You may know that you will be asked to submit a business case for partnership. However, the real question is what will you need to demonstrate, evidence or prove within what you submit? Wouldn’t it be nice if your firm provided a sample business case for partnership for you to see what they are looking for? Unfortunately this is rarely the case. However, if your firm has a standard form or template that it expects you to use, that can help you understand what you need to include in your business case for partnership. In this blog post, based on the real business cases for partnership I have seen, here is what I would expect to be seen in a business case for partnership – regardless of whether you are in a law, accounting, consulting or engineering firm.

Sample business case for partnership

Your firm may or may not have its own way that it wants you to present your business case. Even if it doesn’t provide you with a sample business case for partnership, most firms are likely to require these details to be included in your business case:

Outline of your current practice

Your partners want to understand the value of your current practice. This means you will need to help them understand:

  • The services you offer to your clients and the value you help them achieve
  • If you are deliver a distressed service or transactional service like insolvency or litigation, then the value of your current referral networks. This means identifying your top 10 referrers and breaking down the value of the work they sent to you.
  • The revenue you have billed by year for your top 5-10 clients for the last 3 years
  • How your practice measures up against the metrics that your firm cares about? E.g. recoverability, billings
  • The current size of the team within your practice

Sometimes firms ask their future partners to produce a business case in less than a fortnight. This has happened to at least 2 of my clients. Yes, seriously. Therefore, to help you if this happens, it is always good to keep  up-to-date headlines of what your current practice is worth to the firm.

How you plan to grow your practice over the next 3 years?

This is where you draw a picture of the opportunity that the partners have with your practice. In this you will need to show:

  • The markets and geographies you plan to target and why you have chosen these. I.e. what is the opportunity available to firm for targeting these markets and geographies?
  • The services you will offer to your clients
  • How you will compete and differentiate yourself from your key competitors
  • How you will fuel the growth of your practice? For example, will this be by growing more of your current client portfolio? Winning new clients? Cross-selling your services to the firm’s clients?
  • What are your overall objectives, which the partners could measure you on, which will demonstrate how you plan to grow your practice?
  • Revenue and profit for your practice for the next three years, broken down by year
  • Potential known risks which will stop you achieving your business case
  • The team and people resources you will need to deliver the promise of your business case

12-month marketing plan

This is your marketing plan to help you grow your practice to achieve the growth figures you are predicting for your practice. It will contain:

  • Key account plans for the clients, which you plan to grow materially in the next 12 months. These account plans will identify the opportunity with the client and your activity plan to realise this opportunity.
  • Your prospect list and your activity plan to convert these into clients
  • Your networking strategy to strengthen your referral networks
  • How you plan to build general awareness of you and what you do in the marketplace?

Critical success factors

This is where you identify:

  • The support and budget you need to achieve your business case
  • Any issues preventing or hindering the delivery of your business case? E.g. staffing, marketing budget, skill gaps

Executive Summary

This is a 3-sentence sell which succinctly articulates the commercial opportunity for the partnership with your business case. It’s also the first page of your business case (you may need to slightly ignore what your firm’s actual form for your business case asks for.

In summary,

Most business cases for partnership – regardless of whether you are at a law, accounting, consulting or engineering firm, are asking for pretty much the same stuff. I.e. any sample business case for partnership will tell you:

  • Value of current practice
  • How the practice will grow and the strategy to do this
  • What opportunities you plan to target and why
  • Overview of your 12-month marketing plan

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