Business Plan 101: Why You Need One, What's In It - Strategist
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Business Plan 101: Why You Need One, What's In It

To start, or not to start, that's the question you've been pondering for some time. Maybe you're taking a leap from law firm or government practice to start your own, maybe you're a new graduate, maybe you've already started your own firm.

Wherever you are in the decision process -- even if you've already started -- consider writing a business plan, because you are after all, starting a business.

Why You Need a Business Plan

A business plan is your road map; it allows you to set goals and form strategies. If you take the process seriously and do some soul searching, you may find that what you actually want, is different from what you thought you wanted. Well-written business plans can also be used as a sales tool whether you're trying to get financing, bring on a partner, or get bought out by a larger firm.

What Goes In a Business Plan

A good business plan will answer all the W (and one H) questions ...

Who

  • Who are the lawyers in your practice?
  • Will you work solo?
  • Who will cover for you?
  • Who will you refer to?
  • Who are your clients?
  • Who are your business contacts?
  • Who are potential clients?

What

  • What is your practice area?
  • What corporate structure will you use?
  • What special skills do you have?
  • What equipment do you need?
  • What will your firm policies be?
  • What kind of firm culture do you envision?
  • What will you charge?

When

  • When do you see yourself starting your practice?
  • Create a timeline to get the practice started.

Where

  • Where will your firm be located?
  • Will you work remotely?

How

  • How will you gain more business?
  • How will you finance your firm?
  • How will you maintain records?
  • How will you bill?
  • How will you pay for malpractice insurance?
  • How will you market your firm?

Why

  • Why do you want to work for yourself?
  • What is the back story?

If you are following a template, be sure to delete sections that are not relevant to practicing law. For more detail on the questions you should consider, and information you should include, in writing your business plan, the New York City Bar Association put together a concise guide to writing a business plan for lawyers.

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