Your homework BEFORE you write your business case for partnership

Heather Townsend
The Excedia Group
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We have previously considered what you need to put in your personal business case for partnership, and why you should not get fixated on your technical ability in your personal business case. In today's post we are going to focus on what you need to do BEFORE you actually start writing your business case for partnership.

Regardless of whether your business case is a simple one pager or a war and peace style document, the actual writing of your personal business case for partnership is the last part of the process. Ideally you want to be starting to build your business case at least 18-24 month before you are formally asked to produce it. Don't worry if you haven't given yourself this amount of breathing space, with focus and a good plan you can still make up the time.

Let's consider when you need to be thinking about your business case.

Your firm is likely to have its own process for admitting partners to the partnership. Ask your HR director, HR business partner for your business unit, head of department, mentor or partner to find out what the process is. When you know the process you can formally plan who you will speak to and what you will do. (Essential if you don't want to waste time) You may be lucky and find that your partnership either has a very informal process without the need for a business case, or a very clear process which is well documented, with a transparent timeframe.

"The starting point is to understand the process and what the business case looks like and how the business case fits into the process.

Darryn Hedges, Global Finance Director Marks and Clerk LLP"

The next stage is to take a step back and do your homework on the business. Imagine you are an external consultant advising your firm, what would you recommend to help them:

  1. Strengthen the weaknesses in the partnership - be that technically, leadership, financially or commercially
  2. Transition (whether forcible or otherwise) partners who are likely to retire in the near future
  3. Help the partnership achieve it's long term business goals and strategic objectives
To help you complete this work, take some time to speak to partners across your firm - in particular the movers and shakers within the partnership. This actually has a three-fold benefit to you. Firstly, you get to understand from the horse's mouth what the partnership will be looking for in its new partners. Secondly, you alert them to your career intentions. Finally, you can elicit their views as to where you would best fit into the partnership and the skills (technical or otherwise) you will need to develop to be in with a good chance of making the step up.
If you would like a free guide to writing your personal business case for partnership, click here (email required).

In summary...

You have 2 things to do before starting to write your personal business case for partnership:

  1. Find out the process that your firm uses to admit new partners to the partnership
  2. Do your homework and find out what the firm needs from it's new partners

About Heather Townsend

Heather Townsend is a brand ambassador for the Practice Excellence Programme, and the Founder of ‘The Accountants Millionaires’ Club’. In 2015 the ICAEW decided she was the number one online influencer for the accountancy profession. She is the author of 4 books, including The Go-To Expert, and ‘How to make partner and still have a life’ (co-authored with Jo Larbie).

Heather is always up for a challenge. Perhaps that is why she has built a track record of helping accountants grow the size of their practice by 50-200%, often in under two years. Often helping them make partner or equity partner in the process.

Heather is a high profile member of the accountancy profession in the UK. She has worked with over 300 partners, coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. Heather's clients have included: 7 out of the Top 10 UK practices, including all the Big 4 firms. 

In 2016 her and her team of coaches have coached:

1) 7 people successfully to partner

2) Professionals from all of the Big 4, from every major continent in the world


As well as helping accountants make partner, she still spends 40% of her time helping small firms, typically under £1m GRF:

1) Create profitable revenue streams from advisory services and reduce their reliance on revenue from compliance services

2) Radically increase their profitability, even if they are a cloud based practice, often helping them achieve a net profit margin of 40%+

3) Double or even triple the size of their practice within 3 years

4) Win bigger and better clients

5) Grow the right team around them so they stop working stupidly high hours and spend quality time with the people they care about

Her articles appear regularly in the UK national and trade press, including The Financial Times, Accountancy Age, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. Heather is also in-demand for her speaking and has recently returned from the South African Accountancy Academy conference.


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