“Every year we’d do a business plan, and every year we’d put it in a draw and forget about it until we had to write the next one!”
That’s Paul Bury, one of the founding partners of Teesside-based law firm Endeavour Partnership, speaking very honestly about the firm he helped to found back in 1999.
“Now we have a business plan that is thought through, achievable and very focussed.”
He’s discussing the process the firm has been through, in a concerted effort to grow the business, and to prepare from Paul and fellow managing partner Paul Bennett’s eventual departure from the firm that they’ve worked to hard to build.
“We started with a turnover of £2.5m – we’ve achieved a turnover of £3.1m and that’s a full year ahead of plan.”
Paul says the last two years are the best two years the business has ever had, and this year has topped it all.
“It’s been a startling transformation, from performing well to performing exceptionally well.”
The transformation was catalysed by Sharon Hutchinson, the practice manager who joined at the beginning of this process. “She’s very in-tune with business practice and an extremely good manager,” says Paul. Her arrival allowed them to operate more strategically than they had previously.
And he also credits their decision to work with Craig Peterson, a business coach, for an external perspective.
“It was a combination of the partners collectively saying to ourselves, ‘we can do better’, Sharon’s arrival and engaging with Craig,” he says, having personally benefitted along with all the partners from his support. “Our vision and values have been distilled into a single sheet of A4,” he adds, “so they can be in front of us all of the time.”
Both Pauls are in their sixties now, and recognising that their longevity in the business is limited, they’re making a clear statement that Endeavour Partnership is a business still to be reckoned with.
“We see ourselves as a regional firm who happen to be based on Teesside, rather than a Teesside firm.
“We want to be a beacon of excellence in the Tees Valley, and the law firm of choice for the North East and beyond. So, whilst we’re rooted in the Tees Valley, we’re a regional player and very proud of where we are.
“There is no reason why a first class regional law firm can’t be based on Teesside.”
“We have developed a number of values, to care for our clients but also to look after our staff here and do more in the community,” he says.
For the firm, this now takes the shape of support for the Prince’s Trust. They’re aiming to raise £10,000 this year to support the development of young people who are on their doorstep, which the Teesside Philanthropic Foundation will match.
It also means there’s an emphasis on allowing, even encouraging, a good work-life balance – though Paul does concede that he probably works more hours than he should, he’s a dedicated Ballroom and Latin American dancer.
He first took it up as a hobby in his mid-twenties and rekindled his enjoyment of it when his girls, now in their late twenties and early thirties, departed for university. He’s also a badminton player and a keen chef, so has plenty to occupy him away from the office.
“It’s just so important,” he says.