Business planning in 2016 – some issues to consider

18 January 2016

We are now two weeks into the New Year and many Managing Partners will either be embarking on their latest strategy or possibly beginning to plan for the year ahead if their year-end is in the spring.

Wherever you are in the new planning cycle here are some questions you may like to consider during your preparations;

  1. Is the strategy and direction of the business clearly defined and agreed by all the stakeholders?
  2. Do you have visibility of income? If so for how long?
  3. Where do you get your work from & why do clients use you?
  4. How much new work has been developed in the last 12 months?
  5. How closely are you managing the risks to your business?
  6. How do you intend to exploit opportunities, new and old?
  7. Do you understand your cost of production and do you price accordingly?
  8. Are any of your team busy fools and if so how will you tackle the issue?
  9. What changes could you implement to make the business stronger?
  10. Is there anything out of your control that could badly damage your business?

I think 2016 will again present some great opportunities for legal businesses, but that does not mean it will be easy and I fear we will continue to see failures as we did last year.

Competition within professional services has never been tougher, especially as new entrants in the legal sector begin to find their feet and gain some traction. We have already seen Co-Op Legal Services announce an acquisition this year which shows that they mean business and I am certain others will follow suit as the market consolidates and firms look to create critical mass and economies of scale so as to boost returns.

If I was going to give top billing to any one issue it would be item 3, route to market. Preserving a work pipeline and nurturing both existing clients and new opportunities is vital to the success of any professional services business and law is no different.