“The tools that got you out of Egypt are not the same tools that will get you to the Promised Land.” ~ Dan Sullivan
There is an inherent difference between what it takes to build vs. grow a business. I see people buying into building when they need growing, and people buying into growing when they need building. In the law firm diagnostic calls I do, I see about 1% of entrepreneurs who need growth. I my personal opinion, those percentages should be more balanced, but buyers haven’t identified the status of the business prior to purchasing, so they just buy from everywhere. I can guarantee you when you call LWP, our sole commitment is to determine where attorneys stand, first and foremost, so we can determine what help they need.
When you’re in the infancy stage of your business, you need to build. Here’s what that looks like:
- Time/focus management
- Revenue Focuser
- Goal-setting with SMRs
- Project Focusers
- Team development, training and implementation
- Systems and processes
- Weekly cash flow tracking and reporting
- Lead generation and lead conversion systems
- Lead generation and lead conversion tracking
- Companywide communication skills that are consistent from initial contact to the closing of the file
Choosing just one of the above will not work long-term. Each piece is very much part of the global puzzle. In my experience, purchasing a lead-generation system is not going to be the magic bullet. Great, maybe it got your phone ringing, but if you don’t have a system to convert those leads into paying customers, you’ll be quickly saying, “I bought that marketing guru’s X that she was guaranteeing would do A, B and C. And it didn’t. I didn’t get one person to hire me. It was garbage. She’s a crook.” Well, that statement may not be accurate; the product probably did get your phone to ring. But it wouldn’t matter without a system to process, track, follow up with and measure the lead. Where did the initial contact come from? What did we guide the client to do next? (Clients are calling for your guidance on what to do next; you must always have something to enroll them in that will give them that guidance.)
If you’re like most solopreneurs, you need to get money in the door before you can even think of purchasing a system for your client services coordinator, or putting in a time management system. “I’ll look into that after I have cash flow,” you think. So you may purchase a killer “Generate $10,000 a day in 3 easy steps” system. You generate your first $10K, but you pulled a few later nights, not realizing that the extra work is actually the “system” that it’s going to take to make the $10K a day. Sure, this one piece of the puzzle that you purchased did produce what it promised, but at what cost? If you calculate your hourly rate, your team’s hourly rate and the possibility of shutting down other areas of your business to get this done, you would probably be horrified. (For the fun of it, email me if you would like our “what are you worth” exercise. Send me your completed exercise and I’ll lead a 30-minute analysis call to review your results. Consider it a gift.)
By now, you’re getting the picture. I have attorneys calling me daily saying, “I don’t need all that; I am just getting started and need to build my business first. I just need X.” Sadly, they come back a few months later (hopefully) or years later (more accurate) in a worse spot, with frustrated stories of how they bought this, did this program and “none of them produced what was promised.” This most often is not the complete picture.
What was missing for them was that they didn’t invest the time to lay out the big picture of what it takes to build a business. It is never one precise tool; it is very much an all-encompassing “and.” The “and” is a process that hits all areas of determining your monthly revenue goal and what it’s going to take to get there (how many appointments, what appointments are paying), time management (which days are money days, which are production days, which are project days), lead generation, relationship management, system, a team-centric approach to reach goal, etc. You get the point. In my experience, when your business is in the personal services industry, it is next to impossible to build a business without a widespread approach.
Building a business means implementing some or all of the items listed above. The pieces are up and running, on a consistent basis. There are not peaks and pits in your leads, referrals or paying clients. You’ve removed the revolving door at the entrance to your office for employees. Your business is systematized, with all areas automated and integrated. It is 80% team-led, freeing up the entrepreneur to spend 80% of their time in front of people (synergy referral meetings, existing and prospective client meetings and leveraged speaking events).
Once you’ve built your business, then you start to address the following growth components.
- Actuary referral and client statistics to create target marketing
- Elevation offerings for your existing clients
- Professional and client advisory boards
- Client and referral appreciation programs
- Team empowerment and leadership programs
- A three-pronged marketing approach to double your revenue, year after year (and it’s only dependent on you as the business owner)
- Tri-annual practice enhancement retreats facilitated by professionals
- An annual maintenance program that allows you to be your own bank
- An internal lead system that relieves the business owner from operations, team training and law firm management
- Operating all areas of your business from an automated knowledge, workflow and CRM program that allows your business to be dependent on reporting and tracking instead of human familiarity
- A system for creating an exit strategy for a saleable practice (when you’re ready)
When you’re striving to generate monthly revenue – and that includes keeping the lights on and paying yourself each month, not taking what may be left over – you shouldn’t be in the market for a robust CRM program that will hand you leads that you can’t even follow up with. You need a building a business plan. You need such a plan when you’re striving to remove yourself from day-to-day operations because you have complete confidence that your business is systematized and generating consistent everything. You need it when you’re ready to move on to your next chapter of making certain the profit margin grows each year, but it’s not solely dependent on you to get the work done.
That is what I am most proud of with LWP: our members. So many of them had the presence to see the difference between the two; they had the patience to get through the building phase and the shrewdness to consciously move into the CONTROLLED growth phase (our motto is, do not blow everything up for the sake of growth). I am honored to be on this journey with them.
Molly L. Hall, Co-Founder, Lawyers with Purpose, LLC, and author of Don’t Be a Yes Chick: How to Stop Babysitting Your Boss, Transform Your Job and Work with a Dream Team Without Losing Your Sanity or Your Spirit in the Process.