After talking to hundreds of attorneys each month, there’s one consistent theme we see in most solo and small firm practitioners.
They’ve hit a ceiling — perhaps in their income or in the number of hours they dedicate to growing their practice — and they don’t know what to do about it.
Are you experiencing something similar?
I’ve noticed that most attorneys have too much ‘stuff’ on their plate. The client and administrative work alone take up most (or all) of their week. Whatever little time is left over is then spent on marketing or business development and all of a sudden, there are no more hours in the work week.
We know that time is the most precious commodity we have and many attorneys are selling their time (unless they’ve abandoned billable hours, which I endorse wholeheartedly).
The problem is, when you’re out of time, you enter a state of deadlock. You don’t know how to take your practice from where it is now to where you want to go.
The first thing we need to realize is incremental thinking doesn’t help.
For example, adding another marketing campaign or taking on another practice area are really just small tweaks, and unfortunately, the collective impact of making a lot of small, random changes is very low.
Your practice might inch along, but the changes usually have no effect, whatsoever.
There’s a quick exercise you can do that will be very helpful for fleshing out what you should focus on and what you should ignore.
Instead of thinking incrementally about your practice, you need to ask yourself, “If I created the practice that I really want, what must be true? And, what can’t be true?”
Take out a sheet of paper. On one side write down all the things you’re currently doing that are consistent with the practice you want.
On the other side, write down all the things that are inconsistent with the practice you want. These are tasks that aren’t the best use of your time. They may rob you of energy or put you in a bad mood, which makes you underperform.
Then, find a solution for every item on the list of inconsistent activities.
Here’s a tip: Most often, the solution is found in delegating.
If you have a full-time staff, you could delegate these tasks to them. If you have a limited staff or no staff at all, you can outsource them.
If you relentlessly focus on delegating, you’ll have more space in your practice to focus on the things that matter. The attorneys who invest the time to focus on delegating make the fastest progress in their practice.
You can even delegate entire functions.
If you don’t have time to do your own marketing effectively, you could delegate it to a third party like Practice Alchemy’s marketing services.
If you’re doing your own bookkeeping, you could hire a bookkeeper.
Obviously, there will be costs associated with delegating. You may need to invest in people, outsourcers, processes, systems, etc., but the expense should be thought of as a true investment.
Other (non-legal) businesses, have to invest in things like inventory. Fortunately, we don’t have to do that. For example, think of a grocery store owner that must invest in perishable inventory. If they don’t sell milk before it spoils, they have to throw it out.
Thankfully, we don’t have that problem, but it often gives us the illusion that we don’t have to make investments, and that’s absolutely not true.
The practices that grow are the practices that make the investments of time and money to create the space to focus on the things that matter.
So, I’d encourage you to go through the exercise. Pull out a piece of paper and write down everything that ‘must be true’ and ‘can’t be true’ and look for ways to delegate (or stop doing) the things that are moving you away from the practice you want.