Bullet-point tips on the tough questions that need to be asked. This month: "what we are good at"

Do we really know what our business excels at?

It seems obvious that firms should understand their specialism and skill-sets, but it’s nevertheless worth trying to define these in some detail. You need to get “under the skin” a bit, so “offering first class services to clients” is not as good as “bringing commercial acumen and fresh ideas to our client relationships”, which has more value as a motivator.

How can this exercise get us new business?

A detailed definition of your firm’s skill-sets makes imagining new areas where these can be applied much easier, and provides stimulus to deliver on this vision. Realising, for example, that innovation is a key strand running through past successes can give you confidence to then consider entering new markets, where problem solving and creative thinking will be required.

What else can we get out of this exercise?

You’ll probably also unearth some areas where you thought you excelled, but maybe aren’t doing so well recently. Try and understand why such areas are performing worse than before and make the necessary changes to build them back up.

Is this more about client facing work and marketing success?

A lot of it is, but technical excellence is also always a core skill. In addition, back-end operations and processes can also represent an area of “excellence” that can be fully defined and then leveraged into new areas to generate incremental profit.

How can we go about this activity?

It can be worth considering bringing in unbiased external help for a short time to observe the business in action. They can often see things that are less obvious to those inside the business, who take things for granted and also suffer blind spots.


The Author
Neil Forrest, NRF Consulting. Neil Forrest provides strategy and funding advice to the legal sector and other business groups. t: 0131 440 4118; e: nrf@neilforrest.co.uk  
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