Thursday, May 31, 2012

Business Plans Suck. Planning your legal career doesn't.

Two years ago, I was enduring the unending humidity of a Maryland summer. When you are trapped in air conditioning and unemployed, you're likely to pick up anything.

Now I've practically memorized Scot Gerber's "Never Get A Real Job." It's a primer for starting and running an enterprise. GET THIS BOOK, if only to read the chapter called "Business Plans Suck."

A business plan is a waste of time.

Planning is essential. But The Business Plan has taken on a life of its own. Here are a few realities:

The Business Plan is mostly fiction.

None of the things you write in The Business Plan will happen when you say they will.

No one reads the darn thing. I haven't read my business plan since I put it together in 2010. Why? It sucked. It had numbers and graphs and testimonials, and the bank put it in my file and never looked at it again.

A startup plan is NOT a waste of time.

Here is the difference. Like the Constitution, your startup plan is a living document. You can allow yourself to experiment with a startup plan. A startup plan can help you identify your best business model. A startup plan can be anything you want. But it should have some clearly defined goals, milestones, and ideas. You might want to think about money, but don't do that until you have a clear idea of your product, your market, and your selling strategy.

Your startup plan is short, sweet, and can be accepted on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo without any fuss or changes.

Scott Gerber recommends 8 questions to ask, and I like them. They are not mine. They are Scott Gerber's. Get his book to help you figure out how to implement them into your startup plan. 

1. What is the service your business performs or the product it provides today? 
2. How does your business produce or provide the product or service right now? 
3. How will customers use your product or service as it exists right now? 
4. How will your business generate immediate revenue? 
5. Who are the primary clients your business will target immediately? 
6. How will you market your start-up to prospective clients with the resources you have at your direct disposal? 
7. How are you different than your competitors right now? 
8. What are the secondary and tertiary client bases you will target once you’ve attained success with your primary base?

See, Gerber, Scott (2010-11-02). Never Get a "Real" Job: How to Dump Your Boss, Build a Business and Not Go Broke (pp. 91-92). John Wiley and Sons. Kindle Edition. 

I'm a Lawyer. I don't have anything to sell. So I don't need a plan.

Yes you do, so stop making excuses. You sell this thing called knowledge. You have a product, which is your advice, your skill, and your assistance. Figure it out. If you don't know what your product is, how are you going to attract clients? 

Any plan is better than none at all. You can illustrate your plan any way you'd like. Some people draw pictures of their plans. Others draw incredibly complicated "mind maps." I like mind maps, because I think chaotically. A mind map helps tremendously before you hone your offering to a few unique points. Brainstorm, get some friends over for wine and pizza, be as creative as you possibly can with your plan and your business model. 

Then refine it. 

What would you put in your business plan?


  1. I've essentially commited to memory Scot Gerber's "Never Get A Actual Job." It's a for beginners for beginning and operating an business.

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    1. It's a great book among many! Most lawyers need the simplicity of Gerber's plan. It helped me a lot, and I've practice in the US for 25 years.