Your Success Depends on Your ADR Business Plan

Dabbling business wannabees write Business Plans because “that’s what you do when you start a business.” Novices pump out a Business Plans as “filler,” required by another organization when applying for something THEY offer.  Savvy businesspeople create Business Plans as the roadmap to their version of success.

Many Family Law professionals are very good at what they do, but that does not mean they are good businesspeople. When it comes to things like client-centric processes, customer service, leveraging technology, communications, marketing, and understanding key business metrics, a lot of very smart family professionals fall behind the strategic business curve.

Leveraging Value for Family Law

A strategic Technology Plan is not first and foremost about what technology is out there. Tech or no tech, the success of your Family Law business and revenue model, is based solely on your intentioned or unintentional workflows, processes, activities and policies, that regardless of technology, create a certain value for your business and your clients as a whole.

There are no shortage of Business Plan books, templates, and online courses. Some are good. Many are not. Find a good one. Our appetite for simplicity should not override our need to be strategically thorough, especially when the future of a company is at stake.

More important than your completed Business Plan, is the actual process of thoughtfully delving your business strategy. The questions you ask (or don’t ask) of yourself, are strategically vital to the success of a Family Law Professional.  Let’s dwell on a few key strategic thoughts that are often left out of Business Plans. As a Family Law Professional, you will want to ponder and answer these points before you make your next business moves

25 ADR Business Points To Ponder

  1. Does anybody actually want what you are selling? Yes, you are a business and all businesses sell but is there a market for your offering? Don’t assume that there is or always will be. How large is the divorce market in your region? What percentage would realistically be interested in (or could afford) your services?
  2. Who exactly is your target demographic? Know who they are, what they look like and what they want. Dare to be excessively tight and strategic with your target market. Shotgun marketing typically only pays the bills at best.
  3. Do not be limited by your location. Technology has the potential to open up new markets to you. Can your services scale if you offer your services online?
  4. Is there real money to be made in your business model? Being one of a dozen mediators in a small town or the only Collaborative Professional in your city is not a recipe for success.
  5. Establish solid personal financial goals. It’s not enough to pay the bills and take home a salary. What is the exact annual number that will drive your business forward, maintain your chosen lifestyle and take care of your retirement. Learn how to pay yourself first.
  6. How many client files will it take to drive that annual revenue? Reverse engineer and you will have an idea of how many files you need to retain weekly, monthly and quarterly. Create your marketing strategies around these numbers.
  7. You will be one of many. How will you differentiate your professional services from everyone else? Figure out what you are offering, what your target demographic wants and clearly market it to them.
  8. Who will be on the other side of the table from you? Your professional associates may share a common vision but may not share your business goals. Strategize who you would like to work for, with, and opposite from.
  9. Is your business model and your service processes client-centric? Too often, Family Law processes revolve around the needs of the system or the professional. Client-centric models will go a long way to earning you positive Google reviews.
  10. Are you planning ahead of the inevitable shifts taking place in the legal marketplace, due to changing consumer sentiments and the rise of technology? Safely assume that the wants and needs of your demographic market are changing faster than you are.
  11. Do you have a Technology Strategy? Technology will not fix your business plan. But it is a key tool used to reach your business’ success metrics.
  12. Intentionally develop a Communication Plan for your clients. Family professionals dramatically fail in client communications and professional communications is leading pain-point for family law clients. Today’s clients insist on texting, will tolerate emails, sometimes call if it’s important and will never fax.
  13. Do you intend to be self-employed or do you intend to run a business? ‘Self-employed’ means that you make your revenues as any employee does… as payment for the time you work. Running a business means that your business makes money even when you are not working. There is nothing wrong with either, as long as this is aligns with your strategic intention. Either way, plan for your own health issues and family crises that could potentially disrupt business.
  14. Why are you using the revenue model you are using? The billable hour is not the only revenue model available to Family Professionals and many will argue that it is not the most successful revenue model. Have you appropriately researched other revenue models?
  15. Family Professionals often price their services based on years in the industry. Instead pricing should reflect your market, your client demographics and your volume targets. Pricing too high or too low—both scenarios can be a recipe for disaster.
  16. What is the cost to you, for what you are selling? Not merely the expenses, but the cost to you, your family, your relationships and your emotional well being? Plan to fire the wrong clients. Better plan how to keep the wrong clients from contacting you to begin with.
  17. Do you intend to be innovative? If technology has taught us anything, it’s that openness is actually a key driver of innovation. Those that embrace it early on and leverage it for their benefit are well positioned for greater success in the future.
  18. Examine and re-examine your workflows and processes. Bad workflows and assumed processes become engrained and are very difficult to change. Intentionally set up smart workflows and processes right from the beginning.
  19. “Because that’s the way it’s always been done” is a limited business strategy from day one. Differentiate yourself by doing it; better, faster, smarter, more efficiently or most cost-effectively.
  20. Can you embrace change, and how will you quickly pivot appropriately? Do you have an emergency plan? Is an emergency fund a part of your budget?
  21. What are the trends in your professional niche? Join them or reject them, but never simply dismiss them. Assume that there is always someone who has created a better business plan than you.
  22. Businesses die every day because of cash flow issues or because they simply run out of money. Understand money and how money really works. Deliberately plan to make money and intentionally plan for a money crisis.
  23. Actually create a value proposition and a mission statement. It’s harder than you think. If you did it in 20 minutes you didn’t really do it. When completed, nail it to the wall and live by it. Amend as necessary.
  24. What are your success metrics? Ask yourself, “Why do I want to work in Family Law?” It may be or not be for the money. It may be for the story, for the prestige, for idealistic reasons. Be sure to define what success means to you, so that you can aim for it and enjoy it when it comes.
  25. Have you built the “Happy Factor” into your business Plan? What would make and keep you happy and engaged? Yes, actually plan for it. Nothing will kill your business faster than you becoming discontent and unhappy.

You Plan to Succeed or You Fail to Plan

The reason why many family professionals are bad at business may simply be because there has never been a strong enough incentive for them to get better at it. Regardless of what you may or may not observe in your neck of the woods, the professional market has changed and evolves even faster! Strategizing these thoughts and points can be more difficult than it would seem, but with clear business goals, strategies and plans, your Family Practice business, can end up as the success you planned it to be.