How To Create A Realistic Business Plan In COVID-19

Your business plan is more important (during COVID-19) than ever before.

The key ingredient to get hired these days as a producing banker or public finance attorney is your business plan.  What are you going to do to grow your practice? How will you generate significant revenue to your new employer? Under normal circumstances these are rather easy questions to answer. You will do what you have done in the past, which has made you successful.  However, this will not work amidst the COVID-19 work environment we are currently living in. Why? Because you cannot simply get in your car, visit an issuer, and walk away with an RFP, etc. 

COVID-19 Advice For Your Business Plan 

Before you even contemplate the writing of your plan, my first piece of advice is to speak with someone “in the know.”  That person could be a recent hire of the firm, a manager in a different department, a recruiter working exclusively for that manager, or a competitor of the firm (who may have left the firm for various reasons). You must determine how a firm is handling the COVID-19 circumstances. Ask questions like the following: 

  • Are they letting everyone work from their homes? 
  • Are they requiring people to be in the office at least once or twice a week?  
  • Are they allowing their employees to travel?  
  • If they do allow travel, is it day trips or overnight stays?  
  • Are they allowing people to get together physically to work on proposals or is everything over Zoom?  

Know The Firm’s Work Culture

The more you can grasp how the firm is dealing with the COVID-19 world, the stronger and more applicable your business plan will be. In addition to the COVID questions, each firm has a culture. The more your business plan matches up to that firm’s culture (at least the hiring managers culture), the greater your likelihood of being hired.  The tough advice in this circumstance is following what you have learned from talking to a person “in the know”.  I can share with you that I worked closely with a hiring manager, and I know what he wanted to see in a business plan.  I had the opportunity to share with an individual the information, and he did the antithesis of what I suggested to him. In the end he was not offered the position.

Let Your Business Plan Reflect YOU

Once you start writing the plan, be yourself.  The hiring manager has already met with you (most likely on a Zoom call). You have lost the ability to relate on a one-to-one personal basis, which meant that in pre-COVID-19 they would have already “sized up” who you are.  If your business plan reflects something completely different than who you are, it is going to set off red flags.  Yet in this scenario, they really do not know who you are other than a face on the screen.  Your business plan now becomes more important than ever.  

If you are filling out any forms (i.e. lateral transfer), be as realistic as you can be with the chance of bringing existing business to the firm as well as generating new business once you get there.   Also, you must clearly demonstrate how you are going to bring new business or transition your existing business without the ability to get out and go.  In this case, it is always better to under promise and over deliver than the reverse. 

Producing & Protecting

We have talked about revenue producing employees, but what about revenue protecting employees?  As you may know our firm is now representing Compliance related positions. The business plan with those positions need to reflect the absolute ability to protect the client firm and their assets.  A business plan that is conservative and protective is going to go a long way; thus, demonstrating the plan must reflect the person, the COVID-19 environment, and the position itself.


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out to me for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email me at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all level Public Finance Bankers, Health Care Bankers, Municipal Financial Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.