One of the most important long-term career decisions relates to becoming an owner of a business. It involves risk and reward, challenges and accomplishments, influence and control, highs and lows. Many important questions need to be answered to make the best decision about your firm choice. How do you evaluate your firm? When should you start to pursue partnership? What expectations does the firm have for you? When should you start building your book of business? How should you plan for the required financial investment? These questions will be reviewed in this article.
How Do You Evaluate Your Firm? There needs to be a good fit between the firm and the partner to create the best long-lasting situation. It is similar to a marriage. The firm’s long-term goals and core values should be clearly communicated, easily understood, and regularly practiced—and they should align with your own goals and values. Your compatibility with the firm and other partners should be carefully scrutinized and weigh heavily in your decision-making process. You should have a clear practice area and a thorough understanding how that area fits into the whole firm strategy. The culture of the firm should be one that you relate to and are comfortable operating in. You should agree with the firm’s expectations for different aspects of the practice, such as profitability, flexibility, quality of life, and leadership style. The presence of other women partners could be a sign of the firm’s understanding of the importance of diversity at the ownership level and having a marketing niche. Your awareness of these issues may emerge over time as you gain experience and true knowledge of the firm and how it operates.