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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Some thoughts about multiple streams of income

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My income doesn’t depend on any one source. That affords me a degree of safety and peace of mind and lets me peruse creative interests. I didn’t create these sources of income at the same time, however, and if you’re thinking about starting something new, neither should you.

Don’t spread yourself in too many directions or you will find it difficult to excel at anything.

Mark Twain said, “Put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket”. If you want another basket, make sure the eggs in your first basket are safe.

Make sure you have partners or employees you trust and systems in place that afford you time to invest in your new venture. And, if possible, choose as your next venture something that allows you to leverage the knowledge, contacts, and resources you developed in your practice or first business. This will give you a running start.

On the other hand, it is by no means clear that you should do anything other than what you’re already doing. If you’re doing well and enjoy it, why stop?

Don’t start something new merely because you think you must have additional sources of income. You don’t. Unless you have a strong reason to start a new business, you’re almost always better off taking what you’ve already built and making it even bigger.

As you develop excess cash flow, you can invest it in ventures that don’t require much of your time or mental bandwidth.

I retired from my practice because I didn’t want to do it anymore. If that had not been the case, I probably would be just as happy and prosperous today, or even more so.

How to earn more and work less: click here

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Go plagiarize yourself

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I have another project for you for the new year. In a nutshell, you’re going to inventory everything you’ve written or recorded in the past so you can use it again.

It’s about leverage. Getting more value out of your previous work, and saving a bunch of time and effort in the process.

First, gather up the following and put them into digital files:

  • Forms, documents, and other work product.
  • Frequently used emails and letters.
  • Content: articles, blog posts, newsletters, podcast, video, and interview transcripts, presentations, reports, ebooks, etc.

You might break up work product by practice area, type of matter, type of client, or stage of the proceeding. Instead of files, you can use tags or labels.

Calendar some time in the coming weeks to go through your files, and then:

  • Update forms and documents. Create an index of these documents, with searchable tags.
  • Convert emails and letters into boilerplate: transmittal, demands, notices, client updates, marketing, newsletters, etc.

Re-use, update, or re-purpose other content:

  • Re-publish blog posts, newsletters, and articles. Or combine parts of several posts to create new ones.
  • Convert blog posts, articles, podcasts, and interviews into ebooks, reports, presentations, social media posts, lead magnets (giveaways), and bonuses. Convert presentations, ebooks, reports, etc., into blog posts.
  • Update older posts, etc., with new information, new results, different opinions, predictions, etc. Consolidate several posts into round-up posts. Break up longer posts into shorter ones.
  • Modify marketing documents for use with different types of readers or markets

Do a little bit each week and you should soon find yourself saving time and getting better results.

You should also set up files to save copies of “incoming” content from other lawyers–documents, emails they sent you, (subscribe to their newsletters), forms they use (when you sub-in on a file), and so on. No, don’t plagiarize their stuff, use it for ideas for updating yours.

C’mon, you know they’re doing that with your stuff, don’t you?

Evernote for Lawyers

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Looking for clients in all the wrong places

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When you’re new, starting to build a practice, you do everything and anything to bring in business. If you’re still doing that after you’ve been around awhile, you’re missing the boat.

When you’re new, the objective is to build a client base. Once you do that, that base of existing and former clients, prospective clients, and professional contacts you’ve made along the way is your best source of new business.

I’m not saying you should stop networking or advertising or creating content. I’m saying it shouldn’t be your main focus.

Focus on retaining existing clients. Keep them happy. Get them to hire you again. Make it easy for them to refer.

Focus on getting existing and former clients to hire you again and buy your other services. If you don’t have other services they need, promote the services of other professionals you know and ask them to do the same for you.

Focus on converting prospects into clients. Offer them an introductory deal they can’t refuse and if they’re not ready, stay in touch with them until they are.

Focus on getting your professional contacts to refer more often and to introduce you to their colleagues.

Focus on building stronger relationships with influential people you know, and new relationships with the people they know.

Focus on the people who already know, like, and trust you, instead of trying to convince strangers to take a chance.

Why do most attorneys focus elsewhere? Because they hear that it’s important to continually generate more leads, build a bigger social media following, network more, advertise more, speak and write more, so that’s what they do.

If that’s you, you’re working too hard. Stop acting like you’re new. All of the clients you could want, and more, are right in front of you.

If you want a simple marketing plan, get this

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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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Live, from your office. . .

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The other day I recommended not relying solely on live presentations but to record them so they can go to work for you 24/7.

It’s leverage. Do it once, use it over and over again.

But don’t stop doing live presentations.

I don’t just mean “live and in person”. I mean live online. Podcasts, hangouts, chats, webinars, and so on, that are presented in real time. There’s magic in something done live.

When you promote a recorded video, it’s harder to create a sense of urgency. You can say, “This will only be available until. . .” but you then lose the ability to get eyeballs on an ongoing basis. If you leave it up all the time, many people say, “I’ll catch it later,” but we all know that later often never comes.

When you do it live, however, you can promote it as a special event because it is special. You can say, or more likely imply “Never before and never again,” has this been done, creating an even bigger sense of urgency.

When it’s live, you can say, “Join me” or “Ask me anything” and thus provide more value and build a closer relationship with your followers. Or you can promote it by saying you’re presenting some new or timely information that shouldn’t be missed.

One of the biggest draws of a live event is that nobody knows what will happen. What will be said, what will be asked, what information will be shared for the first time? And let’s face it, one reason people watch live events is that they know it could be a train wreck and they want to see that.

One way to make your live events have more train-wreck potential is to have someone else speak with you. If you have a co-presenter, a panel discussion, you interview someone or have someone interview you, the likelihood of something noteworthy or cringeworthy happening is even greater. (You’ll also get the other speakers’ followers to tune in.)

Do some live events and watch your subscriber numbers and engagement soar. Of course, you should also record these events so you can use them again or make them available 24/7. But you might not want to mention that you’re recording it when you promote it for the first time.

Let your website do the heavy lifting: Marketing online for attorneys

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