You only need a few

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Clients come and go. They pay us for our services and we may never hear from them again, even if they’re thrilled with our work.

They may return, they may refer, but as a whole, they are an unreliable asset. Treat them well, be there when they need you, stay in touch with them, but don’t count on them to do anything more than pay your bill.

Unless they show themselves to be among the precious few clients (and professional contacts) who can truly be described as a fan.

A fan is someone who promotes you, your services, your content, and your events. Someone who is not only willing to send you business but goes out of their way to do that, because they like you and appreciate you and want to help you.

They join your list and read everything you write. They share your content and send traffic to your blog. They praise you publicly, through reviews and testimonials, and privately, by telling people all about you.

When you recognize a fan, pay attention. Remember their name, take their calls, find out all about them and their business, and go out of your way to help them, and not just with legal services. Find out what they want or need in their business or personal life and help them get it.

Give your fans more attention than regular clients and contacts. Invite them into your inner circle and stay close to them.

Because they are your future. They can help your practice not just grow but multiply.

Fans will attract more fans, lead you to opportunities and opportunities to you. They are also a reminder that what you do is important.

Clients come and go. Fans are rare. But you only need a few.

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Big shots focus on the big picture

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You are a leader. Even if you are a one-person band, you are the guiding force in your practice or career.

You should do what leaders do.

You should spend most of your time and energy focused on big picture strategies that help you achieve your goals.

Most lawyers don’t. Most lawyers spend their days doing client work and mundane tasks, not building for the future.

Leaders lead. They choose the destination, the tactics and tools, and create an atmosphere that attracts and supports others who accompany them.

Leaders focus on

  • Strategic planning
  • Casting vision
  • Creating culture
  • Building relationships
  • Improving reputation
  • Professional development
  • Personal growth

The leader understands that the firm delivers professional services, but is also a business and must be profitable. The leader continually seeks ways to increase revenue and decrease expenses, to ensure the firm’s viability and future growth.

The leader prefers to grow the business by hiring new people, creating new marketing alliances, and expanding into new markets rather than putting in more hours.

Yes, someone has to see the clients, draft the documents, and win the cases. Sometimes the leader does that. Sometimes the leader delegates much of that to their team. Sometimes the leader delegates all of that to their team while they focus on the big picture.

As you look at this list, think about how you spend your time and ask yourself how much of it you spend doing what leaders do.

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Marketing leverage

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When it comes to marketing your practice, if you’re not growing as quickly as you would like to, you might stop and ask yourself if you’re making things harder than they need to be.

You can use your back and legs to lift a boulder, straining and struggling, huffing and puffing, or you can use a lever to make the bolder easier to lift.

You can use a lever in your marketing, too.

Instead of trying to find clients one at a time, doesn’t it make sense to find a few influential people who have the phone numbers of those clients on speed dial? Why not direct (some of) your marketing efforts towards the people who sell to, advise, or otherwise work with the kinds of people and businesses you would like to have as clients?

You already know this works. You know professionals, business executives, consultants, entrepreneurs, and others who are influential in your target market. Some of them have sent you referrals. Some have introduced you to people who have asked you to speak or asked to interview you for their podcast or have asked you to write for their blog.

You want to know more people like this.

Because they can help you achieve your marketing goals in a fraction of the time than you could on your own.

It might take time to develop those relationships, but they can bear fruit for decades to come. They can also expedite your growth as they introduce you to other centers of influence in your target market.

Where do you start?

Step One: Identify them

That’s easy. They look a lot like your existing referral sources and business contacts. Start by identifying categories, by profession or business, industry or niche, and by other factors.

Once you have a list of categories, identify individual candidates. Talk to the people you know and ask them who they know who fit that description. Or hit up your favorite search engine and find their websites.

Step Two: Contact them

Also easy. Ask your existing contacts to introduce you, or pick up the phone and introduce yourself. Most have their phone number on their website.

Step Three: Build a relationship with them

This is where the rubber meets the road. This is what takes time and effort.

But not as much as you might think.

We’re talking about a business relationship, not courtship and marriage.

You talk to them, find out more about what they do, and tell them a bit about yourself. And you explore ways you can help each other (and each other’s clients or customers).

You find out if there is any synergy, and chemistry. And you see where it goes. Which is no doubt what you did when you built relationships with your current business contacts.

The key is to be willing to help others without the expectation of getting something in return.

When you do that, when you approach this with an open mind and heart, you build trust and open doors to new opportunities.

Where will it lead? Maybe nowhere. But if just a few of these new contacts want to work with you, it could be the start of a new and exciting chapter in the story of your career.

How to identify, approach, and build relationships with influential people—step-by-step

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You can change your name, but not your stripes

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Jimmy, the protagonist in Better Call Saul, couldn’t do it. Changing his name didn’t change who he was.

That’s true for all of us. How we think, what we do, who we are.

Our beliefs about ourselves and the world are the core of our “operating system”. And while we can change our beliefs, we can’t do it by changing our name.

Our beliefs determine our attitudes towards the choices we make, the things we do and how we do them. Our activities determine the results we get. And our results determine our success and lifestyle.

Look at how this works in the context of marketing and managing a law practice.

(1) Our beliefs determine our attitudes

If you believe that that nothing is achieved in life without hard work, that there are no shortcuts, no such thing as “working smarter,” you will no doubt be skeptical about strategies that suggest otherwise.

You would be reluctant to try these strategies because they are inconsistent with your core beliefs.

If you did try any of these strategies, you might do so with an attitude that says, “Those things never work” and you may seek to prove you’re right.

On the other hand, if you believe that some “working smarter” strategies can work, you’ll be open to learning more and giving some strategies an honest try

(2) Our attitudes affect our activities

If you believe working smarter is possible, that you can increase your income without working more hours (and even by working fewer hours), you’ll be willing and perhaps eager to explore strategies that promise that outcome.

Your attitude will be “let’s see” instead of “no way.” And if you try those strategies, you’ll look for ways to make them work instead of trying to prove they won’t.

You may have always used hourly billing in your practice, for example, but you may be willing to try flat fee billing. If you’ve tried it before, you may be willing to try it again.

You’ll at least be open to getting more information about ways to do it effectively and to see how other lawyers are doing it.

(3) Our activity determines our results

Your activities—what you do, how you do it, how much you do and for how long, determine the results you get.

Do more marketing activities, do them better, and you’ll bring in more clients. Try different billing methods and if you find one that allows you to earn more from the same work, you’ll increase your income without putting in more hours.

Maybe even by working fewer hours.

(4) Our results determine our success and lifestyle

If you are able to increase your income by working smarter instead of working harder, in the case of our example, by successfully implementing flat fee billing, you will earn more without working more.

You’ll be able to do that because you believed it was possible.

Our beliefs guide our attitudes, our attitudes affect our activities, our activities determine our results, and our results are how we measure success.

How does this explain the success of people who lie, cheat, and steal their way through life? Who believe that the way to succeed is to do whatever it takes, even if it’s wrong?

They may get away with it, but only for so long. Eventually, their nature catches up with them.

And changing their name, or the name of their company, won’t stop that.

Get the Check: Stress-Free Legal Billing and Collection

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The key to earning more and working less

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If you want to earn more without working more, or earn more and work less, the simplest way to do that is to find ways to use leverage in your work.

Leverage means getting more with less. Less time, less capital, less effort.

When you hire an employee, you’re using leverage. When you create a checklist that allows you to get your work done faster or better or with fewer errors, you’re using leverage. When you conduct a seminar and deliver your message to 100 people at the same time, you’re using leverage.

Leverage also means using what you’ve got to get more of what you want. It can help your practice achieve compound growth.

When you win a big case or land a big client, your income grows. Featuring that win in your marketing can bring you new clients who choose you as their lawyer because you win big cases or represent big clients.

That’s leverage.

Use what you have to get more of what you want.

You have a base a clients. You can leverage that base to stimulate more referrals.

You have knowledge and experience. You can leverage this to improve your services, your marketing, and your productivity.

You have business contacts. You can use these relationships to meet new contacts and discover new opportunities.

Why work hard when you can work smart? Why spend a fortune in time and capital when you can get bigger results with less?

Leverage allowed me to quadruple the income in my practice while simultaneously reducing the number of hours I spent in the office.

If you want to grow your practice quickly, leverage what you have to get more of what you want.

This system shows you how to do that.

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What ‘working smarter’ looks like

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There are lots of ways to work smarter. Targeting niche markets instead of “anyone with a legal problem” is an example. Networking with influential professionals in your target market instead of generic ‘Chamber of Commerce’ attendees is another.

One of the simplest ways to work smarter is to continue doing what’s working and abandon what isn’t.

And also doing what’s working for other lawyers.

No, don’t copy them. Emulate them. Do what they’re doing but do it better.

When I started practicing, there weren’t many examples of lawyers doing things I could emulate. I wasn’t a member of the country club crowd and I didn’t have money to advertise, so I had to get inventive.

I looked at what other self-employed service professionals, salespeople, and business owners were doing for ideas. Much of it didn’t apply but some of it did. Eventually, I found some things that worked and made them my own.

Years ago, a fast food company hired someone to go out and locate profitable sites for new restaurants. His job entailed examining car traffic and foot traffic, retail sales per square foot, rent comparisons and other factors.

But he didn’t do any of that.

All he did was locate all the McDonald’s in town and choose a location across the street. McDonald’s had already done the research and proven the value of the location and he piggybacked on their success.

Working smarter, he did. And so can, you.

You need a marketing plan. This will help

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The three-day workweek

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I just read an article about Richard Branson who believes that working fewer hours can be equally–if not more–effective.

I agree.

As you know, I did this in my practice. I cut my week to three days and quadrupled my income. I did it by specializing, hiring good people and delegating as much as possible, and making marketing a priority.

When I say, “earn more and work less,” I don’t just mean you can do both, I mean that you can earn more by working less. Branson says that shorter hours (and flexible hours) allow people to relax and recharge and find more balance between their work and personal life. “Through this balance, they become happier and more productive,” he says.

Branson says that technology is the key to working fewer hours. I didn’t have access to technology but I can’t disagree with this. Being able to work remotely, for example, might have allowed me to visit the office just once or twice a week.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. I’ve heard all the “yes-buts,” all the reasons you can’t work fewer hours or you can’t do it without suffering a loss of income. If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re right. You can’t. Your belief won’t let you.

If you want to earn more and work less, you have to start by believing it’s possible. When you do, you can find ways to make it happen.

Instead of saying, “I can’t. . .” you ask, “How can I. . .”.

How I earned more by working less

 

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Create the life you deserve

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I saw an ad for a book with the title, “Create the life you deserve”. I thought, “we always do”.

We get what we deserve, not necessarily what we want. Our actions determine our outcomes. If we want more, we have to do more.

Cause and effect.

Some people get windfalls, it’s true. More than they (appear to ) deserve. We call them lucky. But maybe they deserved more and we just couldn’t see it. Karma? Law of attraction? God’s will?

Some people think they are entitled to more just because they exist. Last time I checked, in this country at least, we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and a few others. Anything else, we have to earn.

How much is in your bank account right now? That’s what you deserve, down to the decimal point. If you want to increase the number, you have to get to work.

And yet, there are shortcuts. Ways to use leverage to get more results with less effort. Getting paid for the work of your employees is an obvious example.

You’re not cheating the universe when you do this. The universe doesn’t demand that we trade our time for dollars. It simply promises to deliver value commensurate with the value you create.

So, how much value will you create today?

Leverage is the key to earning more without working more

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Have I got a deal for you!

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It’s Memorial Day weekend and everybody and his brother is having a sale. Everyone except lawyers. But that doesn’t mean we have to miss out on all the fun.

Do you have any clients or business contacts who are having a sale? Why not email your other clients and contacts and tell them about it.

Wait. Maybe your business clients are willing to offer a little extra to people who mention your name.

How ’bout them apples.

Your clients will appreciate you for tipping them off (and arranging the extra discount). Your business clients will appreciate you for sending business their way.

Could it get any easier?

What’s that? You don’t have any (or many) business clients or contacts who are having a sale?

No problem. Go knock on some doors.

Talk to some local business owners and ask them if they’re planning to (or willing to) put anything on sale. Tell them you’re sending an email to all your clients and you’d be happy to mention them.

Hold on. You’re not done. Ask if they know other merchants (businesses, professionals, etc.) you might talk to. Betcha they do.

This is a simple way to meet and introduce yourself to business owners, get on their radar and in their good graces.

Who knows, they might mention you in their newsletter. Or let you put some brochures on their counter or in their waiting room. Or send you some referrals. Because no other lawyers in town are promoting their business.

Leverage is a wonderful thing

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Will your law practice make you rich?

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I was reading one of “those” articles, you know, the ones that give you a list of reasons why certain types of people, habits, or beliefs are more conducive to success.

This one was about what rich people do differently.

One of the items on the list caught my eye because it’s something I did in my practice and something I preach in my sermons to you.

Verily: “Rich People Choose to Get Paid Based on Results”

When I began my practice, I charged by the hour and made a good income “per hour”. I earned a lot more, however, when I moved away from hourly work and focused on cases that paid contingency fees. It didn’t matter how many (or how few) hours I worked on a case. On more than a few cases, I earned the equivalent of thousands of dollars per hour.

If you practice in areas that aren’t conducive to contingency fees, there are other ways to be compensated that aren’t tied to the number of hours you work.

Charge by the matter, not by the hour. Ask for higher fees or bonuses for better results. Work with clients who offer equity instead of just cash. Hire more attorneys and earn the difference between what you pay them and what you bill the client.

If you can’t do this, look for other opportunities, outside of your practice. Because you’ll never get rich trading time for money.

How to do legal billing right

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