Building your law practice 90 days at a time

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Art Williams was a high school football coach who became a billionaire building an insurance company from scratch. One of the things he taught his organization was the power of short-term bursts of effort. It can be difficult to maintain enthusiasm and stamina for a year, Williams said, “but you can do anything for 90 days.”

Williams built his business with a series of 90-day sprints. He put in all out effort for 90 days, never stopping or slowing down. At the end of 90 days, he was so confident and excited about what he had accomplished, after a short break, he was ready to do it again.

I’ve gone on many 90-day runs in my law practice and businesses. When you get laser-focused and work hard at something every day, momentum builds, your results compound, and you can accomplish amazing results.

Right now, you may spend 15 or 30 minutes a day on marketing. You can accomplish big things that way, if you do it consistently. But imagine what you could accomplish if, for the next 90 days, you went crazy and worked on marketing two solid hours every day. Total immersion, total focus, total effort.

90 days from now will be the beginning of April. It will be here in no time. You have a choice. You can go about your business the way you usually do usual or you can go on a 90-day run.

Where would you like to be 90 days from today?

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The perfect time management system

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If you ever find yourself driven by the need to get organized, if you continually try new techniques or apps only to abandon them in favor of something else, if you are on a never ending quest to find the perfect time management system, stop.

Just stop.

Many productive, happy people don’t use a system.

The have a calendar. They write down what they need to do for the day. They have files they can turn to when they need something. And. . . that’s about it.

They don’t make elaborate lists with tags and contexts for every task. They don’t use digital reminders. A post it note is more than enough.

They don’t set goals or write detailed plans. They don’t make ‘New Year’s Resolutions’. They know what they want and spend their time taking action.

And their “system” works.

They don’t forget things. They never worry about having too much to do, or stress out about what they haven’t done.

Their system works because they trust their subconscious mind to know what they want and show them what to do to get it.

I know, you’re life is complicated and you want more. You can still use your favorite tools and techniques. Just don’t obsess over them, or spend so much time tweaking them that you don’t have time for anything else.

The new year is upon us. It’s a good time to re-think your system. Get rid of things that aren’t necessary or don’t serve you and simplify everything else.

You might want to start over. Pretend you have no system. One by one, add back things that work.

And ignore the rest.

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Poker, practicing law, and elections

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I caught the tail end of an interview recently. The reporter asked an expert about the election and the expert used an expression that caught my attention: “The best possible outcome vs. the best outcome possible.”

You want to win everything (best possible outcome) but you have to accept the best outcome possible–under the circumstances.

As a lawyer, you want to win every case but you can have a successful career if you win a preponderance of them. You want to sign up the biggest cases or clients but you can earn a great income with smaller ones.

I played a lot of poker in college. I wasn’t as aggressive as I could have been and was rarely the biggest winner for the night. But most nights I walked away with a tidy profit. A fellow player was very aggressive. He bet big and often went “all in”. He won a lot of big pots but lost a lot, too. Most nights, he finished down.

No matter what our path, most of us will agree we need to know “when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em”. You do the best you can and live to fight another day.

Some will say, “that’s not how I want to live my life”. For them, it’s full speed ahead, no matter what.

Sometimes they win. Sometimes they crash and burn. Either way, we hope they have our phone number on speed dial.

How to grow your practice big, fast

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Do more of what’s working

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Franklin Roosevelt said, “Do something. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t, do something else.”

Splendid advice.

Too often, we try to fix what’s not working. Too often, that’s not the best use of our time.

So, ask yourself, What’s working for me right now? What am I doing well?

And do more of it.

Because what’s working well will probably continue to do so. Because the more you do something, the better you get at it, and the better your results.

Look at your calendar and your “done” list. Look at the things you do each day to run your practice and put a star next to things you want to do more of.

Things that make money, improve your skills, and help you grow. Things that help you work more effectively and efficiently. Things that make what you do more gratifying.

Keep a list of these “keepers” in front of you, to remind yourself to do more of them–because what you focus on grows.

Where do you find the time to do more of what’s working? By eliminating or cutting down on things that aren’t.

Do more of what’s working, less of what isn’t.

How to get more referrals from your clients

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Patience

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You didn’t sign up any new clients today. You didn’t settle any cases or close any deals. You didn’t deposit any money.

Bad day? Not necessarily.

Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”

What did you do to connect with clients or prospects today? How much content did you create? What did you do to get your name in front of bloggers, podcasters, editors or publishers?

How many professionals in your niche did you introduce yourself to? How many new contacts did you make on social? How many new subscribers signed up for your newsletter?

How many people did you call or write to? How much time did you spend improving your knowledge or skills? How many words did you write for you book?

Marketing is like farming. You have to sow the seeds, water them, nurture them, and wait for harvest time.

Do the work and give it time.

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Tiny habits — for the win

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I haven’t read BJ Fogg’s best selling book, Tiny Habits, but was intrigued by a quote from it:

“Celebrating a win–no matter how tiny–will quickly lead to more wins”.

Reading the sales page and some reviews told me the premise–that we can effect great change in our lives by making small changes to what we (repeatedly) do–our habits–and when we celebrate our “wins,” it leads to more of the same.

Ostensibly, that’s because it triggers the release of dopamine, causing us to crave more of the same.

We feel good so we repeat the behavior.

Which is, of course, what happens each time we check a task on our list as “done”.

What areas of your life would you like to improve? What are some tiny habits that will help you do that?

If you’re trying to improve your health, tiny habits might include drinking more water, walking 3 days a week, and eating smaller portions of food.

If you’re working on building your practice, your habits might be to write a blog post or newsletter article once a week, check in with 1 professional contact each week, and to smile more when you’re speaking to someone (on camera, etc.)

Okay. You’ve identified some habits you want to develop. How do you celebrate your wins?

A few ideas:

  • Chart them. Every time you do them successfully, note this on your calendar or in an app.
  • Congratulate yourself. Just say, “Well done” or “I did it again”.
  • Write about it in your journal.
  • Share your progress with your spouse or workout partner.

It might help to gamify it. “If I walk around the block 3 times per week for 90 days, I’ll treat myself to a new [toy of your choice].

What tiny habits do you want to develop? And how will you celebrate your wins?

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Is it a good idea?

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You want to try some new marketing ideas. How do you know if you’ve got a good one?

A bad idea tends to feel bad almost right from the start. You’re forcing yourself to do things you don’t want to do, and feel like you’re wasting time and/or spending money you shouldn’t spend.

A good marketing idea, on the other hand, tends to have these characteristics:

  • Offers services with strong market demand, giving people what they want, not necessarily what they need.
  • Has the potential to provide significant growth or profit. If successful, it could triple your revenue over the next year or two, for example.
  • Generates its own momentum. In the beginning, you’re supplying all the energy to get the idea off the ground. Eventually, you see things starting to happen seemingly on their own. People contact you, for example.
  • Is a good fit for you–your skills, experience, niche, network, and your style. It feels right, especially compared to other things you’ve tried.

The trick is to give the idea enough time and space to prove or disprove itself. You don’t want to hang on to a bad idea too long, but you don’t want to give up on a good idea too soon.

Knowing which is which is the hard part if all you do is look at the numbers. You have to learn to trust you gut.

Good ideas often reveal themselves when you’re in the middle of doing other things. So, make sure you try lots of things, and give them enough time to show you what they’ve got.

When you’re ready to take a quantum leap in your marketing, go here

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How to choose your priorities

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Someone once said, “You can be, do, or have anything, just not everything, because there isn’t enough time.”

So, what will it be?

What’s most important to you? What are your highest values? Your biggest goals?

Yes, we’re talking about your priorities.

With so many options available, how do you choose?

The best way to do that is to look at all of your options and compare them to each other.

We don’t make decisions in a vacuum. We look at everything in the context of everything else.

At one point in your life, you could have chosen medical school or law school or some other career path. In making your choice, no doubt you looked at your other options and compared them.

You may have fallen into your practice area or areas, but at some point, you examined your other options and compared them to what you were already doing.

You have followed a similar process with other aspects of your work and personal life.

You didn’t choose your spouse randomly, did you? When you met them, you compared them to other people you had met or dated. You may have loved other people, but the odds are you loved the one you chose even more.

Prioritizing is about making choices. This instead of that, these things more than those things.

Sometimes, your priority is clear. Sometimes, you like a lot of things and have difficulty choosing.

This article suggests a way to make choosing easier. It describes an exercise for groups or teams but there’s no reason you can’t do it yourself.

The basic idea is to examine each option and compare it to another option. You may like both options but decide you prefer one “even over” the other.

For example, you might like getting clients via referrals and via search, but decide you like referred clients “even over” clients who find you via search.

Knowing your priority will inform your marketing decisions–what you do, what you don’t do, how you allocate your time and resources.

Sure, you can use both marketing methods, and others. But knowing your priorities gives your clarity and allows you to focus on doing things that matter most.

Ready to take a quantum leap in your marketing?

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Hate your law practice? Here are 7 ways to fix that

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Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to love what you do to be successful. You just can’t hate it.

If you hate what you do, every day is a burden. Not only does your work suffer, so does every other aspect of your life because our work is a big part of who we are.

If you’ve got the law practice blues, you don’t have to sit and suffer. You do have options:

(1) Increase your income

Yesterday’s post was about this very subject. No, money isn’t everything, but when you have enough of it, things tend to look a lot brighter.

When I started practicing, every month was a struggle to pay rent. I was in survival mode and really didn’t like what I was doing.

Everything changed when I finally started earning a good income and could focus on growth instead of survival.

(2) Reduce your work hours

Once I had money coming in regularly, I started looking for ways to work smarter, not harder. Eventually, I went from working 6 days a week to 3 days a week (about 5 hours per day).

I had a lot more time and energy to focus on marketing and growing my practice, and time for family and fun.

One thing I did was to document every aspect of my work process and create forms and checklists for everything. This allowed me to work more quickly and efficiently.

I also hired more help and delegated as much of the work as possible.

Other options: taking a partner, outsourcing, or associating with a firm.

(3) Change your practice areas

I started with a general practice but couldn’t keep up with everything. The day I decided to specialize and eliminate everything that wasn’t in my wheelhouse, was the day I was liberated.

I enjoyed the work I was doing and referred out everything else. Specializing attracted more clients and allowed me to get “good” in my field.

(4) Change your clients

You may like the work itself but if you don’t like your clients, “fire” them and replace them.

Choose a different target market. Re-define your ideal client. And get some people you enjoy working with. It can make a world of difference.

(5) Change your business model

Practicing law and running a law practice can be overwhelming. If you can’t keep up with everything, consider remodeling your practice.

Join a firm or merge with another firm. Hire more people or hire fewer. Go out on your own or go in-house.

There are other ways to use that sheepskin.

(6) Do something on the side

Start a side business. Invest. Write, paint, play music.

Do something you love and let your practice finance it.

When you find fulfillment after hours, you might see your practice in a more favorable light.

(7) Get out

If you’re still not happy, change your career. Start a business. Get a sales job. Write, consult, teach.

I know, you invested years building your legal career. Being a lawyer is part of your identity.

It may be hard to give that up, but if hate practicing, do yourself a favor and move on.

If you’d like to talk to someone who has done most of the above, hit me up and let’s talk.

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You’ve got to know when to fold ’em

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If you believe that success depends on working harder than everyone else, pushing through every problem, and never giving up, you’ve got a rough road ahead of you.

And I’m not sure that road has the destination you’re looking for.

The existential “do or die” attitude may work for some people some of the time, but as a way of life, “die” is probably the more likely outcome than “do”.

Because the stress can kill you. So can the overhead.

Sure, everyone likes a good fight now and then. We thrive on winning and love the thrill of going “all in”.

But not all day, every day.

When you have a losing case, you need to admit it and cut your losses.

If you’re working “eight to faint,” you need to give yourself a break, to let your body and mind recharge.

If you dread going to work every day, you need to reassess your career options and consider doing something else.

You’re not at war. The fate of nations isn’t at stake. It’s okay to surrender.

Because the game of life is a lot like poker. If you want to win long-term, you’ve got to know when to fold a bad hand.

Are you ready to take a quantum leap in the growth of your practice?

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