It is a simple fact that no great business was born out of a small idea.
Small dream ~ small realisation.
Big dream ~ big business.
Lawyers are not right brain thinkers (see the work of Daniel Pink). And they have great difficulty in envisioning a changed scenario from the one they are presented with.
One of the greatest sayings of all time comes from Napoleon Hill:
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive he can achieve.”
But if you conceive of the status quo then, guess what, that is what you will get.
More of the (dire) same.
Dreaming big feels unnatural.
Law firms became bloated on ‘no sweat’, incremental growth, and for those at the top it sustained a very nice lifestyle, thank you very much. Of course all that has changed (the growth that is).
My advice is to vigorously reassess your position in the market.
The starting point: is your firm the most that it can be?
Next: what is your vision or dream for the firm?
If you are just in it for the money then you have a problem. I don’t accept that even the wealthiest people in the world do it for the money. However trite it may sound – and by god it is trite – they do it to make a difference. To make some almighty dent, racket or impression that will leave an enduring legacy. Now you may not care one iota for that stuff but from my experience doing it, doing it, doing it for 12+ hours a day and all that that entails will never make up for a big fat cheque. You can’t buy back your life.
Do you see the firm expanding? And if so do you have the capability to do so?
You need to fully understand and be able to articulate your brand proposition, Unique Selling Point and differentiating factor? What are your core values? Are they contrived or real?
Less is more.
Don’t come up with a jazzy strap line. It doesn’t mean a fig to your clients. That said if you believe like BMW that you offer something “radically thrilling” then shout it from the rooftops.
When it comes to your offering, please don’t give the usual retort about your excellent (with a small ‘e’) service, the fact that the work is done by lawyers and you have a long-standing relationship in the community. It might have counted for something in the past but no longer.
Clients expect more, much more. Soon, if it is not already happening, they will start to look elsewhere, and if you don’t provide outstanding, dare I say remarkable service, then you are history.
As harsh as it may sound, most firms lack the confidence to think that they can grow or get better.
Most lawyers are still caught by the self-limiting belief that they went to law school, not sales school. In other words they don’t have the skills nor, in most cases, the appetite to go looking for new and better work. They are happy to forage around as best the can and just hope that clients come to them.
My advice is to leave that thinking behind and start afresh. Imagine you were setting up a law firm with no clients. What would you have to do to attract clients?
Dreaming big is key.
And it is hierarchical. It has flow from top to bottom.
It has to be driven with passion, determination and a strong sense of self-belief. If you are faking it, then how do you expect others to carry the message?
You can’t expect for everyone to agree your strategy or the tactics, but they will have more respect for you if you are consistent in your message and you don’t get blown off course when things don’t go according to plan.
Nail your colours to the Big Dream mast. What will the firm look like in 3 years? Will you still be doing the same work? Stop deluding yourself that you need to be all things to all people. Apart from anything else it is nigh on impossible to market a practice that covers every conceivable service. If you must do this ask yourself if the brand is sufficient to cover all practice areas. It is very likely that the external perception is different to your understanding of the brand. The two will not always chime, but you have far more likelihood of making it big if people understand what they are buying.
I don’t expect there to be a rush to change your modus operandi. But I know from my own experience that I never achieved any client wins by accepting defeat before I started. I got a rush from the thought of delighting my clients no matter their size, and dreaming big was part of my DNA.
Even if you don’t get quite the same thrill then fake it. Talk it up if you must.
Just remember that even the best companies had to start somewhere.
Dream Big and great things will happen.
Make sure you understand your strengths and weaknesses. Market to one and improve the other.
Take a bottom up approach if you think that would better than trying to inspire by grand words and messages that nobody believes. Paint fantastic pictures. Tell stories. Do whatever is necessary to change the hearts and minds of the people in your charge.
Walk the talk.
Show your commitment to the dream. Go the extra 100 miles. Be prepared to fail and admit your mistakes if something is not working.
There is no other but to dream BIG!
~ Julian Summerhayes ~