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Practice management: Becoming a business

A growing number of directors say they have a business — not a practice. The following questions will help you assess where you fall on the practice-to-business continuum.

Thursday, October 2nd 2008, 5:54AM
1. Leadership
Do you perceive yourself to be the chief executive officer of your organisation? Do you write a business plan each year and review progress against the plan? Do others perceive you as the chief executive?

2. Your role as the chief financial officer
Do you write a budget yearly? Do you know your overhead? Do you know your margin? Do you consistently produce a growing profit? Businesses focus on growing the bottom line.

3. Human capital
Do you have employees? Do you perceive them as investments? Will you wait for a great employee when hiring? Are you willing to pay for great employees? Do you provide training and development opportunities? Do you have written job descriptions and written performance reviews?

4. Operations

Do you follow required procedures? Do you have a process for financial planning? Do you have a written procedures manual? Do you have a defined approach for the frequency of contacts with different client categories? Do you regularly assess client loyalty?

5. Technology
Do you use software to: manage contacts, generate proposals, prepare financial plans, generate illustrations, conduct research and generate performance reports? Is your software integrated? Do you review your hardware and software needs annually?

6. Production
Do you track revenue generating activity? Activity begets business, yet it is so easy to shy away from tracking our own activity. Do you have a written growth strategy? Do you say no to bad business? Do you have a clear picture of your ideal client? Do you know your close rate and client retention rate?

7. Marketing
Do you focus on a defined niche or can anyone be your client? Do you brand your company through collateral? Your brochure, Website, business cards, stationery and so forth all need to convey a consistent image and message of your firm. Do you have a system to market to existing clients, to warm prospects and to communicate your brand to your public?

8. Risk management
Do you have insurance: life, cross-purchase, key man, business interruption? Do you have a disaster recovery plan? Is your bookkeeping embezzlement-proof? Do you know your level of compliance risk? Are you protected against liability?

9. Business continuity
Have you identified a successor and completed the necessary legal documents? Do you have a written demise letter that explains to your clients the arrangements you made for an untimely event?

It probably doesn’t matter much if you call your firm a business, practice, organization, or whatever. What matters is using business principles and interacting with your clients with the kindness and compassion you want and need to provide. Use this list as a template to start making the changes to evolve your business today.

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