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It’s time for you to get what you want. It’s time for you to build the law practice of your dreams.
Each of us has a different dream. You can have your dream–it’s a matter of deciding to go get it. That dream is out there waiting for you; now you just have to make the decisions that will bring it to life.
The law practice of your dreams is a realistic option. Look around and you’ll see that some already have it. It’s your turn, if you’ll step up and take it. There’s room for more than one law firm just like the one you want to build. There’s no reason it can’t happen fast–if you take action, set the right pace, and contribute a sufficient amount of energy.
Fast growth requires focused attention on setting a quick pace. Moving quickly from zero to $1,000,000 in revenues determines the rate of future growth. The early activity governs what happens in later stages. It’s critical to set the stage properly, because the first months determine the culture.
Here’s how you grow a wildly successful law practice fast. Do it with these seven steps:
1. Narrow your niche
There are two big problems with doing too many things in your business.
First–you aren’t as good as the lawyers who focus on one thing. They learn faster than you do, they can iterate more quickly, and they build systems around what they’ve learned.
Our point today is to do things “fast.” Doing one thing is almost always faster than doing two (or more) things.
Second–your marketing message sinks in more quickly when you’re communicating one thing instead of two. “We groom dogs” sinks in faster than “We groom dogs and monkeys,” right? Sure, you can tell the world you “groom animals” but the more specific, the better. People can see a monkey or a dog in their mind’s eye. An “animal” requires more imagination.
Keep it simple by narrowing your niche. That single move will accelerate your growth dramatically.
2. Create the vision and don’t change it
We talk endlessly about the need for a vision here. Why? Because it’s the most important thing you can do to build a profitable business.
Most law firms are driving down the road without a destination. The only way to fix that problem is to know where you’re going. The only way that happens is for you to decide where you’re going.
Vision is incredibly simple. See the destination before you leave home.
Why haven’t you done that? Usually, because you’re torn between destinations and can’t pick one. Decide now, or you’ll keep going on your drive to nowhere.
3. Sell like your life depends on it
Quick growth comes from sales. Selling is about generating attention, identifying prospects, and closing the deal.
How do you do that quickly? You make noise via numerous channels–networking, speaking, writing, advertising, social media, and more. You surface the folks who need your help as they pay attention to your efforts. Then you relentlessly pursue them until they pay you to do some work.
I’ve talked to lawyers who won’t sell because they don’t want to appear “desperate.” Fast growth requires desperation. Get desperate: to the point that you hunt people down like you’re lost in a desert and they’re a glass of water.
A wildly successful law practice requires revenues to keep growing. Revenues come from selling. You’ve got to persuade people to buy what you’re selling. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Get desperate. Stop being a delicate flower, call people, and sell some services.
4. Experiment faster
There’s a tendency to make a move, wait to see how it turns out, then do more of it, or if it fails, make a different move. That’s the slow-motion path to success.
A faster–much faster–approach is to experiment in multiple ways with all of your experiments running in parallel.
For example: build your referral network while you simultaneously advertise on Google and the radio, amp up your social media, make videos for YouTube, and write amazing blog posts.
Experiment faster so you can figure out what works, and then double down on the positive results. Getting where you’re going quickly requires trying more than one thing at a time and then dramatically expanding your efforts when something works.
5. Ignore advice from lawyers
Many lawyers are risk-averse, fearful beings who believe that distinguishing themselves in the marketplace brings negative attention from their peers. They value being respected by the legal community more than being highly regarded by their clients.
It’s the clients who determine your success. Happy clients send more clients. Happy clients even drive referrals from other lawyers. Lawyers don’t want to refer business to another lawyer if the client isn’t going to be satisfied.
Most lawyer advice is designed, even if unintentionally, to promote conformity to the norms of the profession. Growing a law firm quickly is not normal. Don’t expect your peers to celebrate fast growth when they’re on the slow track.
If you’re looking for fast growth then you’re going to have to disregard the advice of most of your peers.
6. Hire late
Slow-moving firms tend to hire early. Sometimes that’s because employees feel overwhelmed and the lawyer wants to make work comfortable. Sometimes it’s because the lawyer’s ego feeds off having a bigger team.
Revenue per employee is an important measure of a law firm and how fast it’s going to grow. Some firms hire a person for every $200,000 in revenue. Those firms have a slow growth culture and enjoy their workdays. Fast-growing firms tend to hire at levels well above that amount and end up with just a couple of team members when they hit $1,000,000.
Hiring more slowly means employees are busy–nearing the redline–stressed, overwhelmed, and at the breaking point. That’s what you need to have happen if you want to move fast. Quality of life comes later. Work-life balance is not part of the plan at this stage of the game.
A growth-oriented culture gets set early, it drives more growth, and the momentum is baked into the business.
7. Sleep after $1 million
Making things happen in a hurry requires disciplined focus. It means preparing a list of tasks the night before and then checking them all off the next morning. It means juggling the marketing while you’re cranking out the work for paying clients. It’s having a dozen balls in the air and accepting that something may crash to the ground, but making a focused effort to keep that from happening.
That disciplined focus determines the culture of the law firm. Culture, once set, is hard to change. The fast-moving approach creates a culture of people who expect to move quickly, adjust to change, pursue revenues, drive hard, and get where they’re going in a hurry. Once you set the pace, the team tends to keep the momentum going and the growth from the first million upwards happens even faster.
Fast growth is exhausting. But it can be accomplished quickly, so you’ll have time to recover later. Once you get the law firm rolling you’ll have the resources to solve the problems that have accumulated during the quick effort to ramp up the revenues. You’ll have the money to hire the people you need to build systems, buy solutions to problems, and patch over the rough spots.
If you want it fast, move quickly
Not every lawyer dreams of building a wildly successful practice in a hurry. There are both risks and benefits to a quick approach. It’s exhausting, it requires putting other priorities on hold, and it means you’re going to continue to work in a place dominated by change, aggressive growth, and people who aren’t satisfied with the status quo. But it’s also exhilarating.
Some prefer a different kind of business that meets the needs of the owners in different ways. Slow growth works for lots of lawyers and meets their needs. There are no right answers. There are many ways to build a business.
If, however, fast is your preferred approach, then you now have a roadmap to follow. The law firm of your dreams doesn’t have to take long to build. Move fast and you’ll be where you’re going in the blink of an eye.