Three ways to level up your practice

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When it comes to growing a law practice, slow and steady works. But, by definition, it’s slow. What if you want to grow quickly? What if you want to dramatically increase your income in a relatively short period of time?

Oh yes, it can be done. Some lawyers do it right out of the law school gate. Some do it when they reach their “day of disgust” and finally decide to get serious about marketing. Some do it when they see their numbers dropping and their fear of losing everything motivates them to finally take action.

But it can be done.

There are lots of things you could do to dramatically increase your income. I’m going to give you three. But more important than “what you do” is “what you think” and so first, I’m going to give you a few mindset adjustments.

First, to significantly boost your income you’ll need to do things that offer a big potential payoff. That means there might be additional risk and additional expense and you have to be prepared to accept this. You also need to be prepared to do things that take you outside your comfort zone.

Second, you have to jettison the idea that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time you work and the amount of income you earn. It’s not about how long it takes to do the work, it’s about how much value you deliver.

Third, you have to look for ways to employ leverage. One of the simplest ways to do that is to hire (more) people or outsource, and delegate as much of your work as possible. Rule of thumb: you should ONLY do those things that ONLY you can do. NB: there is very little that ONLY you can do.

Fourth, no matter how good you are getting things done you’ll probably need to get better. If you want to dramatically grow your practice, working harder is an option but so is working smarter.

Working smarter means “doing the right things,” the “20% activities that deliver 80% of your results and income”. It also means “doing things right”–getting the work done more quickly, efficiently, and with less effort.

With these principles in mind, here are three ways you might level up your practice:

(1) Bigger cases or better clients.

Bigger cases pay bigger fees. Why settle for an average fee of $10,000 when you could get $25,000? Or $100,000? The cases are out there and there’s no reason why you can’t get them.

Better clients pay higher fees and have more legal work. Why settle for “one of” work when you can bring in clients who have a steady stream of work?

(2) Increase your fees

One of the simplest ways to earn more is to charge more. Consider increasing your fees.

Not ten or fifteen percent, thirty percent. Fifty percent. 100%. Or more.

Crazy? Maybe. But maybe not. There’s only one way to find out.

Yes, you’ll lose some clients who can’t afford the increase or don’t want to pay it, but the new clients you bring in could more than offset those losses.

(3) Better referral sources (and more of them)

One of the best ways to bring in more business is to find referral sources that can send you more clients (and better clients, while you’re at it). Find professionals who can refer you five clients per month instead of five clients per year.

They’re out there and you can find them. Here’s a hint: they usually hang out with each other. Find one and they will lead you to others.

So, what do you think? Are you thinking, “These won’t work for me,” or are you thinking, “How can I make these work for me?”

Your attitude will determine your altitude. Translation: if you want to get big, fast, you need to think big and take massive action.

And remember, if you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

Plan your plan with this

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I would if I could but I can’t so I won’t

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It looks like self-driving vehicles are here to stay. As this new industry grows, a lot of people will make a fortune.

Wouldn’t it be great to get some of that action?

Maybe you can.

Maybe you can target your legal services towards companies in the supply chain. Help them grow, comply with new regulations, protect their IP, make deals. Maybe you could focus on torts, representing manufacturers or consumers. Or maybe you can work the legislative side of things, representing associations, consumer groups, lobbyists, or municipalities.

How could you leverage your current skills, experience, and contacts to get a foot in this gigantic door? What new practice areas could you take on? What new skills could you learn?

Study the industry. Read everything. Become an expert on the legal issues. Go to industry events. Spend time with experts, entrepreneurs, consultants, and other professionals.

Ask lots of questions. Look for problems that need solving. Look at what others are doing and see if you can do the same.

If you find a way to participate, go for it. In two years or ten, you could be a major player in this new industry, or your research could lead you to other opportunities.

If you can’t see a way to leverage this trend–let it go.

You tried, it wasn’t there for you. Go find something else to get excited about. Maybe “drone law” is a thing.

Unless you can’t let it go.

If you are enamored with the self-driving wave, if you love reading about it and watching videos and talking to people, if you want to be the first kid on your block to drive, uh, own a self-driving vehicle, stick with it.

You may never find a way to marry your interest with your law practice but it’s nice to have a hobby that fulfills you. A happy hobbyist makes a happy lawyer.

At least that’s what I tell myself.

How to find and approach new referral sources

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The yin and yang of multiple streams of income

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Multiple streams of income sounds appealing, doesn’t it? If one source of income is lagging, it’s nice to know you have others. If one source takes off, you might be able to reduce or eliminate sources that require too much time or overhead.

But it’s difficult enough to build one business (practice), let alone simultaneously build two. We only have so many hours in a day, so much energy and enthusiasm, and so much capital. That’s why Mark Twain said, “Put all of your eggs in one basket and watch that basket”.

Another consideration is that if you start another business, you might frighten or confuse your clients. They may think you are struggling in your practice and wonder why. They may question your ability to continue serving them.

Nevertheless, at some point in our careers, we are all tempted by the notion of creating multiple streams of income. Before yielding to that temptation, here are some things to consider:

  • Unless you’re looking for an exit strategy, don’t even think of starting another business until you are secure in your main business. Make sure your practice is well established and successful and you have experienced staff in place to take care of most of the work while you explore your new venture.
  • Before looking outside your practice, look for ways to generate new sources of income inside of your practice. You might start new practice areas (by hiring new attorneys or outsourcing), offer the services of other professionals or businesses via joint ventures or as an affiliate, or produce books and courses or consult with other lawyers who want to learn your systems and methods.
  • Opening a second office for your practice will be easier to set up and run than any other new business. There’s also much less risk because you are duplicating what you know works.
  • Since most traditional businesses require a lot of time and/or capital, consider buying a franchise or starting a network marketing business. By leveraging the company’s existing systems, infrastructure, and tools, you won’t have to create them from scratch. You can also run your new business part time.
  • Consider buying a business instead of starting one. An existing business with a proven track record and an established management team and customer base will (theoretically) allow you to turn a profit sooner and with less risk.
  • If you have capital but not a lot of time, consider investing in an established business that is run by others, or in rental property.
  • If you want to start a business from scratch, you’ll be better off doing something law-related where you can use your knowledge, reputation, and contacts to get your business up and running more quickly.
  • Favor passive income businesses or investments. Get a business up and running and producing passive income, so you can then (a) start another business, (b), spend more time in your practice, or (c) retire.

It is definitely possible to create multiple streams of income. I’ve done it and so have many others. My advice? Be careful, be patient, and be open to learning and doing things you have never done before.

If you’re interested in starting a network marketing business, check out my books

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Unintended consequences can mess things up big league

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Last night, my wife and I did some shopping. At the checkout, we were reminded that California has just passed a law banning single-use plastic bags. Our options were to bring our own reusable bags (or, portable germ factories as I call them) or buy their multi-use bags at ten cents a pop.

Curiously, the multi-use bags are also plastic, so I’m guessing this is less a landfill thing than a California revenue thing, but whatever it is, I’m against it. (Horse Feathers.) So, like many of our co-shoppers, on principle, my wife and I put our purchases back in the cart, bagless, and proceeded towards the exit.

At the door, we were met by an employee who asked to see our receipt and then did a quick look at the contents of our cart. We received her blessing and left.

I wondered why the store had implemented this new procedure of checking carts and my wife pointed out that it was the new law. They needed to have someone make sure customers didn’t roll out the door without paying, something they didn’t have to do when we all had bags.

I had to laugh. This store, and others no doubt, now has to pay someone ($15 an hour) to stand by the door to prevent shoppers from ripping them off. Will the store pass this cost along to customers? Will another store attract their customers with offers to absorb the cost of the bags? Will absorbing the cost of bags be cheaper than hiring additional employees to guard the door? How might this affect online purchases and deliveries?

Unintended consequences.

The point is that any time you introduce something new, you have to think it through. Your new ad campaign, seminar, or website may attract new clients, for example, but alienate or confuse your current client base.

Everything has consequences. Make sure you consider them.

Good marketing begins with a good plan

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Keeping the main thing the main thing

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Yesterday, I talked about investing for a future when you might not be able to work or you may want to retire. I mentioned the option of starting a side business that has the potential to create passive income and pointed out that this is what I did.

I should have added a proviso about being careful about remembering your priorities, lest your Plan B tempt you to put more time and energy into it, to the detriment of your Plan A.

It’s difficult to build two businesses at the same time. Some say that at best you’ll have mediocre results in both and never achieve excellence in either. Speaking about the risks of diversification, Mark Twain said, “Put all of your eggs in one basket and WATCH THAT BASKET.”

But I think that if you’re careful, you can be successful in both your main business and your Plan B.

First, choose a Plan B that harmonizes with your Plan A. Choose something that allows you to leverage your knowledge and reputation and contacts to help you build your side business. Choose something that, when your clients and contacts find out about it, they say, “That sounds like a good investment,” instead of, “It sounds like he’s giving up his practice.”

Second, be mindful about timing. Put most of your time and effort into building your practice or primary business, until you get to the point where you can safely peel off some time and money to invest in something new.

If you’re smart about it, you can have the best of both of both worlds. Your practice will provide you with cash flow to raise your kids and have a good life, and your Plan B will provide you with passive income to fund retirement or the next phase of your life.

Since there are only so many hours in a day, and you only have so many years to live, you’ve got to keep the main thing the main thing. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing you can ever do.

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How much do you earn when you’re not working?

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I have to visit the doctor today. It’s nothing serious but it made me think, “What if it was?” “What if I was truly ill and had to stop working?”

Fortunately, I don’t have to work. I have enough passive income coming in to take care of the essentials.

How about you?

What would you do if you got sick and had to stop working? What if you want to retire?

Most lawyers trade their time for dollars. Even if they don’t bill by the hour, their income is tied to the amount of work they do.

More work (more time) means more income. No work means no income.

Even if you’re a partner or you have staff that does most of the work, you still have to show up, make decisions, and supervise.

You may be extraordinarily well paid, but how much will you earn if you don’t work?

If you’ve been good about saving and investing and have assets that provide passive income (interest, dividends, rents, royalties, etc.), or you own a business with partners or a management team in place and it doesn’t require your active participation, you may be good. If you don’t, what will you do?

I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but you have to admit that this is something you have to think about.

Start a savings plan. Study investing. Find a side business that doesn’t require a lot of time. (That’s what I did.)

But don’t put it off.

“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago,” says the Chinese proverb. “The second best time is now.”

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How could I earn $500,000 per year?

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I talk to many lawyers who tell me they couldn’t afford to hire themselves. This isn’t a condemnation of their fees, it is a comment on the sad state of their income.

They’re not making much money. What can they do?

The first step to solving a problem is to admit that you have one. If you’re not earning as much as you would like to, admit it. Acknowledge your current reality.

Because if you don’t, you’re going to have a hard time changing that reality.

The next step is to ask yourself a question.

Don’t ask yourself “why” you’re not earning more, however. All you’ll get are excuses. Instead of lamenting your current state of affairs and wishing it was different, ask yourself a question that primes your subconscious mind to find the solution.

Ask yourself, “How could I earn $500,000 per year?” and let your subconscious mind go to work for you.

“How could I. . .” is a powerful question. Ask it a couple of times a day, especially just before you fall asleep. Let it percolate in the deep recesses of your brain. Let your subconscious mind come up with ideas and put them before you.

Write down all of the ideas that come forth, and keep asking.

Your brain will no doubt tell you that one thing you need to do is bring in more clients. It might even do the math for you and reveal that you need 100 new clients or cases per year, for example. So now, you have a new question to ask: “How can I bring in 100 new clients per year?”

You’ll get ideas. “Well, I could advertise. I could get more referrals. I could add more content to my site.”

Referrals sound good. So ask, “How could I get more referrals?”

More asking, more ideas. Keep asking “how” until you have some things you can do. And do them.

There are solutions to almost any problem. You may find them by accident, but you’ll have a better chance of finding them if you ask the right questions.

Don’t ask why, ask how.

To get more referrals, get this

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The simplest way to increase your income

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You have a target market, don’t you? Or are you still offering your services to “anybody” with a legal matter you are equipped to handle? If it’s the latter, we need to talk.

But not now.

Now I’m going to assume that you have read my stuff and you are on board about targeting specific markets and ideal clients in those markets, and you do that. I’m also going to assume that you’re ready to expand into a new target market.

You currently target health care professionals for your estate planning services, for example, and you’re thinking about also targeting financial professionals.

Great. But there’s something else you should do first.

First, you should find ways to offer additional services to your existing market. It’s easier, quicker, cheaper, and more profitable than going into a new market. Sell more services to people who already know and trust you before you market to strangers.

Make sense?

What additional services could you offer to your existing market? What else do you do that they haven’t yet “bought”?

If your market needs and wants something you don’t do, offer them someone else’s services. Work out strategic alliances with other lawyers and service providers to offer their services to your market. In return, they agree to offer your services to their market.

Leverage your existing relationships and reputation. It is the simplest way to increase your income.

Earn more, work less: click here

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Would you rather have more clients or higher-paying clients?

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Yesterday, I did a consultation with a lawyer who has a high-volume/low-fee practice. I asked him, “Would you rather have 50 new $1,000 clients each month or two $25,000 clients?”

I wanted him to upgrade his practice towards the higher end of the client spectrum. You have less overhead, less stress, and less work to do to produce the same income. And you don’t have to compete with everyone and his brother because there is no competition at the top.

I pointed out that he already had a suitable niche market, a certain group of business owners who could provide him with referrals and introductions to other professionals who serve that market.

He said he would need to take CLE classes before he could do this. I suggested that until he was proficient, he could associate with another lawyer who has the experience.

He also said he would need to hire another attorney to handle some of his current caseload, and he’s willing to do that.

So he has a plan.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Niche marketing is smart. Here’s how to do it

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Is that the best you can do?

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Does it ever seem like there’s an invisible ceiling over your head that limits your ability to earn more income? Do you ever wonder if you’ve hit a plateau in your career?

Wonder no more, my friend. If you believe you’ve reached your peak, you have, because your beliefs determine your reality.

Your limitations are all in your head. They’ve probably been there a long time. Parental messages probably had something to do with it, and a whole bunch of other things. But what’s important isn’t how you developed your current beliefs but how you can change them.

Because if you don’t change your beliefs about yourself and about what’s possible, those beliefs are going to continue to hold you back.

How do you do it? How do you change your deep-seated, long-held beliefs?

Hypnosis? Therapy? Visiting a sweat lodge? Can you read your way to a new self-image? Take courses? Hire a coach?

To some extent, all of the above have some value because doing them, even thinking about doing them, signals your self-conscious mind that you want to change.

But I have another option for you: get some new friends.

Yep, one of the best things you can do to change your life is to spend time with different people. People who have done what you want to do and people who have what you want to have.

While you’re at it, spend less time with, or completely disassociate from, people who don’t.

The so-called “law of association” says that we become like the people we associate with most. If you hang out with people of one political persuasion, for example, the odds are you are on the same side. If they work hard, you probably do, too. If they exercise and eat well, you are more likely to do the same.

If your friends and business associates read a lot, you’re more likely to do that, and more likely to read what they’re reading. If they invest their money wisely, you are more likely to think twice before buying into the latest fad.

When we associate with people, we tend to adopt their way of looking at the world. We learn their “language”. We adopt their habits. We share many of the same beliefs. Those beliefs influence our attitude towards what we do and don’t do, and those activities determine our results.

And let’s not forget that the people we know can introduce us to other people like themselves, and open doors to new opportunities. If you want new opportunities, you need to know some new people.

Think about the people you spend the most time with right now. Your closest friends. Your colleagues. Your professional contacts. The odds are that your income and lifestyle are on a par with theirs. If you’re happy about that, great. If not, if you want to achieve more, you should probably find some new friends.

Here’s how to find and meet new professionals who can send you referrals

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