Working hard or hardly working?

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Many lawyers complain (brag) about having too much work to do. Other lawyers don’t have enough work (clients, cases, billable hours) and want more.

How about you?

Are you earning as much as you want? Working as much as you want? Are you working too hard or are you ready for more?

Hold on. It’s not as simple as getting more clients or working fewer hours. There’s another option.

You could bring in “better” clients and “bigger” cases.

Instead of clients who pay $5,000 or $10,000, what if you brought in clients who pay $25,000 or $50,000?

Instead billing $300 per hour, what if you could get clients who pay $800 per hour?

Instead of handling tort cases with $20,000 contingency fees, what if you could attract the ones with six- and seven-figure potential?

They’re out there. Someone is getting these cases and clients. Why not you?

I’ll tell you why not. Perhaps, deep down, you don’t want them. You know you’d have to do too much to get them, and if you did get them, you’d have to do more work or take on more overhead or deal with more pressure than you want.

And that’s fair.

For most of my career, I handled small to medium cases and clients, for those very reasons. And made a good living doing it.

So, if that’s what appeals to you, I’m on your side.

Right now, we’re hearing a lot about a four-hour work-week. Some companies who’ve tried it are reporting more productive and happier employees and no loss of revenue. Some companies say they’re earning more.

In my practice, I cut my work-week down to three days and saw my income soar.

Anything’s possible.

You can earn more and work less. You can build the practice and lifestyle you want.

Some advice:

This year, instead of waiting to see what happens, decide what you want to happen and find ways to make it so.

This can help

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When the typo hits the fan

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I heard from an attorney who liked my new Kindle book but. . . found a typo. A big, hairy one I can’t believe I missed because it was in the introduction. In fact, it’s the word “introduction” which was missing the letter “r”.

Did you catch it? Neither did I.

Neither did my writing software. Or my editing/spell-check software. Or Amazon’s upload mechanism which gave me the “all clear” on spelling when I uploaded it.

I’ll take the blame but that software has some ‘splainin’ to do.

Anyway, Christine, the attorney who caught it, pointed out that the error could cost sales and she’s right. People judge you on things like this. So, as soon as I heard from her, I fixed it. It took a couple of minutes and the updated book was available within a few hours.

Which is one of the nice things about publishing ebooks. A few clicks and you can fix or update your book or the sales page and get back to work.

So, if you want to write a book but are concerned that it might not be your best work (or might have typos), go ahead and do it anyway.

But you might want to send a copy to Christine because she’s got a great eye for typos.

NB: “How to Sell Your Legal Services in 15 Seconds or Less” will be coming off the free promotion tomorrow so if you’d like a copy, grab it now.

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Krispy Kreme’s missed opportunity

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You run Krispy Kreme and you hear there’s a college student in Minnesota who drives four hours every Saturday to buy up to 100 boxes of your doughnuts and resell them to his fellow students.

What do you do?

Do you applaud him, interview him, write about him, maybe offer him a job?

Do you look into opening stores in the town where this guy goes to school?

Do you encourage your franchisees to offer a delivery option to people who don’t have time to get to a store?

Think, man, how would you leverage this to get some great publicity and increase your sales?

Maybe you saw the same news story I saw. The one with the headline, “Krispy Kreme orders Minnesota student who bought, resold doughnuts to ‘shut down operations'”

Yeah, that’s what they did.

This kid reminds me of myself in elementary school. I bought candy and gum at the 7-11 and re-sold it to the other kids. I had a nice little business going. So I felt for this guy.

He wasn’t doing anything wrong. But, someone at corporate thought what he was doing might be a liability for the company, so, right or wrong, they told him to stop.

But that’s not the whole story. The best part of this story is what happened next.

He didn’t call a lawyer. He didn’t complain to the government about restraint of trade. He didn’t hold a protest march and cry victim.

No. He shut down his business.

I don’t know if he felt he couldn’t fight the company or that it just wasn’t worth it but, just like that, he was out of business.

But not for long.

His posted this on social media:

“Life happens, and it could be a sign that something else is meant to be. Appreciate everyone’s love and support to make this happen, couldn’t have done it without you all.”

And then he encouraged everyone to stay tuned because he might “have another entrepreneurial adventure you will be interested in”.

I love this young man’s attitude. And I can’t wait to see what’s he does next.

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What would you do with an extra hour a day?

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If you had an extra hour a day available what would you do with it?

More client work?

More marketing and practice building activities?

More time off?

Would you start a new business project? Work on your hobby? Get in shape? Write a book?

It would be nice, wouldn’t it? It could be life-changing.

But it’s not going to happen. You’re never going to find an hour a day in your busy schedule.

Unless you decide to.

If you do, here are some questions to ask yourself that could help you free up that time:

  • Look at your calendar and task list. What do you regularly do that you could safely stop doing or cut back on? Yesterday, I talked about eliminating unnecessary expenses. Why can’t you do the same thing with your time?
  • What project are you working on you could indefinitely defer?
  • What could you outsource or delegate? (Give this a lot of thought; it could free up days, not hours.)
  • What could you do more quickly by improving your skills, acquiring tools or tech, or streamlining your work-flow or systems?
  • What content, marketing collateral, or work product could you re-purpose or re-use (so you don’t have to spend time creating more)?
  • What marketing activities (networking, presentations, podcasting, videos) could you eliminate, shorten, or replace with something simpler and less time-consuming?
  • Do you have any services or practice areas that take up a disproportionate amount of your time and focus (and could be eliminated)?
  • What meetings could you eliminate or shorten? What boards or committees could you step down from?
  • Could you shorten the commute to your office? Could you work from home or a second office a couple of days a week?

It’s important to ask yourself these questions because you might like the answers.

And because one hour a day is 250 hours per year.

Extra.

What would you do with that time?

If you want some help finding an extra hour per day, let me know.

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Lawyers are big babies

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Lawyers are cautious creatures, as they should be, but their cautious nature often prevents them from reaching their potential.

We see it all the time.

We see lawyers emulate their competition because it seems like the smart and safe approach, but you can’t stand out from the crowd when you are a part of it.

We see lawyers majoring in minor things, making incremental improvements in what they already do instead of trying big ideas that might help them achieve next-level growth.

We see lawyers settle for low hanging fruit, targeting average clients and charging average fees, instead of reaching for the sweetest fruit that’s a little bit out of reach.

We see lawyers stifling their productivity by riding the wave of perfectionism, not realizing that done is better than perfect.

We see lawyers working hard and staying busy, because that’s what’s expected of them, instead of looking for ways to achieve exceptional results with less effort.

It’s fear. Fear of failure, fear of being different, even fear of success.

Are you guilty of any of this?

You can’t change overnight but you can change. You can adopt a new mindset, one that values being different and the lessons taught by failure.

A mindset that says success doesn’t depend on the elimination of all risk but on the intelligent management of it.

A mindset that focuses on what you want instead of what you think you’re supposed to do.

Fear can be tamed. Optimism can be learned. Success is available to all.

Even lawyers.

If you’re ready to get to the next level, this is how you get there

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Calculation fatigue

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That’s the title of an article in this month’s Chess Life magazine. The sub-title is, “The dangers of delving too deeply into one particular variation”.

The article is an examination of a botched game by a strong player, a game that might have been awarded a brilliancy prize but for the player’s errors occasioned by following one idea too far and losing the central theme of the game.

What does this have to do with practicing law? Everything.

Because lawyers (and other very smart people) often do what this Grandmaster did. They focus too much on the details, the minutia of a case or an issue, and sometimes lose a won game.

I’ve done it. I’m sure you can think of times when you’ve done it, getting lost in researching an issue to the nth degree, perhaps, making a big deal about a small point.

You see it during oral argument when the judge or jurors eyes glaze over and you know they’re didn’t follow your last point, or no longer care.

You see it in marketing. You get bogged down in choosing better keywords or creating better funnels, months go by and thousands of dollars have been spent and you find you could have gotten better results with something simpler.

You see it in a lot of websites. A would-be client visits, hoping to learn something about his problem and what you can do to help him and is confronted by a library of information. There’s too much to read, he doesn’t know where to start, so he leaves.

(NB: keep the library but hide it and link to it for those who want more information.)

We see it in presentations where we try to make too many points and leave no stone unturned and we simply confuse the audience (and a confused mind says no).

What should we do? We should periodically stand down from business as usual, put aside all the small stuff and focus on the big picture.

The strategy, not the technique. The main argument, not the “Hail Mary” we throw in just in case.

You started practicing with a few simple ideas and you did okay. If you’ve found yourself getting off track lately, a return to fundamentals might be just what you need to reset and revitalize your practice.

It might even earn you the brilliancy prize.

The Attorney Marketing Formula can help you get back on track

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Lead, follow or hold my beer

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Most attorneys copy what their competitors are doing to get more clients or otherwise build their practice. The problem is, most of those attorneys are also doing this.

Most play “follow the follower” instead of “follow the leader”. But following the leader isn’t necessarily the way to go, either.

When you copy anyone, you risk copying something that doesn’t work. You don’t know if what you’re copying is generating results or the results (you think) they’re getting are from other factors.

They might have skills or resources that allow them to get results you won’t get.

Their “successful” ad, for example, might be successful because they have a better system for closing leads. Or, they might break even or lose money on every ad but profit on up-sells, back-end business, repeat business, and referrals.

The other problem with copying others, even if you copy things that work, is that you are merely a copycat. You fade into the background, just another lawyer with nothing special to offer.

So, what’s the answer?

Don’t ignore your competition. You might get ideas from them. But don’t copy them. In fact, a good rule of thumb is to look at what the majority do and do the opposite.

Then, decide that you will be the leader others want to copy. Go your own way, even though it means doing things that might frighten you.

In fact, if it doesn’t frighten you, if it doesn’t take you out of your comfort zone, you’re probably playing safe, which is not what leaders do.

You don’t have to throw yourself into an abyss or run naked in the streets. You don’t have to risk everything.

Follow the path of least resistance. Find something small and easy to do and start there. From that perspective, you’ll be a different person, ready to take the next step.

Ready to take a quantum leap in your practice? Here’s the first step

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Two ways to grow your business practice

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You want to grow your firm–bring on some major clients who provide status and billings and open doors to other clients of a similar ilk.

You don’t have family or business connections that can deliver those types of clients (or you would already have them). What can you do?

The usual strategy is to find ways to network with people who own, manage, or advise the kinds of clients you want to acquire. Promote their business or cause, introduce them to people who can help them, or otherwise add value to the relationship.

One of their existing attorneys may retire, screw up, or have a conflict, and you may get the nod.

Or, one of your new friends will introduce you to some of their contacts–smaller companies in their niche who need legal help, or people who know them.

You might offer these smaller clients a sweet deal because one of these companies may take off and you can grow with them. Plus, you’ll have your foot in the industry door.

Just being able to say you represent a certain company or you are on a board with some of the players in the industry may elevate your status enough to allow you to attract bigger clients.

All of this will be easier if you focus on a niche market. You’ll have an edge over other firms because of your specialized knowledge and connections. You’ll know the issues, the people, the trends, and you can provide more value to people in that niche.

So, that’s the usual way to do it. Hard work, provide value, bide your time.

But there is another way.

You can hire (or merge with) attorneys (or firms) that already have the types of clients you want.

Offer them a good deal because they can bring you more clients like their existing book of business.

This can help you choose your niche

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I only do what pleases me

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I saw this question posted online: “How do you stop procrastinating when you have an upcoming deadline?”

I expected the respondent to say the deadline forced her to get the work done because she had to. Something practical. But no. She said, “I get around that by never accepting projects I don’t want to do. In fact, I pretty much stick to projects that excite me.”

I want what she has.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could only do work we like and not have to do anything else?

It reminds me of an episode of the old Dick Van Dyke program. Rob and Laura called a house painter to take a look at a problem they were having with a wall in the living room. When the painter arrives, Laura greets him and asks, “How do you do?” The painter, played by Vito Scotti, responds, “Always I do well because I only do what pleases me.”

As unusual as that might sound today, it was even more so when the show played, which is probably why I remember it.

Can you structure your life so you “only do what pleases you?” Maybe not. But you can work towards that.

And you should.

Start avoiding projects, cases, clients, employees, commitments, etc., you don’t like or don’t want to do.

The more you do that, the more you’ll get done and the happier you’ll be in your work. If procrastination has been an issue for you, you’ll probably find you don’t do that anymore.

As you eliminate things that don’t excite you, you make room in your life for things that do.

You could start small, by eliminating minor irritations in your life such as people who drain your energy or routine tasks that bore you. Eventually, consider big things: practice areas, niche markets, types of clients, and partners.

Or, start big. I did that, years ago, when I stopped taking cases and clients outside the practice area I decided to specialize in. Best decision I ever made.

Today, I can’t say I only do what pleases me. But I don’t do much that doesn’t.

Ready to get big, fast? Here’s what you need

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Better than average

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Marketing goo-roo Dan Kennedy once said, “Your success in business is directly proportional to the number of industry norms you defy.”

In other words, if you do what everyone else is doing, you will be unlikely to achieve more than average results.

What can you do if you want to do better than average?

!. You can offer better services than the competition.

If you deliver better results, more benefits or value, or a higher level of “customer service,” you will probably get more clients, higher quality clients, and/or be able to charge higher fees than average.

You should also get more repeat business and referrals.

2. You can use better marketing.

If you do a better job of getting leads, packaging and selling your services, and building relationships with your clients and other professionals, you will get more clients and earn more income than average.

That’s because more prospective clients (and the people who can refer them) will hear your message and/or be persuaded by it.

Both options are good. Either one can help you become more successful.

But why not do both?

If you want to learn a step-by-step system for marketing and building your practice with email. . .

Go here

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