We get by with a little help from our friends
People believed that I had enormous power as the Corporate Ombudsman of the 7th largest bank in the nation. After all, I reported to the President! But, reality was a lot different.
I accomplished the majority of my work through collaboration with others. I leveraged partners throughout the business to help me achieve the organizational goals that were my mission. I became an expert at gathering support and delegating.
As a solo lawyer or small law practice owner, you might not think that collaboration is not for you. After all, you can do everything yourself and save a bundle of money, right?
No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or take all the credit. Andrew Carnegie
You recognize that name, right? Carnegie.
The steel giant who became a major philanthropist responsible for our library system and Carnegie-Mellon University. Big delegation fan.
Carnegie amassed a fortune because he was willing to let go and put the talents of others to his good use. I’m suggesting that you do the same and put the talents of a writer, financial team, lawyer, virtual assistant and Web person to good use in your small business.
I wanted to share with you my picks for your 2017 Business Dream Team and what each can do for you. I’ll dive deeper into each role over the course of the next few weeks, starting with your writer.
Give yourself permission to get support
Did you know that 98% of business owners say that their biggest challenge is doing everything themselves and not having enough time?
Would you agree with this statement? Is it true for you?
There is a myth about the self-made millionaire that lingers. Entrepreneurs believe that they should do everything themselves, and take pride in how endlessly busy they are these days.
Even as we say we want more time we fill it up with unnecessary tasks. The other day I was in a discussion where this came up. Someone suggested that all this busyness is about justifying value. That idea intrigued me.
Some solo practitioners prefer to stay overwhelmed because they believe it signifies to their clients (and to them) that their value must be high because they are in such demand. They refuse to let go fearing that there won’t be anything left for them to do.
You know what Michael Gerber, author of the E-Myth Attorney, would say don’t you? You’re being the technician in your business when you insist on doing everything.
Give yourself permission to seek out and effectively use experts in topics where you don’t have the interest or knowledge to be effective. Be the visionary. Be the brain, not the brawn.
‘Virgin’s ability to grow and diversify successfully was set in the company’s early days, with my learning how to delegate and let go.
Who is on your Biz Dream Team?
Your biz dream team is like the Celtics back in the day. When you got Bird, Parrish and Chief on the floor working their game, well, game over. No contest. I have no idea why I love sports analogies when I’m not a big sports fan. Who knows?
Your Biz Dream Team is a very nice lineup that covers you so you can make the big 3 pointer (more money, more time, more growth- woosh).
Introduuuuuccccing your Biiiiiiiz Dream Team!!!
Coming out first we have your Writer!
Your writer is essential
You have to bring your A game. As a small biz owner you have to convey to your prospects and clients your value quickly and clearly so that they understand how you can solve their legal problem and improve their life. That can be hard to do when you are ‘all up in it’ on a daily basis. You lose your objectivity and can’t see the shine because you ARE the shine.
That’s why you need a great copywriter to take your story and present it in the most compelling manner to your audience.
The writer can help you…
Polish your branding story. Storytelling is super important to sharing who you are and why you do what you do. I tell the story of my husband losing his business because he didn’t delegate as a powerful cautionary tale. How can your story drive home the value of your business?
Be a 30 second Rockstar. Am I the only one who sucks at networking ? The pressure is INTENSE to come up with something informative, creative and blessedly short. Your writer can create multiple openers for you.
Get to the heart of the matter. We buy based on emotion, not logic, according to brain science. Your writer knows which words to use to visually paint a picture and generate emotions that lead to sales.
Your writer can create an attention-grabbing, stand out elevator pitch for each market you select. Personally, I have one message that I share with lawyers, CPAs, therapist and other professionals and another that I share with entrepreneurs. Same message shaped slightly differently for each group to increase retention.
Of course, that’s not all your writer will do for you, but don’t you think that’s a great start? In addition to making you sound like the rockstar you are, your writer can create your:
• Homepage copy
• Sales page copy
• Blog posts
• Guest posts
• Elevator pitch
• White paper (you can check out mine here)
Do you want the benefits of storytelling but don’t have the time or interest? Outsource to a writer.
Next, let me introduce your Financial Team!!
Seriously, you need a financial team, even if you’re a 1 person shop. I bet when you think financial, you’re thinking bookkeeper or accountant. Truth be told, you need a bookkeeper, accountant and wealth advisor.
Tell me if this is true for you. According to the 2015 Small Business Infusionsoft survey, the number one dreaded task is: finances!
Raising my hand over here! I am a lawyer for a reason. I don’t love numbers and we’ve had a funky relationship for years. Mainly, I’d ignore the numbers until I needed to do something like pay taxes.
That lead to another problem: paperwork shame. I literally took a shoebox of receipts to my first bookkeeper.
Thankfully, Kathy had a ton of patience with me as I learned to be a better client. I realized that many lawyers also dread and avoid the finances and get into deep trouble.
You know you need a financial team: bookkeeper, accountant and wealth advisor. These folks are the hands, brains and vision of your business. One tip from your accountant could save you thousands of dollars in self-employment taxes.
What you might not know is how to hire a financial team who gets that you are number-phobic and likes that challenge. Let me share a couple of tips.
Look for testimonials that share some of your issues. “I can in with a shoebox and she turned it into cash!” Social proof is a wonderful thing.
Read websites to discover the professional’s personality and values. The about section is a good place to start but also read the Linkedin profile to get a fuller picture.
The key is finding financial professionals that you trust without question. Like you’d be very comfortable telling this person that you’ve worn your underwear two days in a row. Who could you say that to? Someone who you know won’t judge you!!
In addition to helping you to keep more of the money you earn, your financial team can help you:
• Pick the most cost effective business structure (sole, LLC, corp)
• Set up your chart of accounts in your online accounting software
• Reconcile your accounts
• Do billing
• Help you set prices correctly
• Forecast your financial picture
• Create a wealth plan
• Do your taxes
By the way, I like working with Profit First professionals who use the process laid out in the book by the same name. This method allows you to stop doing accounting every week and limit it to a simply transfer of funds twice a month. Very simple.
Now, bringing up your Lawyer!
Yes, lawyers need lawyers. Doctors don’t set their own broken bones and you shouldn’t be advising yourself about your practice and risk.
Hiring another lawyer can seem daunting. Can I tell you a little secret? Your attorney is a small business owner too who happens to have specialized knowledge. Relate to him or her that way and you’ll feel like it’s more of a balance of power.
That fact is also useful when it comes to fees. Lawyers negotiate their fees. There are so many more models for payment now so ask if you want or need a different fee arrangement.
I used an UpCounsel attorney to execute my LLC for a fixed price, even though I am an attorney. It’s a little more expensive than Avvo but the upside is I have a relationship with an attorney I can call anytime. (you only pay for the time you use)
In addition to representing you against a lawsuit, your attorney can help you:
• Identify the proper business entity structure (along with your accountant)
• Write custom contracts
• Write custom Terms of Service
• Be a referral source
• Introduce you to referral sources
Make some noise for your Virtual Assistant!
A general virtual assistant(GVA) is a remote worker who helps you get things done in your business. VAs are great to help you complete administrative and marketing tasks that are time-consuming for you or beyond your skill level.
Your VA is essential
Your VA can work on a part-time or full time basis, usually for an hourly rate. US-based VAs start around $35-50 per/hour, depending on their specialization.
You can have a VA handle
• your inbox- email sorting and responding
• client requests
• social media creation and promotion
• creating marketing materials like newsletters and infographics
• research and prospecting
• Managing your calendar
This is not an exhaustive list by any means.Your VA can help you at home with personal tasks, too, like researching airfare for your dream trip to Barcelona (oh, that’s me- lol).
While I placed the VA hire behind that of your lawyer, financial team and writer, you could hire a VA earlier to assist you with getting the business organized enough to outsource. It’s simply a matter of budget.
Last but not least- your Web Person!
Your web person is essential
The Internet is crucial to running a profitable law business. Clients expect you to have a well-functioning, good-looking website. 81% of consumers check you out online before contacting you. Online review sites like are part of business life because 90% of consumers check those places in addition to your website.
You must have an up-to-date, relevant online presence. That means you must have a web person on your team to take care of the tech stuff. Sure, you could do it yourself and save money. But what’s more expensive: getting an expert the first time or having the expert fix your mess?
Your web person will be in charge of
• installing WordPress and your theme
• installing and updating plugins
• setting up your SEO optimization
• updating your theme
• dealing with hosting issues
• ongoing maintenance
• emergency backups
This past year was the worst tech year of my life. I lost my entire hard drive. What saved the day? Having a strong tech team to restore and recreate saved my bacon and my sanity. There’s nothing more reassuring than having your tech guy (or gal) say, I got this.
I like to say that a website is like a garden. There’s always work to do! Thankfully, you don’t have to be the one to do it!
Build your own Dream Team
Wow, we covered a lot. You now know the teammates who should be on your A team to ensure that your law business runs smoothly without overwhelm. But you might be saying, how can I afford this? I have two thoughts for you.
One, how can you afford not to prepare your business? Right now, you and your business are fine and healthy. But no day is promised to you. Unexpected illnesses and accidents happen all the time. You owe it to yourself to put in systems that safeguard you and your income.
Two, use your freed up time on income generating tasks that cover the expense of having a team.If it costs less for a team member to do something than it costs for your time to do it, it’s time to outsource it and better leverage that time. I quickly stopped making my own graphics once I realized DIYing a good one cost me $500!
You know my story. It’s pennywise and pound foolish not to invest in help. My husband refused to organize his business or hire help and he paid dearly when a sneeze caused a medical emergency. He lost a million dollar business in a week. I’d hate to see something like that happen to you.
Building your team and putting in systems protects your greatest asset–YOU!