000 essay which can be boiled down to “I’m great”. Your partners already know that you are great, otherwise you wouldn’t be up for partner. They will also be reading many other business cases of highly talented professionals all vying for a partnership position. What you need to do is remove the hyperbole and replace it with facts, credibility statements, and credibility stories. These need to verify and quantify exactly how good you are, and how the promise of your business case translates into a great investment for the partners.

Use bullet points and then expand

To help cut down the time you are writing your business case write it in headlines with supporting bullet points. Keep each set of bullet points down to less than 5. Then expand the bullet points into sentences or a paragraph. Using this technique helps cut out the waffle but also helps you avoid writer’s block.

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