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Diary of a Sharemark float: designing our growth plan

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James Hunt is a solicitor, serial entrepreneur and founder of Everyman Legal – a new type of law firm providing legal services for entrepreneurs. The company of solicitors is the first in the UK to announce it will take advantage of the new practising regime created under the Legal Services Act by seeking a stock market admission. The company intends to trade its shares on Sharemark – a stock market for smaller companies – in the last quarter of 2012. In an honest and open account for Real Business, James Hunt will be charting the ups and downs of preparing his company for an admission.

December has been a busy month for me and the Everyman Legal team.

There has been the usual pre-Christmas rush with the end of the year as a natural deadline for deals to be agreed or completed. But there has also been the additional work on our business and marketing plans.

If Everyman Legal is to be an attractive investment as we move onto Sharemark, we must have a compelling growth story. As we enter perhaps another three to five years of recession and tough competition, what is to be our key value proposition? Who are to be our key target clients and our strategy for growth? Once we have agreed these, we need a plan for implementation.

I confess that I have found this a real struggle. At times, the process has been an uncomfortable one for me personally but after three workshop sessions we emerge with our “one-page plan” and I am confident that we are on the right path.

In my experience, trying to achieve consensus with a group of partners at different stages in their careers, from different backgrounds and with different levels of knowledge and experience of business, is well nigh impossible. Happily for us, our management is just four and all of us are advisers to business.

I am encouraged to read a fascinating book: E-myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E Gerber. The “E” stands for “entrepreneur”. Gerber believes that most businesses are started not by entrepreneurs (that is someone whose prime motivation is to make money) but by technicians: the people with technical expertise. They might be engineers or software developers or graphic designers or even professional advisers. They will have an entrepreneurial urge and choose to become independent running their own companies.

The management team all like the idea. Our focus, in terms of funding new business this year, will be finding great innovators: technicians who really understand their industry and can see a way to steal a march on their competitors.

Now I must schedule meetings with our wider team of solicitors around the country. With effect from April 2012, Everyman Legal plans to register as an Alternative Business Structure (ABS). By then, we must have our detailed business plan in place and be in the process of executing our marketing plan.

I have to make sure our nationwide team of solicitors buy in to the plan. As we convert to an ABS, we plan a share offer and share incentive for all solicitors, so I am happy and expecting that the buy-in will be both emotional and financial.

A very challenging 2012 is ahead but, as I reflect on the progress made in the past 12 months, I am encouraged that we have laid the foundations for our plans for growth.

Read the full Diary of a Sharemark float series here.

James Hunt, Everyman Legal

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