Your business case for partnership: Don’t get over fixated on your technical ability

Most partnerships require their potential partners to write a business case for admittance to partnership. (See what do you need to put in your personal and business case for partnership)

When I interviewed Darryn Hedges, Global Finance Director for Marks and Clerks,  recently, he explained the most common mistake that potential partners make with their business case is that they get over-fixated on technical content and technical ability. The whole interview is captured on a 35 minute podcast ‘creating a winning business case for partnership‘ – which is available to download.

The most common one is over-fixation on technical content and technical ability

In Darryn’s view (and he has now been heavily involved in the partnership promotions process for three firms), he believes that you need to focus more on your ability to lead, win work, work collaboratively with others, and delivery of excellent client service:

In my view the ability to manage and work with a team, the ability to work collaboratively, is as important because it speaks not just to the delivery of service and the winning of work but also to the manner in which it is done.

As Darryn explained in his interview,

If you are over-fixated or over-focussed on your technical ability you tend to forget about the client relationship and the business development stuff as well.

In professional services, the terms ‘finding, minding and grinding‘ are often spoken about. This is normally relating to:

Grinding: Doing the work

Minding: Managing the work you have today and the people you work with

Finding: Winning the new work

What you need to show in your personal and business case for partnership

If you are to have a winning personal and business case for partnership, regardless of whether you are a lawyer, accountant, consultant or architect, Darryn suggests that you show in your business case how you get do all three, i.e. finding, minding and grinding, with a proven track record. I.e. not just showing that you can ‘Grind’ – after all, a competent associate, manager or director could do that.

You have to get all three (finding, minding and grinding) into the business case. The specifics of your firm, your department, the opportunity will determine which of those three is a priority, but you have to get all three in.

FREE step-by-step guide to writing your business case for partnership

guide to creating business case copy 200pxDownload our free step-by-step guide to writing a persuasive business case for partnership to save you time and become a "sure bet" for partnership.

Download NOW 

What to read/listen to now to help you create a cast-iron business case for partnership?

Everything you need to know about building a personal and business case for partnership
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"Regardless of how much help your firm gives you, this is an essential read. There is no silver bullet when it comes to making partner, but this will do a damn good job of helping you get there if you act on the advice it contains. I really wish this book had been around when I was making the journey."
Phil Mullis, Partner, Wilkins Kennedy LLP

"This book is an invaluable aid to anyone considering the transition from associate to partner and employee to employer. Practical, thought-provoking and well-presented, the books allows you to dive in at any point, meaning that it is not just useful now, but will be for years to come."
Kevin Poulter, Legal Director, Bircham Dyson Bell LLP

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Found this article valuable? Then there is more valuable advice in my book

"I wish I had read this book two years ago"
Ex-PwC Partner

 "I started reading this book few months before getting into the partner track process and always regretted not getting hold of it earlier; this book has helped me to brainstorm about what is expected at that level and what is being done now and I was able to steer myself in the right direction. I would strongly recommend senior managers; directors to use this book at the earlier stage to start the journey towards the partnership".
New EY partner

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Author Credit:

Written by Heather Townsend, who helps professionals become the The Go-To Expert. 

Heather is the author of the  award winning and best-selling book on business networking, the FT Guide To Business Networking, co-author of How to make partner and still have a life, The Go-To Expert and Poised for Partnership. Connect with Heather on LinkedIn and Twitter,


  1. […] When you become a partner you get a P45 (in the UK you receive a P45 when you stop being an employee of a company) and become an owner of the firm. As a result, it is no longer about your technical ability, it’s about your ability to grow the firm, build & lead a team, win clients and bring something extra to the partnership. (For more details, read ‘Your personal business case for partnership: Don’t become fixated on your technical ability) […]

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