The simplest way to increase your income

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

Is that the best you can do?

Share

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

Share

Have you done an expense audit lately?

Share

When was the last time you looked at the expense side of your bookkeeping ledger, looking for ways to reduce the cost of doing business?

Every dollar you don’t spend on overhead is a dollar in your pocket. Cutting expenses by just $100 a month increases the value of your practice by $12,000 (assuming a 10% cap rate).

Once or twice a year, schedule time to examine your expenses and ruthlessly cut the fat.

Ask yourself, “Do I really need __________?” and get rid of anything you can live without. Once you’ve done that, go back through the list and ask, “How can I reduce this expense?”

What could you eliminate? What could you negotiate? What could you replace with something that costs less?

Ask your bank what you can do to cut or eliminate fees. Look at what other banks charge and use that as leverage to negotiate with your bank or switch your accounts to the bank with lower fees.

Look at your library costs. Do you really need everything on the list or could you make do with less?

Look at your insurance expenses. Can you increase your deductibles, eliminate coverage, or take advantage of discounts? Get quotes from other carriers. You may be shocked at how much you can save by switching.

Examine your equipment costs (copier, fax machine, scanner, computers, etc.) Would it be cheaper to buy instead of lease? Would it pay to replace some equipment with something that uses lower-cost consumables?

Look at everything–couriers, interpreters, stenographers, medical records reproduction, shredding, storage, investigators. Look at the cost of apps and online services, memberships, and service contracts. Look at your office rent and utilities. Look at your advertising, websites, and other Internet expenses.

Office supplies: do you really need the most expensive legal pads?

Meals and entertainment: are you getting business out of those lunches with prospective clients and referral sources? Could you find another restaurant that doesn’t charge as much? Could you meet for coffee instead of lunch?

How might you reduce expenses for employees, virtual assistants, and freelancers?

Examine the checks you’ve written and the purchases on your credit cards. Ask your accountant to look at your expenses and tell you where you are spending more than other lawyers or professionals. Reward your employees who find viable ways to reduce overhead.

Don’t obsess over expenses but don’t ignore them either. Look at everything, so you know how much you’re spending, and on what. And when you’re done, grab your personal ledgers and have a go at them.

Share

7 out of 10 lawyers agree

Share

Remember that toothpaste commercial from years ago claiming that, “7 out of 10 dentists agree. . .”? What if I told you the real number was “8 out of 10”? Why on earth would they low-ball it?

Actually, I don’t know what the real numbers were. They might have been “8 out of 10,” “9 out of 10,” or nearly “10 out of 10,” but they would have been smart to use a lower number.

Because “7 out of 10” is more believable than “9 out of 10”.

“7 out of 10” has verisimilitude. The appearance of truth. Which is a critical element in sales and persuasion. Because if your prospective client, reader, judge or jury, doesn’t believe your assertion or promise, it doesn’t matter that it is true.

As long as there are no legal or ethical reasons why you shouldn’t do it, it’s better to understate the truth.

I guess you could call this “reverse exaggeration”.

Anyway, remember this for your presentations, negotiations, advertising, motions, and anything else where you want to persuade someone to do something. If the real numbers or facts stretch credulity, lie (in a positive way) to tell them something they will believe.

Add qualifiers if you must. Say, “More than. . .” or “Better than. . .” before your statement, to cover your behind and let your conscious be clear. But as long as what you say is true, it doesn’t matter that it’s not completely accurate.

Okay? Make sense? Good stuff.

Now before I let you go, you’re probably wondering what it is that 7 out of 10 lawyers agree on?

You probably think I’m going to say “nothing”. Lawyers are a bunch of cantankerous, argumentative, pugnacious souls, genetically incapable of agreeing on anything.

But this isn’t true. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

Most lawyers, more than 7 out of 10 I am sure, agree about nearly everything. No, not when it comes to arguing a client’s case or negotiating their lease. We do the job we’re paid to do. I’m talking about things like marketing and image, the things that allow us to stand out from other lawyers so that clients will choose us instead of them.

When it comes to marketing, most lawyers look the same.

You could take their ads, marketing documents, presentations, and the like, put another lawyer’s name on it, and no one would be the wiser.

The reasons aren’t important. What’s important is that because 7 out of 10 (or is it 8 out of 10?) lawyers conform and follow the same (narrow) practice-building and career-building path, most lawyers never get past “average”.

Average activities, average results, average income, average lifestyle.

If you want to stand out from other lawyers and have more clients choose you, if you want to have a better than average lifestyle, you need to be one of the 3 who isn’t like the other 7.

Let everyone else do what everyone else does. You be one of the few who doesn’t.

To be different, start here

Share

I like big checks and I can not lie

Share

I like big checks. The bigger the better. Yeah, I admit it. Big checks really make my day.

Wire transfers, direct deposits, and piles of cash also make my heart sing. If it spends, I like it. That’s just how I roll.

I like big checks and I can not lie. You other lawyers can’t deny, that when a client walks in and pays big money it’s exciting–a thing of beauty to behold.

Yeah, I like big checks, because big checks let me pay big bills and buy big things and watch my bank account grow.

Nothing wrong with that. It’s natural. So if you have a big check I want to talk to ya.

But you know what? I also like little checks. Because little checks can pay little bills and lots of little checks can pay lots of little bills.

It’s a beautiful thing.

And clients with little checks can come back and I’m always happy to see them. Sometimes they come back with big checks, and you know I like that. Sometimes they send you their friends with little checks, and big checks, too.

It’s all good.

So yeah, I like big checks but if you’ve got a small check, I like that, too.

Client got check.

C’mon, you know you want more referrals

Share

Maybe you should start a side business

Share

During my career, I’ve started more than a few businesses. While not every business was successful, each business taught me something about commerce and marketing and about working with people–partners and customers alike.

And that’s one reason I suggest you start a side business.

Selling products is different from selling professional services. You’ll be introduced to strategies and techniques you may have never considered and be able to use some of them. You might, for example, find that advertising isn’t an abomination and find ways to use it to build your practice.

The second reason for starting a side business is that the business itself might be an excellent way to indirectly expand your practice. If you handle PI, divorce, estate planning, bankruptcy, or other consumer practice areas where almost anyone is a potential client, your side business could introduce you to a world of new contacts. Some of those contacts will need your services. Others will become new referral sources.

The third reason for starting a business is that it might provide you with additional income for retirement, or an exit strategy when your practice tells you it’s time to move on.

My network marketing business has been all of those things for me.

I know you’re wondering how you could possibly justify taking time away from your practice to start a business. I asked myself the same thing when I started looking.

The answer to that question is “part time”. Find a business that doesn’t require full time to run. Fortunately, there are many businesses today that fit the bill.

Also, look at your ROI. Yes, it will take time to run a side business, but if the time you invest therein brings lots of new clients for your practice, or lots of income from the business itself, if your ROI is big enough, then your investment will have paid off.

I don’t know if starting a business is right for you, or if you will find the right one for you, but I encourage you to look at what’s available. Even if you never take the plunge, you’ll learn some things and meet some people, and the next time you meet with a prospective client who owns a business, you’ll have a lot more to talk about.

Leverage is key to increasing your income

Share

I’d rather have four quarters than 100 pennies

Share

I love keeping things simple. But simplicity for simplicity’s sake is a foolish economy if it results in fewer or poorer results. “Leverage” means getting MORE results with less effort, or at least more results with the same effort.

A marketing guy I follow echoed my philosophy when he said, “I’d rather have four quarters than 100 pennies”. He was talking about the value of having fewer but better clients.

Fewer clients with bigger cases, or fewer clients who have more work for you and are willing and able to pay higher fees.

Fewer but better clients means you have fewer hands to hold, problems to solve, and fires to put out. It means you can spend more time and more money bringing in new clients and keeping them happy. It means you can earn more income with less effort.

That’s why I talk about letting the mass market of lawyers handle the mass market of clients, while you focus on the upper crust. Let everyone else fight over the scraps while you feast on the steak.

Unless you are especially well funded or daring, you probably won’t be able to do this immediately. But you can immediately state this as your objective and start working in that direction.

When you make it your intent to transition your practice to better clients, you start looking at the universe of clients differently. You make changes to your ads and marketing documents and websites, you start networking with a different crowd, and you do other things that affirm the new direction of your practice.

Eventually, you will embrace this new paradigm and make bigger changes. You eliminate marginal practice areas, for example, and focus on one or two. You might cut down on marketing channels or techniques and focus on the ones that are better suited to the practice you are trying to create.

You may be nervous about some of these changes. I know I was when I started turning down business. There’s a big void in your file drawer when you no longer handle anything that shows up, but if your experience is anything like mine was, you will quickly fill that void with new and better clients.

Then, one day, you’ll get your first “quarter”–a big case or client–and you’ll realize that if you can get one, you can get more. And that’s when everything will change.

This helps you create a profile of your ideal client

Share

Solve problems by asking “why?”

Share

Toddlers are experts at asking “why?” Why do I have to go to bed? Why can’t I have ice cream? Why are you and daddy wrestling with your clothes off?

They ask why so they can better understand the world around them. When they get an answer they don’t like or don’t understand, they ask why again.

Adults also ask why. But unlike our little tykes, we often accept the first answer and fail to dig deeper.

If you realize that you’re not going to have enough money to pay all of your bills this month, for example, and you ask yourself why, you might look at your accounts receivable and solve your problem by sending out “late” notices to clients who owe you money.

That might be a good idea, and it might solve the immediate problem, but it doesn’t help you to get to the root problem.

So next month, you might again have a shortage of cash.

Asking “why” you have a problem helps you find the solution, but asking once may not be enough, as this post explains.

In Japanese, Kaizen roughly translates to “continuous improvement”. One of the discipline’s techniques for problem solving is to ask “why” 5 times. This helps you find the root problem.

Here’s how you might apply this to your money problem:

  1. Why don’t you have enough money to cover this month’s bills? Because I don’t have enough clients.
  2. Why don’t you have enough clients? Because I don’t do enough marketing.
  3. Why don’t you do enough marketing? Because I’m not good at it.
  4. Why aren’t you good at marketing? Because I haven’t found enough strategies that I am comfortable using.
  5. Why haven’t you found enough strategies? Because I haven’t spent enough time learning about the available options or how to use them.

The root of your money problem, and the solution thereto, is thus revealed.

If you stop asking “why” after your first answer (not enough clients), you may not discover a solution other than sending out late notices. If you stop after your answer to the third “why,” (you’re not good at marketing) you might conclude that things are hopeless for you in this department and give up.

Ask why 5 times and see where it takes you.

Why? Because I said so. Now go play with your toys. Mommy and Daddy are busy.

Avoid having to send out late notices with this

Share

Time is money. Unless it’s not.

Share

If you bill by the hour, time literally is money. You get paid based on how many hours you work. If you offer flat fees, contingency fees, or anything other than hourly billing, however, time isn’t money. It’s just time.

When you bill by the hour, there are only four ways you can increase your income. You can raise your hourly fee. You can work more hours. You can lower your overhead. Or you can hire people to do some of the work and pay them less per hour than you bill your client.

Unless you use one or more of these methods, you can’t increase your income. Bringing in more clients won’t do it because there are only so many hours you can bill in a day.

If you want to earn more, instead of selling your time, you should be selling your advice or your problem-solving solutions. Not only will you earn more per client, the more clients you bring in, the more you will earn.

If you charge $400 per hour and bill out $2000 per day, you’re earning $10,000 per week, which is nothing to sneeze at. But you’ll never earn $30,000 per week.

I know it’s “hard” to come up with an alternative to hourly billing that protects you when you estimate too low or when contingencies occur, but it’s not impossible.

First, you need to stop thinking like a lawyer and start thinking like an entrepreneur. Instead of trying to eliminate risk, you will intelligently manage risk and use the law of averages to your advantage

If you take on twenty hourly-billed clients who each pay you $5000 to $20,000, or an average of $10,000, you take in $200,000 in gross fees. If you charge flat fees, however, and twenty clients each pay you $15,000, you gross $300,000. Now, if one or two of those twenty clients or cases wind up costing you more than you expected, even double what you expected, you’re still way ahead of the game.

I know I’ve said this many times before but I thought it was time for a reminder. Because time isn’t money. Unless it is.

How to earn more per client: here 

Share