The secret to my success

Want to know the secret to my success? The secret is simple. I do a few things well.

That’s it. A few things. The “precious few” in 80/20 parlance, that deliver the majority of my results.

I run three businesses. In each business, there are only a few things I focus on to keep the wheels turning. Well, actually, one business is nearly 100% passive income and requires almost none of my time anymore. The other two businesses are flexible enough that I can work at them when (and if) I choose. So for me, at this stage of my life, my precious few are “writing, learning, and marketing.”

How about you?

If you run a law practice, your precious few probably include, “marketing, management, personal development, and work product”. Am I right?

[Sidebar: Don’t be one of those lawyers who foolishly boasts that they don’t do any marketing. Everything you do is marketing.

Every time you speak to a client you’re showing them why they should remain your client and refer their friends. Every time you give someone your card or mention your website you’re inviting them to learn more about you do. Every time you talk to a prospective client or fellow professional you’re showing them why they should do business with you. It’s all marketing. All of it.

Okay, back on the record.]

Let’s start with “areas of focus”. You run a law practice, you have a personal life. That’s two. You might also do charitable work, be active in your church, or have a hobby or outside interest that’s important to you.

What are your precious few areas of focus?

Next, for each area of focus, think about the precious few things you focus on (or need to).

For your practice, what are the precious few things you do for marketing?

You may focus on a few types of clients, niche markets, or practice areas. Your strategies might include client referrals, professional referrals, and driving traffic to your website. If you advertise, your precious few might include a group of niche publications, keywords, or offers that deliver the majority of your results. You might create content, build a social media following, or speak or network in the “real world”.

What are they? What are precious few in your marketing?

For work product, you might derive most of your income from a certain type of case or client or a certain type of work. What are your precious few?

For management, you might focus on new client intake procedures (although that’s also marketing), billing, and document management. You might focus on hiring the best people, training, or building culture. What are your precious few?

For personal development, you might work on building a new habit, improving a particular skill, or acquiring a certain type of knowledge. What do you focus on? What are your precious few?

In the end, success comes from doing a few simple things. It can’t be any other way. You can’t do 100 things and expect to do them all well. You can’t focus on 100 things you can only focus on a few.

I built my practice with referrals. It was one of my precious few.

The three things that matter most

What are the three most important things you do in your career? Sure, you do a lot of things, but chances are, three of them are more important than the rest. We’ve talked about the 80/20 Principle before. These three things are the twenty-percent activities that deliver eighty percent of your results. They are worth identifying. If you can identity them, you can do more of them (and less of those things that aren’t of the three).

What’s more, if there are only three things, you can remember them. You don’t need a list. “These are the three areas I focus on,” you’ll say. “This is where I focus eighty percent of my time.” So what are they? If you could only do three things all day long, what would they be? Don’t think too much about this; you already know the answer.

When I was practicing (personal injury), I would have said that these are my three things:

  1. Marketing
  2. Settling Cases
  3. Managing staff

For me, litigation was not one of the three things that matter(ed) most. We did it, but the practice was a high-volume of smaller cases and litigation was not our primary focus. So, it was these three things that mattered most to my practice. If I was doing one of these three things, I was doing “twenty-percent activity”. Anything else was “eighty-percent activity” (which brings in only twenty percent of the results).

Let’s take things a step further, shall we? Once you have identified your “three things that matter most,” what about identifying the three things that matter most about each of those three things? This allows you to get more specific about how you are spending your time and how you are focusing your energy. You will perform “on purpose” instead of reacting to whatever presents itself. And, if you can recall the three things that matter most, you should also be able to recall the three things about each of those things, too. If they are truly important and you are doing them, they will be second nature to you.

In my case, I would have identified the three things about my three things, like this:

MARKETING

  • Ads in yellow pages
  • Network with referral sources
  • Client referral strategies

SETTLE CASES

  • Client interviews/evidence collection
  • Demand package
  • Negotiation

MANAGE STAFF

  • Interview/hire
  • Monitor work flow
  • Recognize and incentivize

What are your three things? And what are the three things about each of those three? Take the time to identity these crucial items and then focus eighty percent of your time and attention on them. You’ll get more done in less time and you’ll get more results. You’ll earn more and work less.