Gary Mitchell's Biz/Dev Coaching Blog
So you’ve worked your entire career building your practice/firm/company. Retirement is on the horizon. What is your plan? Will you simply walk away? Will you forfeit all of your hard work, time, and energy and not reap the full benefits of your hard work?
Why not start planning now! Why not work to building up your practice/firm/ company so that it becomes more attractive to have someone or another firm buy you out? That’s your cash out! That’s your retirement reward.
Now there are two main options the way I see it. The first is to build your firm/practice/company and have a broker sell it for you. The second option is to groom within to bring on other associates and work with them to eventually take the firm over. In both cases though, it’s in your best interest to develop your staff so that you can point to a track record where everyone on your team is a valuable part of its growth. In other words, they all know how to, and have a proven record of bringing in new business. That makes your firm more profitable and attractive whichever option you choose.
But don’t wait until retirement is staring you in the face. Plan now!. Act now! Far too many professionals don’t give this enough thought and before they know it, it’s too late.
So many professionals going out on their own think they have to do it all on their own. Well sure you can. However, why make the same mistakes others before you have? Why waste time and money trying to figure it all out on your own? Why not learn from others, get advice and guidance, and leverage the wisdom of others gained the hard way? Do you want to learn the hard way? It’s very time-consuming and costly.
Working with a number of startups, the best possible scenario is to get help from the very beginning-as early as possible. from initial concept and vision to business planning.
In my experience those who have sought help from the very beginning experience greater results in a shorter period of time. They seek out and employ the expertise of various other professionals to assist them in starting, and growing their practice or business. It only makes sense. When you have a plumbing issue-you call a plumber. When your car is on the fritz, you go to a mechanic. When you are having issues with your computer, you call in an IT specialist.
Just like your clients go to you for your expertise, why don’t you surround yourself with a team of experts in their respective fields, cutting down on your learning curve and helping you succeed faster?
#startups #businesscoaching #lawyercoach
There are many reasons why boomers should be working with millennials and vice versa. For this post I want to concentrate on what I believe is one of the most crucial reasons-succession.
As we all know these two demographic groups are currently the largest within the current workforce. Aging boomers looking to retire in the next few years need millennials to step up and take the helm. Millennials who are starting out or fledgling in their careers need the boomers to teach them, mentor them and groom them for future leadership.
Whatever differences these two demographic groups have, they must be overcome for the benefit of all.
#millennials #businesscoach #lawyercoach #talentpool
To kick off 2018 I’ve created a new LinkedIn Group-Professional Services Marketing Group.
The purpose is twofold. 1st, to offer a forum where professional service providers can share insights and knowledge, wins and challenges as they grow their businesses. There is power in collective wisdom.
The 2nd goal of this group is to allow you to network ‘virtually’ with other professionals; build relationships and develop more referrals.
The concept of the ‘Mastermind Group’ comes from author Napoleon Hill, in his book “Think and Grow Rich”, published in the early part of the last century. I’ve always loved the concept and many of my clients have and continue to use this strategy to grow their businesses.
And then invite your best referral sources and contacts to join. The more members, the more collective wisdom and the potential to build more relationships leading to more referrals, leading to more business.
#businesscoach #mastermindgroup #growyourbusiness
The beginning of a New Year always offers us so much hope. Hope for a new start. Hope for another chance. Hope to improve, learn and grow. Hope for whatever it is that we want more of.
That brings me to my all-time favorite quote. It comes from one of Goethe’s couplets:
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can-begin it-boldness has genius, power and magic in it”
Happy New Year! With so many people around the world saying goodbye to a very tough year, and beginning a new one with renewed hope for a better future, the concept of time comes to mind. On the treadmill the other day and watching the clock count down, I couldn’t help but remember a conversation I had with my Grandmother when I was younger. By the age of 25, I had already noticed how fast time was going by. She laughed and said, “Gary, wait till you get to my age”. She was 82 at the time. She said, “the more of life you have behind you, and the less you have in front of you, the faster it goes.”
Back to the treadmill. As the time was getting closer to my goal, it hit me. She was right. The more time I had already completed, the faster it went by.
So with this Year New Year, what are you going to do with your time today? What are you going to do with your time this year?
I am very pleased to chair “Raindance: The Business Development Bootcamp for Lawyers” to air September 24th. This Bootcamp is especially geared towards solo practice and small to mid-size firms who are looking to grow. Working closely with the conference organizers at The Commons Institute, we’ve put together a stellar group of presenters including legal practitioners and legal marketers who are leading innovation in today’s marketplace. You will hear from a Law Clerk who will share what she did to grow her network and bring in clients to her firm; a 4th year M&A Lawyer who will share her approach to business development, and a Managing Partner will share how he continued to make rain, lead the firm, manage his people, engage his team in business development and grow his firm. We also have Jana Schilder, my Co-Founding Partner of Legal A Team, who will cover the value of media relations in growing your firm, and Susan Van Dyke of Vandyke marketing, who will cover off effectively using Social Media.
In addition to the amazing content we will cover, each participant of Raindance will receive a copy of my 2nd book, “Raindance 2: A Blueprint for Growing Your Practice”, and a one-hour coaching session with me to follow the conference. If you are looking to grow your practice or firm, this webinar cannot be missed. GO to The Commons Institute and sign up today. Early bird rates are still available. I look forward to working with you to grow your firm.
If your firm is like the small firms I’ve worked with, you have a cohesive and happy team. If you follow the advice I’ve shared with you, it will only improve that culture of team and success; which is why you must be relentless when bringing on new talent.
First thing is you must ensure anyone coming on board will be open to business development. Moving forward that should be a part of the staff and lawyer profile you are looking for. This is one way you can ensure your firm will continue to grow.
Another thing to keep in mind is ‘fit’. One of my clients has his law clerks and associates do the initial interview. This gives them the opportunity to see if this person is someone that they would like to work with. After you’ve done such a good job creating a cohesive place to work, the last thing you want to do is upset the apple cart by bringing in a dud.
I can tell you one thing, if you have created a culture where people love to come to work, it won’t be as hard as you think to get more great people. There are a lot of unhappy and unengaged people in the legal industry that would jump at the chance to work for someone they respect, be a part of a team, be a part of growing your firm. And when you are selecting lawyers ask yourself if this is someone you think could become a partner one day? Which leads nicely into the next section.
I just talked about giving your people the opportunity and tools in order to succeed. Now let’s talk about how you reward them for their efforts. Depending on your billing model, I offer up two compensation models which are already proven to light the flame in staff and lawyers.
Working with a personal injury firm and understanding the flow of work and the time it takes to reap the rewards and the work is not billed by the hour, The Managing Partner and I came up with this.
- For every successful case that goes to completion, whoever brought in the file, referral or direct contact will receive a percentage of the settlement. I will leave what percent up to you to determine.
- Due to the nature of personal injury work and how it often takes 2-3 years to get to a settlement, the Managing Partner thought it would be good to give them an immediate reward. So for every client that they took on, there would be a one-time lump sum bonus given to the staff member who generated the client.
- And in order to support cohesiveness and a team approach, this firm will regularly reward all staff when the firm reaches and exceeds its growth targets with a profit sharing program.
Billable Hour Model
When your firm bills by the hour and you set targets for your people to reach, there is an opportunity to create a three-pronged compensation model. The first is for hitting targets. The second is for business development. And the third prong, is to support the team approach.
- The first part of this model is rewarding your people when they get close to hitting their billable targets, when they reach them and when they exceed them. This should be customized for each person. You certainly can’t expect a junior law clerk to bill the same amount of hours as a more senior associate. So set up aggressive yet attainable targets for each of your people. Come up with a % when they get close, another % when they reach their targets, and a final (generous) % when they exceed their targets by a certain amount.
- Based on the average revenue of each of your clients or files, your business development bonus structure could look something like this. Up to 50k in collections, they receive a 5% bonus. From 51-149k, an additional 10% bonus on that amount. And for anything over 150k, a 15% bonus on the entire collection. This is a very powerful incentive.
- Thirdly, you want to support a cohesive and team approach. Figure out what benchmarks you want your firm to achieve. Build in additional bonuses for when this happens. This doesn’t have to be strictly monetary. It could be a team outing or a spa day. But be sure to reward your team as a team.
Don’t feel you have to pick one or the other. I have another client who opted for a hybrid of several different models. The important thing here is to know your people and what will motivate them and reward them best.
The first step in growing your firm is to engage your entire team, or as many of your staff and lawyers in business development. Engaging your team starts with identifying who on your team, lawyers, law clerks, paralegals, even assistants and receptionists do you think would be open to earning more income while at the same time enjoy being part of growing your firm? If your firm is like most small firms, you have them.
Approach them one-on-one with your idea. Ask them if they would be interested in taking their career to the next level? Get them a copy of this book, it is after-all designed for the individual legal professional to work through on their own or in teams. Or, go one step further and hire a coach to work with them. Point out the opportunities this will mean to them, expanding responsibilities, personal and professional growth, not to mention more income.
Don’t be surprised when some of them jump at the chance. By giving them this opportunity to expand and grow in their career, you are sending a very powerful message to them, that they are appreciated, you have confidence in them, and that you would like to see them succeed beyond what they themselves could have imagined. This builds loyalty and commitment to the firm like nothing else. Don’t be surprised to see that in addition to referrals starting to come in you notice them being more engaged in their work, docketing more, and generally becoming a more valuable resource to your firm.
Not everyone you approach will want to do this, and that’s ok. But do the math; Five or more Rainmakers vs. just you? And this is how you can begin to create a culture of business development and growth, one person at a time. Eventually you can grow your firm based on everyone being engaged in business development. More on that will follow under recruitment.
In a lot of small to mid-sized firms, your best strategy might be to start with your law clerks first. Lawyers are still very sheepish about business development. Help your law clerks succeed, and this might just shame some of your lawyers to get in on the action.