Showing posts with label Turning Pro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Turning Pro. Show all posts

Friday, December 6, 2013

All About Action, But No Results?

Wait- it's not that same tired image of the goldfish jumping from a crowded bowl into its own unique bowl, escaping the school of common little follower fish to achieve a higher level of self-actualization...

What is going to happen to the fish, people? 
Yes. There is no rescue out of frame. The fish is a goner. 

The point? A spectacular burst of energy doesn't guarantee a good result.

Your takeaway? Think about the past year. Were there any times when you had a big burst of energy and action, but no payoff? What can you learn? Was it follow-through that failed? Was it a lack of planning or unclear goals? Maybe there was a rescue you were expecting, just out of frame? 

Sometimes the payoff is all about what you learn. December is a month of reflection. Take an honest look at where you invested in 2013 and what the return was- take an outsider's view. No judgement, no "if only". 

The good thing is that, unlike the goldfish in the image, you can use what you learn to ensure a better outcome next time. Learning forward, a key survival skill.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Want to know how to handle failure? Lessons from a pro.

Heading to the end of the year, some might be afraid to analyze their results. What if you've not achieved what you set out to do? What if you are....a FAILURE?

Well, if you let it be, it is very very simple. As always- deal with the facts, learn from them and move forward. Here's something from a blog post that Hanna's soccer coach shared with her team.
As U.S. Soccer’s Technical Director and U-18 national team coach, I’m always watching and evaluating players to assess their threshold to endure failure. 
I’m looking for which players fail and yet keep going; for which players fail and can laugh at themselves; for which players fail, go away, work on it and come back better. 
If I see a player who lacks the ability to embrace fits of failure, I worry about her long-term potential in the U.S. women’s national team program....
We fail all the darn time -- we have to in order to improve. Now that I think of it, and after more than 25 years in our program, embracing failure on a daily basis is one of our secret ingredients!   - April Heinrich

In the same article, Heinrich says:
It really is that simple: You need the desire to improve, the time spent learning/growing/failing/improving, combined with feedback from a coach, and then the repetitions and perseverance toward steps of success.  
Whether it's soccer or learning how to create a business that serves you well, the "steps to success are the same."

If you aren't happy with your performance, take a look at the prescription Heinrich's shared. Are there any ingredients you're missing?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Is that prospect flying a red flag? 15 warning signs.

Lots of people have been complaining about having to deal with clients that they wish they hadn't taken. There's nothing worse than a bad client. If you've been in practice for a while, you know what I'm talking about, so let's get right to prevention.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Practice Target - a 6 month Transformation Program

If you found this, you know me, or someone you trust does. This is truly shameless promotion. Shameless because it's a great program! Heads up.

Well, I finally invested quite a bit in copywriters and designers for my baby, The Practice Target, and I have had the worst luck with getting a new site launched and a sales page up. If something could get in the way, it did. Which is why I'm going to give you information here. On my in-transition to G+ blog. 

I have a six month group program called The Practice Target, starting in October- so it's time for imperfect marketing action on my part. Here's the scoop, it's a LONG description, so you have the chance to really "get" what the program is about- in short, the next step is to schedule a conversation if you're interested.

Bad news? Not a lot of prep time or time to choose. And that's the good news too. Think about that.

Here’s How I Can Help You Grow

I've designed a 6-month program called The Practice Target. I’ll personally guide you through a transformation of your business. By the end of the course, you will have gone through a series of significant changes to your business.

The key point I’d like you to remember is that I’m there with you during the entire process. Each step is part of a gradual process that will result in an entirely new legal practice.

I’d like you to think of my course as a menu. I’ll offer you proven solutions and you’ll begin selecting the changes you believe are most important to your business. Remember, you are in charge. Over time, you’ll probably want to add more and more of the elements into the mix.

Very simply: each change you make will have an effect on your practice. When you implement more than one of these elements, your practice will begin to transform.

I’m not saying this to hype my program. I’m saying this because it’s the experience of the lawyers who have worked with me already.

Here’s Your Practice Target Roadmap

Month One: Time Management

It’s the number one frustration most lawyers face. Where does the time go? Most lawyers do not effectively manage their time. And what we’re really talking about is self management, not time management. Let me be perfectly clear. This has nothing to do with making lists or using alarms, buzzers or bells to keep you on task.

This is about your choice to manage your time and it sets the pace for all the work we will do together. There can only be one person managing your practice. And that person is you. This is the key principle which distinguishes between a well-run practice and one that runs in “last minute” or “crisis mode.”

We start our work together by putting you in charge of your time rather than the circumstances of the day.

Month Two: Setting Goals For Your Practice

In order to know whether a room is hot or cold, you need a thermometer. If it’s cold, you raise the thermostat. If it’s hot, you lower the thermostat. It’s that simple.

Before we work together on growing your practice, we need to take its temperature. Together we will determine which way to turn the dial.

Most lawyers I work with need to turn the dial up – some by a great deal. This is not a reflection on your skills, talents or compassion as a lawyer. It’s just that you didn’t take any courses on growing or managing your practice. You were just thrown in and what you've achieved is because of your determination.

Now it’s time to grow and set specific goals for your practice.

Month Three: Getting Clients – A Step By Step Plan

This month is about creating a marketing plan that works for you. In this section, we’re going to decide who is the best client for you to work with. (Hint: it’s not anyone with a pulse who walks in the door -even if they’re carrying cash.)

We’re going to decide whom we want to reach and how we want to get through to them. In addition, we will decide what we want to say to them when we have their attention.

It’s the non-sleazy marketing plan built to last. You will never be stuck sitting in their office wondering what to do first or next to get clients after this month.

Month Four: Your Marketing In Action

This is the month that will forever change your mind about the potential of your practice. This is where the rubber meets the road.

This is about making breakthroughs in your practice and discovering what is possible. Here we move from theory into day-to-day, boots on the ground. You’ll be transforming your practice and recreating it in your target image. Just like no two fingerprints are exactly alike – no two legal offices will do things exactly the same way.

You’ll be in at the bottom floor seeing the effect of the marketing program YOU chose. You’ll be astounded as you discover that getting more of the clients you want to work with is easier than you thought. There's no doubt that legal marketing can have a long cycle time, but by now, you will see a difference. You will know what to do to build your practice.

Month Five: Building Systems For Your Practice: Your Key To Having Clients and A Life At the Same Time

The way to run an efficient office is to have systems installed. This way, when something happens, your office experiences the equivalent of a speed bump, rather than a crash.

If you use systems to run your office, it’s a much more professional office.

Let me give you an example. You've planned this summer vacation with your family for a year. Your kids have been looking forward to it since you told them. You’re packed and ready to go when suddenly, disaster strikes.

A member of your team becomes ill or wins the lottery and quits. Someone else is going to have to cover that work.

And your kids send you pictures of their vacation via text message. Unless…

You have the right systems in place to make sure a new staff member can step into the job and be up to speed in rapid time. No, this isn’t Disneyland. Law offices like yours can be systematized so they run more efficiently. When I talk about systems, I'm talking about establishing processes, templates, checklists, standards and the like. I don't recommend specific technology brands, but we will discuss technology to support your work and workflow.

When your office is purring on all cylinders, you’ll never be torn about whether or not you can spend time with your family.

When your office runs without you dealing with every detail, you can be more engaged with your clients giving them the highest caliber representation.

Month Six: Sound Financial Management

I put Financial Management in here even though my clients are lawyers. Most of my clients can handle multiple trust accounts, crunch numbers in divorce settlements, and even keep track of wily accountants. But when it comes to tracking their own numbers, lawyers are way less effective.

Just about every law office I've worked with needs some guidance in this sector. Let’s face it, it’s exciting to see revenue coming in, but boring to truly manage the bottom line. Sometimes it’s scary to face the facts. Challenging to think about actually charging what your work is worth.

Now understand I put this last in the sequence for two reasons:

Number one: by this time I should have built a level of credibility in your eyes.

Number two: most of my clients are very hesitant to admit they need help in this area.

This falls into the area of “Shhh. Don’t talk about it.” No one wants to admit their practice is deficient in this area. But once we make some simple but solid changes, it will have a positive benefit on your practice and your life.

Bonus: Month Seven: Putting It All Together

I include a seventh month as a bonus. Here’s where you graduate but ONLY after I show you how to efficiently integrate all that you have mastered.

In this month, we’ll make sure that you not only know what to do and how to do it but you've also implemented it.

It’s one thing to know ABOUT the topics we've covered. It’s another thing to actually DO them. Day in. Day out.

I want to make sure you do not feel overwhelmed or as if you are still juggling those balls or spinning plates.

I want you fully comfortable that you can maintain your new level of achievement without frustration.

Then and only then will I feel that I have helped you fully achieve your goals.

What’s Next?

Remember how I told you I hate hard selling? Well it’s true. I’d like to invite you to a private conversation with me. This is a conversation – not a sales pitch.

If you are ready to end the frustration and grow your legal practice, I’d like to chat with you.

The consultation is probably an eye-opening experiences that you will encounter in thirty minutes or less. It is an enormously interesting experience. I’ve helped dozens of lawyers find enduring solutions to their practice challenges.

First... I will deeply listen to your situation.

Second... we will explore your own problems and solutions. You will see the possibility of creating this change with the support of a coach and a group of like-minded professionals.

Third ...we will determine if you really want to change your practice model.

Then....if you are a good candidate for program and only if growing your practice is something you really want to commit to... only then... will we discuss our Practice Target program. I've found that whether you have a new practice or have been established for years, we probably can get you better, faster, easier, and more…actually, enduring, results.

Last... You decide. No pressure. No sales. Just a powerful, personal meeting. I give you my word.

I’m either right for you or I am not. You will know it at the consultation that you have with me.

I have a high documented success rate for almost everyone that follows the simple, clear program we lay out together.

Because of the amount of time I spend with each client as well as the group, I actually have a hard limit on the number of clients I work with at any time. If I can not accept you into the October program, I will place you on the waiting list for the next time a place opens.

I am not looking for a commitment to the program. Just the opportunity to spend some quality time with you on the phone.

Please click here to fill out the brief questionnaire and schedule your consultation.

It’s the first step to a new practice.  #lawpracticemanagement#

Thursday, April 11, 2013

51 Weeks of Pace: Time to Tap Your Brakes?

What happens when the pace gets so fast you can’t keep up? Just like a runner, you falter, hoping not to fall. Might do it more than once, as you adjust.

Here’s what I often see. You have client work in progress, but you’re not using any kind of project planning. You know the deadlines you have to hit, but you haven’t yet thought about how much elapsed time you’re going to need to meet them, and you certainly haven’t accounted for any time to manage your client's expectations. You’re getting pipeline leads and new business from networking you did a month or more ago, and you're afraid not to take work. Files start to pile up. To-do lists and post-its multiply.

Friday, March 8, 2013

51 Weeks of Pace: Question the rules!

You must have seen the story about the nurse who would not administer CPR to the dying woman last week. Maybe you heard the 911 call recording. Excruciating. If the 911 operator could have reached through the phone to give aid, she clearly would have. The person making the 911 call, the nurse- did not. She cited policy. It was against policy to provide CPR. The woman died. Otherwise, none of us might have heard the story.

Are you thinking you'd never go along with a rule that kept you from doing what you knew to be right? Never just accept something as a rule or guideline, if it made no sense to you? We do it all the time. The consequences aren't as immediately obvious or clearly lethal as in the CPR example, that's what makes it difficult to track.

The rules I'm talking about are things like:
  • I must be available to my clients at all times....even if they would be just as happy knowing I'll get back to them in a specific time period.

Friday, March 1, 2013

51 Weeks of Pace: Get Out of Your Head!

You won't travel far if you're stuck in your head. This is a JOURNEY you're on! Pace is key. You have clients to serve, life to live, lots to learn and to do. 
When you change your pace, do it intentionally- as a break, a vacation, a celebration. Squelch all urges to rethinksecond guessregretwish thisif only that, and especially, fear and resist. That's the whole lizard brain story, and we know you don't want to listen to a lizard in your head.

Action starts with your thoughts.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

51 Weeks of Pace: Fail Faster!

Time waits for no one. So, wherever you can crash the schedule, get things done sooner, with less elapsed time- you free time up. It's that simple. It pays to fail fast.
You know I'm all about measuring what matters. It's a fact, you will fail. (Or you'll be doing nothing, in which case you have all the time you need.) So catch it as early as you can. See what is working, determine success or failure and then take action. Learn. Add/change/delete.
Your pace will be impacted by your failures, just as it is by your successes. Cut the cycle time from trial to success or trial to failure, and you'll get more benefit from the successes and less drag from the failures.
Not getting it? Think about athletes- you've seen world champions fall or stumble, whether it's in practices or while competing. The pros absorb it and recover so fast that it seems impossible. That's what I want for you.
Again- if you are successful, you will have failures. They're a good thing because it means you're trying to be more successful. Celebrate failures. But make sure you fail as fast as you can!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

51 Weeks of Pace: Measure What Matters

Every month end is a good time to check in and see if you need to change your pace to meet your goals for the quarter.

If you have a monthly review process, use it. If not, then here are a few key questions to guide you:
  1. How would you rank yourself on your "getting things done" record for the month? What needs to change? Anything you thought was important that you need to stop trying to do? (brochures, website updates) Any top priorities you must ensure you get done? 
  2. Looking at this month's invoices and your Work-in-Process, plus work you have signed and know you will invoice this quarter, where are you versus your quarter goals? [see note below for WIP definition]
  3. What's in your marketing pipeline right now? Is there anyone you can move from prospect to client? What activities need to be calendared to make that happen?
  4. Are you making 3 quality marketing connections a week? (referral sources, prospects, past clients)  
  5. Looking at how business is coming in- do you need to make more connections in order to meet your goals? Do you need to change your script in order to turn those connections into leads, prospects and clients more quickly? 
Whether you do a lot of analysis or take a shot with a few data points, start going through this process monthly. Measure what matters, and when you do- take action based on the reality of the results. Change your plan. Connect your actions to your schedule and calendar. Make sure you're delivering great client work and attracting new work at the right pace to meet your goals.

Every month you need to check in as if it were Groundhog Day. Like that little guy below, it's time to raise your head up and check in with the outlook for the future.

February Reality Check - Groundhog on Alert

Note:  WIP is the value of the amount of client work you have completed but not yet billed. It's a number that you want to have on your monthly financial dashboard. If the number is increasing, or if it's lower than you think it should be, then you might have a problem with a lack of work- or you have a delay in your billings. In a solo/small shop, you might think it's just extra work to track WIP, but I'm going to submit that it helps you remain disciplined about timekeeping and billing. This also reduces cash flow stress, because you're more aware of the timing of your revenues. Track it!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Change the Settings You Can & Ignore the Rest

From the Solosez listserve, subject line was "I am at my wits end with Facebook":

"I am continually receiving "Suggested Page" posted on my News Feed.  I have checked and double checked my settings and I cannot figure out how they get there.  I also received an "Upcoming Event" that has nothing to do with me.

How can I stop this.  I am about ready to quit FB; it's like a pernicious virus!"

And Darryl G. Stewart's genius response from his law offices in San Antonio, Texas:

Change the settings you can and ignore the rest.  It works similarly for life (and Solosez topics) to the extent one is willing to accept some level of dissonance rather than fight pitched battles over everything.

Focus on what is important in life.  Most of what we see every day is not the most important.

One has a choice with regard to the response to that which annoys.  My suggestion is that a thick skin and clear focus on matters of true import is better than alternatives.

Thank you, Mr. Stewart, an admirable piece of advice. Invaluable. Use it liberally!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

51 Weeks of Pace: Got Baggage?

Frustrated lawyer

It's simple. Baggage slows you down. Tires you out. Impacts your pace.

No room for any baggage this year. Or any year.

Here are some of the weightier things you might want to unpack from that well-traveled luggage you're carrying:
  • Excuses. For yourself or ones you are making for other people. Ditch the excuses, look at the facts. Choose to live with the status quo or take action. Action with a deadline.

  • Shoulds. Convert any "should" to a "must" or a "want" connected to a real goal or leave it on the side of the road.

  • Money stuff. Enough of this conversation. You deserve to be paid well. You deserve to be paid timely. You deserve to be paid for work you do not choose to do for free. You deserve to work with people who value your services as highly as you do. You deserve not to worry about money now or for your future.

  • The need to be "ready". Face it, you are ready, right now. You are competent. If you come up against something you shouldn't be doing, you'll not do it, right? You know how to find experts to help you if you hit a road bump. At some point in your life-to-date, I'll bet you made something up as you went along. Chances are it went pretty well. Not ideal- but you did it. You are carrying too much "ready" ness. Hasta la bye-bye to that.
Four items to unpack and scatter to the wind. Move forward. Soon, they'll be completely out of sight.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

51 Weeks of Pace: Leap!

Planning is a rapid prototyping exercise to do on a regular basis. It's not something you finish. You don't have to wait for THE PLAN, you can start DOing now. Sometimes people spend the month of January worrying about a big plan, or resolutions, or something that feels like a magically designed big picture. Don't wait until you have the perfect plan- take a bit of a leap in January!

Check out the girl in the picture. I'll bet you have a lot in common.      

Girl Jumping Into Water

  • She's wearing a life jacket. She's taken care of the biggest risk, she isn't going to drown. Like her, you likely understand the big dangers and risks out there, and you likely know how to mitigate them. Not so much to be scared of.

  • She's got help. She's not alone, there are people behind her, people who will come to her aid if she needs them. You too. (Although you probably have a lot more "stuff" around asking for help than she does- given your, umm, maturity.)

  • She has some training. You can see that because she has technique- check out those arms, that pose. She might not be entirely comfortable, but she has a sense of what to do and she's going to do it. I think you know what to do too.

  • In a minute, once she takes the plunge, she's going to feel proud and she's going to be having fun! How about you, would it be fun to feel more "in action"? What would it feel like to take control, or give it up- depending on how you look at it, and take a leap?

Bet you thought I was all about planning. But no, this January is about taking steps, asking yourself daily "what can I do to build my business today" and then making that a priority. I have all the faith in the world that you've already got some ideas for what you should be doing and aren't. You read marketing stuff, you read time management stuff, you know about goals. You've been thinking about it long enough. It's just not that scary.

This week- get over any inertia. Get into action. Because, a body in action tends to.....

Friday, December 7, 2012

Questions for Santa: Do you ever get grumpy?

Dear Santa,

Grumpy Santa

I’ve got a question. Do you ever get grumpy? All those kids wanting and wanting and waiting and waiting for their presents? “You better not pout” really doesn’t have much clout these days. And then--- they get what they want; they break it; they tire of it; they don’t want it; they want something else? How about when they got exactly what they said they wanted, and were absolutely thrilled. Their hearts were so happy, your heart was full, and all was well. And then--- they wanted what their brother or sister or friend got instead. The kids go back to pouting, but Santa, don’t you just want to go back and do a little shouting?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Too Expensive? What Would the Bargain Have Cost You?

"The work was amazing. Really excellent work. Thorough, creative and delivered right on time. She's very good, but it was expensive."

That's what a lawyer told me about working with a freelance attorney. Terrific that the lawyer had the wisdom to know when to delegate. Fantastic that the experience was a very good one. Because, so often, outsourcing work results in wasted time, money and energy.

Has it happened to you? Ever outsourced something only to have to do it yourself anyway? Ever had to beg for the work to be completed, even though deadlines are long past? Answer a million questions that the vendor should not have had to ask? What about the energy- how does it impact you to be faced with an inferior product late in the game? Work you have to "fix" or, worse, "make do". Anger. Frustration. Exhaustion, because you didn't have time to do it in the first place.

So- whenever I hear of an outsourced project that goes well, just as it should, even better than expected- I celebrate. I'm a fan of leverage. Outsourcing can be a wonderful option and it's good to find those providers that I can recommend without hesitation. There's a lot on the line for the lawyer who delegates. Too expensive? I wonder. Maybe that lawyer needs to raise her fees to protect her margin. Maybe she's not charging what her own work is worth.

I'm not saying that there's a one:one relationship between price and quality. We all know that's not true. (I'm looking at you, are your fees appropriate?) Sometimes a bargain can be just that- a bargain. Likewise, sometimes an expensive resource can turn out to be an overpriced disaster. However, if you find someone to trust, but you think they're too expensive to use- reconsider. Outsourcing is like buying time and experience. You get more of each, if you're lucky. If you find a great resource- figure out how to make it work for you.

Dollars are the most obvious measure of expense, but sometimes, within reason, not the most important one.

Note: Lisa Solomon is the fantastic freelancer referenced here. You can see a LOT of testimonials on her website. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Would you make the cut? Play to win.

Today, Hanna finds out if she's made the cut for her high school's soccer team. She's played since she was in about second grade and if you asked her what she loves, it's  soccer first and French second. Nearly every summer she's made it to a soccer camp. She's the kind of player who shows up. Practices, games- she's there. She's gotten tough and field-smart, and she has two good feet. On her travel team, she's a top player. Co-captain.

But this is a new group, and the competition is tougher. This is high school. There are girls who are older, girls from clubs that are more competitive. Hanna's always shown 80% in try-outs; she's good at drills, but in scrimmages, she's never as aggressive as she is in games. She hasn't had to try out for quite a while, either. All in all, she's anxious, and I am too. Looks like about 10-15% of the girls trying out will be cut, based on what the Coach has said. Definitely not a sure thing.

Hanna's going to get an email later today with the results. I'll let you know how it turns out. This has been quite a reality check. She'd gotten used to the status quo, always good enough. I'm pretty sure that whether she makes this team this year or not, Hanna's already started stepping up her game. She's more aware of where she needs to focus. She's fired up about being a competitor in a stronger field.

The point of the story is that all of us are playing some game. We want to win. I coach the game of "money, time & impact." Winning is earning what you target to earn, spending your time the way you target to spend it, and making the kind of impact in the world that you target. The "game" analogy works, and Hanna's situation made me think about my own game, and yours.

Put yourself in her shoes- if you had to try out, would you make the team? Think about your "game" and what it takes to win. Take a look at how well you're playing. What are your strengths? How strong is the competition? Would Coach choose you? Would you be hoping for Varsity or ready for JV? Certain you'll make the team? Praying to make the team?

If you see anything less than you, playing at your best- using winning strategies, working with great players, then think of this as a time to start training. Get in shape. Practice. Focus on how you define the "win". As we head to another quarter's end- make sure you're positioned for yourbest winning season ever!

Nuff said. I'll be mindful and not use another sports analogy this month!

As for me, I've been working on some new coaching skills and focusing my game, getting ready for "back to school." I'm looking forward to helping you set practice targets for your law firm in a series of three short reality check conversations in September. Hit the FYI button in the blog sidebar, or sign up here to receive scheduling information. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Just Say "Yes" to Ruin Your Firm's Reputation

You can do everything, but you can't do everything at the same time. Words to live by. If you don't have the capacity to deliver an acceptable level of service and attention, turn business down or delay it until you open up more capacity. It's a problem solos deal with all the time.

You do legal work. You do the work of managing your practice. You have to know how much time you need for both, and what that translates to in terms of your availability. Taking business you can't handle is the worst client service move you can make. You'll become someone who is afraid of phone and email inquiries from clients that are on stalled on the runway. You're at risk for delivering work that doesn't represent your capabilities. You are at real risk of missing deadlines. Reputational risk rises with every day you can't meet your commitments.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Great Habit: Conduct a Mini-Q Review

As we head to the end of the quarter, here are a few questions to consider for your strategy planning agenda.  That would be the strategy session you're having, CEO to CFO, sometime next week or in early April. Depending on how the firm's been doing, it can be a difficult time to be the CEO or CFO, but it's always good to look at the facts and face the future.

  • What are you leaving behind in the first quarter?

  • What are you taking forward to serve you in the second quarter?

  • Are you on track to meet the goals you've set for 2012? If YES- what are you doing to celebrate?

  • Are there any changes you need to make to be more sure of meeting your goals?

  • Is it time to reforecast? Revise goals?  (note- this can be because you're exceeding your goals, or because you have more information now and you need to revise downward)

  • What's your "theme" or motto for the second quarter?

  • What are 3-5 KEY Q2 goals? What are your top priorities, ones that you come back to for focus and clarity?

  • If you had a coach, what would your coaching focus be for the next quarter? This can relate to action or to attitude. Need some examples?

Learn to let go of emotions that don't serve me well much faster, roll with the punches.

Become connected to my calendar, "at choice" at least 80% of the time.

Follow-through, completion of one thing before moving on to another.

Be kinder, more nurturing in my relationships.

Learn to say no.

Every month's end is an opportunity to check in with your goals, see what's happening, make course corrections. If you're doing that regularly, there won't be any surprises in your quarterly review.  If you haven't been consistent, take the opportunity now.  Check your financials and your pipeline. Look at how you've spent your time and the return you are seeing. If you don't like what you see- then understand the ways that you might change those results going forward. (And put some monthly review processes in place. You will be more successful, I promise.)

Every milestone is a place to stop and take stock. Celebrate progress, learn from missteps, and create new energy around the future. Enjoy!



Thursday, February 23, 2012

Adding Value Without Devaluing Your Services

As a business coach for lawyers, I'm hearing this more and more:

I know it's supposed to be good to be generous and provide value to prospects. I have all this great information that I give away on my website, but I never hear from anyone who downloads it! They just take the information and think they can do it themselves, or use it with a different lawyer...

All experts struggle with the desire to help and serve with their expertise versus the fear of giving it away. It's the conflict between adding value and eliminating the need for your services. And, let's be clear that I mean perceived need for your services, because one of the worst jobs of any professional is to fix the problems that people create by NOT hiring a professional! Sometimes lawyers earn higher fees to address issues related to the new do-it-yourself legal services than they would if they'd done the work initially.

I'm a fan of Hinge Marketing; they focus on marketing and branding for professional services firms and they offer a generous amount of free information. I sent them Fairytale brownies for Valentine's Day, so you know I think they're special. What I want to show you today is the description of one of the resources they offer for free:

 This is a great example of how you can give prospects information they'll value- and still position yourself as the partner they turn to when they're ready to act. Look at the logical path the material takes; it starts with when/why you need the services, includes information regarding the investment clients might need to fund, introduces a timeline and offers the prospect other resources and tools.  And wait- check out that 6th bullet: 

How to select your rebranding partner

I'm pretty sure that whatever that list of criteria is, Hinge Marketing meets it and you know it by the time you hit that section. By then, you'll have an idea re whether you want to rebrand now, whether you can afford it, how long it might take, and whether or not you're interested in an expert partner. That's about as much qualifying as you can do with no interaction. If you are ready- then Hinge has established its expertise and already started to create a relationship with you. They don't "sell" to you. They encourage "try before you buy". Wouldn't they be your first call?

Back to the point- the piece offers a great deal of value to readers and it demonstrates expertise. What it doesn't do is tell you how to do it yourself. 

Generosity works. Unless you're new to me, you already know I believe you can market without doing anything that feels tricky or sleazy. This is an example of a great way to offer value to prospects, do a bit of qualifying as you educate, and create an appetite for your services.  Is it a tactic you can use?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Small as the beginning of BIG. Impact, that is.

This is how wayfinding works: you begin practicing certain skills just to feel better, but this seems to benefit other things too, until quite unintentionally you end up working to mend things you thought were far beyond your small scope.
—Martha Beck, Finding Your Way In A Wild New World
As often happens, just when I'm thinking of something I'd like to share- some genius shows up in my mailbox saying it far better than I'd drafted!  If you  "get" and follow Martha Beck's advice,  you will see a huge impact in your life and the lives you touch.  "Begin to practice certain skills just to feel better."

Burn out, frustration and exhaustion are all in the air this month.  In coaching conversations, it starts out looking like something else- failure to complete things, procrastination, complaints of being stuck, even rebellion.  When we get near the bottom of the issue, it's often something like, "of course I'm feeling like this, I'm over-booked, not prioritizing, spending time with people that make me mad, and putting myself last all the time."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ask for help. Be grateful. Owe many thanks.

Thankful for readers, yet stuck for what to write about, I rambled through Thanksgiving quotes.  Here’s the one that popped:

On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.  ~William Jennings Bryan

Yup.  If you’ve lots to be thankful for, it’s likely that you’ve had help along the way.  Most of you can also think of the help you’ve gladly given others, and the thanks you’ve received.

So why is it so hard to ask for help?  Why do so many of us fear that we might look "stupid" if we ask for help? Why so hard to acknowledge dependence? 

Doesn’t matter.   What matters is that if you are at all reluctant to ask for help - get over it.  Struggle is often optional.  Use every option you have to get from here to there as elegantly as possible.  Asking for help will make the journey less stressful and faster.  There’s nothing more to it.  If you ask and are turned down, well, so what?  In the vast majority of cases, people are flattered when you ask for their help and will gladly offer it.

Need some examples?

I love doing this kind of  work and I’d like to add more clients  like you.  I’d really appreciate your help in growing my practice.  [ask for ideas, a referral, introductions, appropriately]

I’m working on a complex matter and I’m wondering if the approach I’m taking is the best one, would you mind spending a half an hour with me?  I’d appreciate your perspective.

You’re one of the most successful solos in the area.  I’ve been marketing consistently, but I’m not seeing a lot of clients coming in.  I wonder if I’m using the most effective tactics.  If you have some time to share your experience, I’d greatly appreciate your help. 

Give yourself permission to ask for help.  Here’s a homework assignment: ask for help at least once a day for two weeks.  On the flip side, offer help when you can.  This Thanksgiving, think about the balance of receiving and giving help, of thanking and being thanked.

All in all, you’ll be happier and more successful in less time if you master the art of asking for help.  I think that's worth the risk of being turned down or looking "stupid".  In fact, wouldn't it be stupid if you could get help and just don't ask?

(Maybe I should call this the "stupid" post.  Dang, does this post make me look stupid...?)