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Bill or Build? How to Balance Clients and Law Practice Growth

You’re sitting in the office one day, and it dawns on you. Your New Year’s resolution to finally make your law practice a better business has gone nowhere.

You’ve got a mountain of client work. A new prospect calls. You’re not sure if the matter is worth your time, but you take it because you don’t know when the next one is coming.

That’s the conundrum almost every lawyer faces. You have to choose between taking the easy money that’s right in front of you, or following through on your commitment to making a better practice for tomorrow. Money today, or money tomorrow?

Most attorneys choose the easy way out and take the money today. The problem with choosing to make money today is that it takes away the potential to make far more money tomorrow.

I faced the same conundrum in my practice. I had one large client that brought in a huge amount of revenue for me. Even though the client wasn’t exactly perfect, they made up for it, at least in mind, by providing me with a lot of income today.

But that came at a price. I never had time to take my law practice to the next level.

At some point, you just have to make the decision that you’re going to make your practice into a better business, the practice you’ve always wanted. It forces you to do one thing you hate to do – say “no.”

But that’s the only way to create the time and space to devote to law practice growth. Saying “no” to clients who don’t represent your ideal client is the single most profitable thing you can do. Every hour spent on a client who would never exist in the practice you really want is a choice to remain stuck in today, rather than making more money tomorrow.

What Do You Do With Your Newly Found Free Time?

This question always comes up with attorneys who have tried this approach but aren’t sure what to do with the time they used to spend on bad-fit clients.

How do you make sure tomorrow’s practice will enable you to find stronger, less price-sensitive clients?

At Practice Alchemy, we have members who focus on strategic planning and things they can do that will bring the highest yield. If you want to see real growth in your law practice, start by doing these three things.

1) Fix your relationship with your practice. You and your business cannot be one and the same. Be an owner, not just an employee. As long as you think that you are the business - instead of that you own the business, you'll stay stuck. Once you make that leap, make sure you're setting everything up so that the practice stays separate from you.
2) Learn how to make marketing work. Marketing campaigns should run without you constantly wearing yourself out on the hamster wheel at networking events. Marketing should "just happen" - sending you a steady stream of great-fit clients for you to choose from. Yes, it can be done, but only if you approach it with the right strategy.
3) Operate your firm like a business. Learn to leverage people and better systems so you can generate more revenue than you are today. After fixing the foundation - your relationship with your business, and the marketing - next is operating it for scale. How do you make your practice greater than yourself? How can you make more impact, more revenue, and get more freedom? The secret is in operating the business.

If you’re stuck, just jump on the phone with my Practice Growth team and we’ll get into the specifics. Getting help is much better than making costly mistakes as you try to figure it out on your own.

Raj Jha

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