How to plan for the New Year - What do you want to achieve?

Whilst the rest of the world celebrates New Year at midnight on 31st December, I know many practitioners who defer their real celebrations until 31st January and then immediately take off on holiday to recover ! Whatever date you celebrate a new start to another year in business I wish you the best of success and good fortune in achieving your goals in 2011.

I think this is the best time of year to reflect on where you are now compared to 12 months ago and where you want to be in 12 months time. Have your plans changed or did you even have a plan to begin with ? Many practitioners I know have asked that I summarise a helpful 'top tips sheet' to help them review and set a new business plan. Without such a plan you are less likely to be able to achieve what you want,work out the 'how to 'element and measure your progress ongoing.

Remember....'failing to plan is planning to fail!' A bit of a cliche but often true.


  • How many hours do you want to work ideally?
  • What level of income would you like to be drawing?
  • What level of income do you need on retirement ?
  • Will your retirement income come from your practice ?
  • What date do you want to retire?
  • Where are you now in terms of profits and where do you want to get to in the above timeline?
  • What therefore is your target annual rate of growth in terms of net profit ?
  • Assuming a level of net profit work upwards to calculate what level of turnover this represents ? Assume a net profit margin of 30% for this purpose.
  • Annualise this target turnover and think about 'what is my ideal client profile and average annual fee per client?'
  • Compare this to your average client profile now.How many clients do you have and how many do you need at what level of average annual fee?
  • Do you need to work on a marketing plan to win the right type of new client to fulfull your business and personal goals?
  • Do you know (and more importantly do your clients know) what services you can provide to help them?
  • Do you have labour capacity to service your projected increase in clients ? If not, who and when will you recruit and how will you fund that growth?
  • How do you manage your cashflow to reduce your lock up and minimise bad debts,irrecoverable work in progress and fee disputes ? You need strong systems in place to ensure the future of your practice is secure and you can fund for growth.Even a sole practitioner can manage this successfully.You don't have to be big to have simple good systems in place.
  • What do you need your practice to be worth so you can retire?
  • What will make your practice attractive for sale and what do you need to do to grrom it?
  • Will you retire by selling to a third party,merger, or internal management buy out. What is your succession plan and how does this tie in with your plan for this year?
  • If your existing client base is far from the one you want to build then is there a plan in place to manage these clients 'up or out' and replace them with your ideal client profile in the future?
  • Are your existing systems robust enough to ensure you are getting the optimum recovery and gross margin on existing jobs and client work ?
  • Are your production processes as efficient as they can be?
  • Do you have other business partners who need to set their own personal goals and incorporate them into the overall business plan ?
  • If you do have a multi-partner practice, when was the last time you updated the overall business plan and confirmed it met the personal goals of each partner?
  • Look back on 2010....what were the low points? What have you done to ensure history will not repeat itself in 2011?

If all you do is 'nothing' then all you can hope to achieve is nothing different!

Whether you are a sole practitioner or a multi-partner practice, the same ideas apply.This is the right time to work on your own business - whether it be at your desk or lying on a beach somewhere !

Over the next few months I will focus on some of the points raised above in more detail. In the meantime, if you have a specific question then please e-mail me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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