Search Results for: 80/20

Lawyer networking and the 80/20 rule

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Lawyer networking–is it a good use of your time?

Some say that formal networking (the way most people do it) is a low yield activity. They say that the people you meet at chamber of commerce and other formal networking events are unlikely to have much business to give you. They are networking because they need business. The ones who have plenty of business, and thus plenty of referrals to give you, are not at the events, they’re at the office helping their clients.

I’m not sure I’m willing to accept this as a universal truth, but let’s say it was true. If you’re thinking about networking as a means to grow your practice, does this mean you should reconsider?

No. It means you need to approach networking with a different agenda.

One way to do this is to forgo meeting most of the attendees at these events and instead focus on meeting the organizers and speakers. These people know the people at the events, and many more who aren’t. They can steer you towards prospective clients and other professionals who might be a good match.

Meeting these centers of influence allows you to leverage your time. You will have to work just as hard to build a relationship with them as you would with anyone else, but if you are successful, that relationship could yield far more results than a relationship with someone who is just starting out.

On the other hand, networking with people on their way up can also be a good thing. They may not have much business to give you right now, but if you stick with them while they grow and become successful, they could become good clients or referral sources.

Spend 80% of your networking time courting high-value connectors and centers of influence. Note that these people are probably sought after by others who want to know them and may also have attorneys to whom they are already committed. These people may be a tougher nut to crack, but if you are successful, they could open many doors for you.

Spend 20% of your networking time building relationships with people who can’t do much for you now, but might someday. They may be small potatoes, but in a few years, they may be so busy, you’ll never have a chance to meet them.

The Attorney Marketing Formula helps you create a plan for marketing your practice

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The 80/20 Principle and your law practice

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One of my favorite books is The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch. In it, Koch makes the case first articulated as The Pareto Principle, that “a minority of causes, inputs, or effort usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs, or rewards”.

The idea is that as much as 80% of your results may come from 20% of your effort. In the context of practicing law, that might mean that 20% of your clients produce 80% of your income. The actual numbers, however, aren’t necessarily 80/20. They might be 90/30, 60/20, or 55/5. The point is that some things we do bring results that are disproportionate to our effort and that it behooves us to look for those things and do more of them.

Koch says, “Few people take objectives really seriously. They put average effort into too many things, rather than superior thought and effort into a few important things. People who achieve the most are selective as well as determined.”

We’re talking about focus. About doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. About using leverage to earn more without working more.

Look at your practice and tell me what you see.

  • Practice areas: Are you a Jack or Jill of all trades or a master of one? Are you good at many things or outstanding at one or two?
  • Clients: Do you target anyone who needs what you do or a very specifically defined “ideal client” who can hire you more often, pay higher fees, and refer others like themselves who can do the same?
  • Services: Do you offer low fee/low margin services because they contribute something to overhead or do you keep your overhead low and maximize profits?
  • Fees: Do you trade your time for dollars or do you get paid commensurate with the value you deliver?
  • Marketing: Do you do too many things that produce no results, or modest results, or one or two things that bring in the bulk of your new business?
  • Time: Do you do too much yourself, or do you delegate as much as possible and do “only that which only you can do”?
  • Work: Do you do everything from scratch or do you save time, reduce errors, and increase speed by using forms, checklists, and templates?

Leverage is the key to the 80/20 principle. It is the key to getting more done with less effort and to earning more without working more.

Take inventory of where you are today. If you’re not on track to meeting your goals, if you are working too hard and earning too little, the answer may be to do less of most things, the “trivial many,” as Koch defines them, so you can do more of the “precious few”.

My course, The Attorney Marketing Formula, can help you.

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Decisions, decisions

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In running a practice or business, building a career and a life, we are continually called on to make decisions. 

Some decisions we make on autopilot. We’ve already worked out what we’ll do if X happens, so when it happens, we don’t think, we execute.

Other decisions come at us as first impressions. They may require research, the counsel of others, and copious amounts of ‘sleeping on it’. 

Ultimately, the direction and altitude of your career may come down to a handful of key decisions, and no more. Because most decisions, like most variables, don’t make a big difference.

In 80/20 parlance, they are the ‘trivial many’, as opposed to the ‘precious few’. 

The precious few are game changers. The ones that can quadruple your income, which is what happened to me early in my career when I decided to specialize and learn everything I could about marketing. 

The precious few can make a big difference in your revenue, your success and happiness. 

The rest will be forgotten by next quarter. 

One entrepreneur says that when he has a decision to make, the first question he asks himself is, “Is this big enough to matter?”

If the answer is no, make a quick decision (or no decision) and let it go. Spend your time focusing on big decisions. 

But remember, everything is relative.

For some of us, hiring a new employee, changing billing software, or moving to a new office are big decisions. For others, not so much. 

And yet, seemingly small changes can lead to big results. If done right, adding a call-to-action to your emails can be a game changer, for example. 

Making decisions is one of the most important aspects of building a successful life; it’s also one of the most difficult. 

My advice? Do yourself a favor and don’t make so many. Save your brainpower for decisions that are big enough to matter.

Get more referrals from other lawyers

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How to upgrade your client list

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Go through your current client list. Look at the numbers: how much did each client pay you over the last year and over their lifetime?

How much are they likely to pay you in the next few years?

Some clients might not have a lot of work for you but may send you a lot of referrals.

Add this to your numbers.

You should see that some of your clients (and cases) are worth a lot more to you than others.

Let’s call those “high value” clients.

Everyone else is either “average” or “low value”.

Study your numbers. You should see some patterns.

You should see that a large percentage of your total revenue comes from a small percentage of your client list.

Maybe 80/20, maybe a different ratio, but you should find that “a precious few” of your clients and cases bring in a disproportionate amount of your income.

Obviously, you want more of this type of client or case.

One way to get them is to reduce the number of low value clients, and also perhaps many of the “average” clients, to free up your time and other resources so you can focus on attracting more high value clients.

How do you “reduce” the number of low value clients in order to do that?

You could increase your fees. That’s the easiest way to do it. If it doesn’t, keep raising them until it does.

You could ask for bigger retainers. Reject cases with smaller damages. “Fire” clients who slow pay or who are “more trouble than they’re worth”.

I know, the idea makes perfect sense to you but it also makes you nervous. So you’re unlikely to go “cold turkey”. You don’t want to let go of low value clients until you see more high value clients coming your way.

Okay. Go through your list and study the high value clients you identified.

Where did they come from? What marketing methods did you use to attract them? Did they find you through search? Referral? Ads? Did they hear your presentation or meet you at an event?

Who are their colleagues, clients, friends or neighbors? Who do they know who might have legal needs or know people who do?

Then, get busy.

You might not be ready to let go of (all) low value clients just yet but there’s something you can do. You can stop marketing to them.

From this day forward, focus exclusively on marketing to your high value clients.

This will help

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Did you celebrate National Simplicity Day?

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In honor of Henry David Thoreau’s birthday, July 12th was National Simplicity Day, a day to celebrate a simpler, uncluttered, and slower pace of life.

Who knew?

I didn’t before I watched a video that mentioned it and challenged viewers to use fewer apps and online tools in our work.

The hosts mentioned 3 apps they use every day in their business and how those apps replaced other apps they had previously used, simplifying their work process and saving time and money.

I thought about my use case. I have many apps and online tools at my disposal but only a few I use every day. I’m re-reading The 80/20 Principle and thought about how I get 80% (ish) of the value of these tools from only 20% of them.

I could eliminate many of the rest–the ones I use only occasionally or haven’t used in a long time.

How about you?

How many apps, programs, and online tools do you have in your arsenal? How many do you use regularly? How many of the others could you eliminate?

Okay, apps are easy. Here’s something that’s a bit more complicated:

Which of your cases or clients or practice areas contribute a preponderance of your income or projected income? Could you safely eliminate the ones that don’t?

I asked myself that question many years ago when I had a general practice. I took a leap of faith and jettisoned everything that wasn’t related to the one practice area that was producing best for me, and my income and happiness skyrocketed.

Thank you, Henry David, for showing us the value of keeping things simple.

This is my primary marketing tool

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Frustrated, overwhelmed and disillusioned

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Somethings wrong. You’re working hard but spinning your wheels. You’re stressed out and you don’t know what you’re doing wrong.

Am I incompetent? An imposter? A fool?

Maybe. But probably not. That’s probably your frustration, overwhelm, and disillusionment talking.

More likely, you’re simply trying to do too much.

I’ve been there. Early in my practice. Ready to pull my hair out because I was working hard but not making any money.

I hadn’t heard about The Pareto Principle–the 80/20 rule–and the power of doing less to accomplish more.

But something told me I had to start taking things off my plate, and I did.

I eliminated or delegated things that weren’t working (or that I hated), no matter how “promising” they seemed or how much I wanted them to work, and freed up time and mental energy to do the few things that were actually working.

The “20% activities that produce 80% of your results”.

What happened? Besides being scared to death that I was cutting out too much and doing too little, my income went up.

Because I was focusing on (and getting good at) a few things, instead of trying to do “everything”.

I was earning more and working less.

One of the things I focused on was marketing. Ah, but not all kinds of marketing. I focused on a few strategies. One of these was learning how to bring in more referrals.

You can learn how to do that, here

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What are your three things?

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“Perhaps the most important personal productivity tool ever discovered is what we call the “Law of Three.” This law says that 90% of all of your results and eventually, your income, come from only three of your daily activities.”

So says Brian Tracy in a post on his blog.

In 80/20 parlance, those three activities are your “vital few”–20% activities that deliver 80% of your results.

And they’re different for everyone.

Tracy used sales managers as an example. He says their three things are recruiting, training and managing.

So, what are your three things?

Of all the things you do in your practice, what three activities create the most value?

Focus on those three things. Do more of them, get better at them, and you should be able to increase your income at an accelerated rate.

You may also find that you can let go of a lot of things that aren’t your top three. This will give you more time (and energy) for your top three activities, allowing you to compound your results.

But don’t stop there.

Once you’ve done this exercise and found your three activities, do the same exercise for each of those three.

If one of your 20% activities is litigation, for example, identify the top three activities that make you better or more successful at it.

If one of your top three activities is marketing (and if it’s not, what’s up wit dat?), make a list of all of the marketing activities you do and from that list, choose your top three.

Which marketing activity brings in the most clients? Which produces your best clients? Which activity do you do best and want to do more?

Focus your marketing on those three things and consider letting go of or doing less of everything else.

You’ll thank me later.

One of my top three: client referrals

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Eliminate and grow rich

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If you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, if your to-do list is never-ending and continually growing, if your “someday/maybe” list has cobwebs growing on it, the 80/20 rule can help.

Remember, it says, “a minority of causes, inputs, or efforts usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs or rewards.” So, the first thing to do is go through your lists and identify your 20%-ers.

You can do this in one sitting, once a month, or once a day.

Ask yourself, “What can I do today (this week, soon, next) that will deliver the biggest results?” or “What can I focus on right now that will bring me closer to achieving my most important goal?”

NB: The answer will often be something you’ve been putting off.

The next step: take everything else and eliminate it.

Delete or delegate. Or, if you are having trouble letting go of things, bury them–in another app, another file, or somewhere else you won’t see them.

Eliminating things is difficult for most people but it is key to achieving extraordinary results in your life. In Essentialism, Greg McKeown said, “It’s about making the trade-off between lots of good things and a few really great things.”

And you need time to do the really great things.

Warren Buffett put it this way: “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

What can you say no to today?

Say yes to referrals

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Most decisions should be made quickly

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One of the lessons of the 80/20 principle is that a few things matter but most don’t. “A minority of causes, inputs, or effort usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs, or rewards,” according to Richard Koch, author of The 80/20 Principle.

Figure out your 20% activities and do more of them. Spend less time doing everything else.

Now, every day we all make lots of decisions. What to do, what to read, what to say, how to make a point, what to buy, and many more. Unfortunately, many of us spend too much time making decisions about things that don’t matter or matter much.

We should train ourselves to make quick decisions about most things.

Where to go to lunch, what car to buy, whether or not to upgrade our computer–these are not “20% decisions likely to lead to 80% of our results”. Where to take a prospect to lunch, for example, shouldn’t take more than a minute or two. It’s just not that important.

On the other hand, opening a new office, starting a new practice area, getting in bed with a partner–decisions that require research, thought, weighing of risks and rewards–are 20% decisions that can indeed lead to 80% of our results.

In the course of a day, you might make dozens of relatively unimportant decisions. Make them quickly and move on. You might make an important decision once a week. Take your time and do it right.

Plan less, do more

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You’re smart enough but are you lazy enough?

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You know I’m a fan of the book, “The 80/20 Principle” by Richard Koch. He wrote a sequel, “Living the 80/20 Way: Work Less, Worry Less, Succeed More, Enjoy More. In it, Koch quotes General Erich von Manstein, an officer in the German army, speaking about leadership:

“There are only four types of officers.

First, there are the lazy, stupid ones. Leave them alone, they do no harm.

Second, there are the hard-working intelligent ones. They make excellent staff officers, ensuring that every detail is properly considered.

Third, there are the hard-working, stupid ones. These people are a menace, and must be fired at once. They create irrelevant work for everybody.

Finally, there are the intelligent lazy ones. They are suited for the highest office.”

Different versions of this citation have appeared, sometimes attributing the quote to others. In 1942 Viscount Swinton (Philip Lloyd-Greame) spoke in the House of Lords in London. He described the four classes of officers and credited an unnamed German General:

The clever and lazy you make Chief of Staff, because he will not try to do everybody else’s work, and will always have time to think.

What does this tell us? I think it tells us that maybe we are too industrious for our own good. Maybe we need to do less work and more thinking. Maybe we need to delegate more work to hard-working intelligent people who will take care of the details while we take care of the big picture.

I’m going to take some time to think about this. How about you?

Behold: an easier way to get more referrals from other professionals

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