By now, you’re probably at Director-grade, and have been for some time. You’ve been focused on your business and personal case and working towards the targets therein for a while. It’s been a career ambition to make Partner in your area of expertise; this could be the first time you’re going for it, or you may have been through the process before. Either way, there are five areas of your business which you need to focus on to make that all important step up.
It goes without saying, but it’s so often seen. One of the most important factors to becoming a Partner is knowing when you want to make it and how you’re going to get there.
Be realistic; Partner is a prestigious title – one that most professionals take years to achieve. It is among the highest recognition of performance. Set yourself an achievable route.
2) Don't only play to your strengths.
Part of planning is knowing your skill set; the areas which you’re good at and those which need work.
Weaknesses are opportunities. Most people shy away from weaknesses; it’s less scary to remain in your comfort zone. But growth takes place when you’re uncomfortable – don’t be afraid of discomfort.
Paying attention to the unfamiliar areas of your overall business case are the ones which will strengthen your Partner-case and increase the likelihood of success.
Of course, continue to work on the areas you’re good at. “There’s always room for improvement”.
3) Network. But don’t only network.
You should know that a large part of becoming a Partner is your “business case” - basically, your profitability. In order to build revenues, it’s a good idea to have a good pool of clients to promote your expertise to. A network which is willing to interact with you.
However, while a broad network is important, it’s not the only area you should focus on. Far too many aspiring Partners place too much emphasis on networking rather than building long-standing, weather-bearing relationships.
Genuine relationships allow the practice to cross-sell, which in turn promotes alternate services of the practice and improves your overall business case.
It is essential that you’re able to identify market trends and be forward thinking about economic and technological cycles.
Sectors with heavy or changing regulation require professionals with an up-to-date knowledge of those changes and how best to extract value for the practice. For example, the recent changes in VAT legislation surrounding MTD has seen some firms leapfrog others, just by being prepared and having innovative Partners.
5) Know what is out there.
Being a Partner shouldn’t be a short-term commitment. The effort you’ll go through, the late nights and the potential disappointment all needs to be worth it. It is always advisable to explore Partner opportunities within other practices, for two reasons:
a) It gives you something to compare to. You’ll get a taste for the Partnership structure and vision of your competition, which may be different to what you’d imagine
b) It provides a back-up plan. Partner-track is a “slippery slope”. Running a Partner process side-by-side saves time but also provides an alternative if you’re let down by your preferred choice.
Becoming a Partner is a long, testing and multi-faceted process, which is ultimately offered to those individuals who can demonstrate technical skills to win and advise on new deals and truly represent the values of the firm.