How to get more business clients


An article in Entrepreneur, “Hiring a Lawyer: Five Mistakes to Avoid,” tells startups what to do to save money and avoid getting hurt when hiring a lawyer. If you want to get more business clients, you might want to know what kind of advice they are listening to.

Here are the “five mistakes,” followed by my thoughts on how you can use this information:

1. Hiring a lawyer too soon.

Summary: Some startups hire a lawyer before they know what they want and need. See if there is a pro bono legal clinic at a law school where you can learn about the issues and process. Consider “hiring” them to do some basic work.

DW: What can you do? How about offering free information that does the same thing? Educate your target market about the issues, process, risks, and options. How about holding your own “clinic” where startups and young companies can come and learn (and network) and maybe even get some basic work done free?

You might get endorsed by a business school or community organization, perhaps the chamber of commerce, and get some publicity for your good work in helping the community.

2. Hiring the wrong lawyer.

Summary: Avoid hiring someone who does not specialize in what you need. Get referrals and interview several attorneys before you choose.

DW: Clients prefer specialists (and articles recommend them). Specialists earn more, too. So if you don’t specialize, maybe you should. If you do specialize, start promoting the fact that you do and educate your market about why this is important to them.

3. Hiring a big firm when you don’t need to.

Summary: You will pay more and you may not need to. Many smaller firms have great lawyers, some of whom came from big firms.

DW: Educate your market about the advantages of hiring a smaller firm. Not just lower fees. Smaller firms usually give more personalized attention. Make sure clients know why this is a benefit to them.

4. Not haggling on fees.

Summary: Negotiate fees. Offer equity in partial payment.

DW: Never negotiate fees. You can be flexible about retainers, payment options, and offer alternatives to hourly billing, but never negotiate (reduce) your fees. If you do offer alternative fees, promote the heck out of it. Clients like them.

Take equity if you want to. You could hit a winner. But since most startups fail, don’t go “all in”.

5. Seeing a lawyer as just a lawyer.

Summary: If offering equity, you’re taking on a business partner. Make sure your lawyers have expertise in your field and can do other things for you, e.g., lead you to investors.

DW: Every business lawyer has a stake in it’s client’s business, even if they don’t own any stock. As the client grows, they have more legal work. There are more opportunities for referrals from partner companies, vendors and suppliers. You can grow with them, so help them grow.

Use your contacts and knowledge to help your clients get investors, better financing, new customers, and better suppliers. Look for opportunities for them. Make introductions. Send articles about their industry, marketing, and management. And make sure your prospective clients know that you provide this kind of help.

If you don’t have these connections and knowledge, start developing them. Because the world doesn’t need more lawyers who merely deliver competent legal work. It doesn’t need more lawyers who merely “protect and advise”. It needs more lawyers who can help their clients prosper.

Marketing is not difficult, when you know The Formula.