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AOL 142: Five Reasons Your Law Firm Will Fail

Daily thoughts on law firm success.

AOL 142: Five Reasons Your Law Firm Will Fail

On this episode I talk about the five reasons your law firm will fail (or, read another way – do the opposite of what I’m talking about to have a successful law firm).

I was sitting at my desk today thinking about what to talk to you about today and it dawned on me – I haven’t done a motivational talk in a while!

And what better way to motivate you than to tell you why your law firm will fail.

Don’t believe me?

I don’t know what the statistic is on business failure as a whole, but I’ve talked to a lot of law firm owners and I can tell you a majority of them (over 80%) are struggling to just make ends meet.

Why is this?

Why is it so darn difficult to create a successful law firm?

Here are the five reasons your law firm will fail:

  1. You will focus on the wrong things
  2. You will build the wrong skills
  3. You won’t spend money
  4. You won’t work hard enough
  5. You won’t wait long enough

It’s as simple and as complicated as that all at the same time.

Starting and building a successful law firm isn’t difficult. There are certain fundamental actions that need to be undertaken.

But if you don’t do those things your law firm will fail.

Listen to the podcast and find out how to start a law firm the right way, the first time.

I mentioned in the show my giving away my greatness tracker. CLICK HERE to get that.


Christopher Small

P.S. – I’ve done it! I started my second six-figure law firm in under 4 months! Want to know my secret? Networking! And I’m sharing my tracking system with you for free. Click Here for Access.

Who am I? I am an expert on starting a law firm and law firm marketing. I’ve started two successful law firms (you can see my latest one here and love sharing what I’ve learned so you can do it too).

Five Reasons Your Law Firm Will Fail Transcript

Hey everybody this is Christopher Small. This is episode one forty two of The Art of Lawyering podcast. I am super pumped to be here with you today. We’re in the office, we’re on Facebook live. If you do not have or have not liked the Facebook page at The Art of Lawyering. Go find it. We’re gonna be live. People are coming in to ask questions at the end. I may turn this on and do like a Friday question thing on a regular. Maybe we’ll do that on Facebook live only. Let me know if you want to do that. But in any event, we’re here and we’re going to talk about five reasons your law firm’s going to fail. It’s about time that we had to come to Jesus talk. Because I know a lot of you are out there thinking that you’re running a successful law firm and it’s not working for you, right. You wonder what’s going on. So this is going to be a little bit of a kind of Jesus, a little bit of motivation, all revved up into one. And you know this is really sort of relevant for me right now because I’m, March, what I’m still on five months into this new firm basically and I see and feel these the same things every day.

And I’ve got a buddy that’s starting a business from scratch and I see what he’s doing and the mistakes that he’s making and they’re relevant to all of us. We all make the same mistakes. I find myself even doing it now so I want to talk to you about them so that you can not feel bad if you keep doing the same things and you fail or you can change your course and start to get some traction with your business. So let’s just dive in. And have notes. So when you see me look over here, it’s because I’m looking at my notes. Number one, you will focus on the wrong things. If you go way way back into my starting a law firm archives. You will see I think I wrote a series of like five posts on choosing a name for your firm and how long. It took me like three weeks or a month to pick a name. And nobody cares about your name. Okay, nobody cares what the name of the firm is and your firm name is a couple of elements. It needs to be easy to spell, that’s it. The URL is available. That’s a bonus. If you could meet those two criteria just move on. My law firm name is CMS Law Firm. C-M-S and that’s almost too bad because nobody knows if it’s M or a N.

Because I can’t talk but, nobody has ever questioned me about my law firm and nobody cares. Nobody cares what it is. Instead of focusing on that stuff, what kind of insurance should I buy. Should I get a printer. Should I get whatever. This is what you need to focus on at the beginning, you need to make money. So you need to get clients. You need to be selling, you need to be networking, you need to be calling, you’re gonna be doing all these things that will get the phone to ring. That will get money in your pocket so that you can get more clients. Once you get some money in your pocket, then you can worry about getting fancy business cards, getting fancy stationery, about getting insurance, right. I’m telling you right now. You don’t have to get insurance at the beginning because you have no clients. So you have no liability and you’re poor probably. So if something goes wrong, you just start all over. You’re not going to do anything wrong because you’re so freaked out about doing something wrong that you don’t do anything wrong. Okay, happens every time. I see it over and over again. I’ve experienced it myself. So focus on selling.

Number one, if you want a little, bit I’ve been reading a book it’s called, Ready, no, “Ready Fire Aim” By Masterson I think and he makes this excellent point in the book. When you go in, and we’re talking about beginning stages of business from a zero to a million dollars in revenue a year. And at that point you need to sell, sell, sell, sell, sell. Pretty much everybody watching this thing, is not there yet. So keep selling. Stop worrying about this other stupid stuff. Number two, this goes kind of piggybacks on that. Number two that you build the wrong skills, right. Don’t spend all day reading legal opinions, okay don’t spend all day learning about the latest trust vehicle to use okay. You can learn that stuff as clients come in and you need to apply those lessons to people. You want to learn the basics but you don’t have to become a technical expert and wizard overnight. You can build those skills over time. In the same token, you need to be building your business skills, right. You need to be building your sales skills. selling is an art and it’s not a bad thing. It’s being able to put yourself in front of people that need you and then being able to articulate their needs in a way that makes you the person that can help them satisfy their needs.

That’s what selling is. You need to practice that, you need to practice marketing. You need to look at copy. You need to look at Internet advertising. Leadership, right. Mindset. You have no idea how messed up your brain is right now and how brainwashed you’ve been by life. You know, wake up and you’ve got to step out of your comfort zone to be successful and the way that you do that is with education. So don’t spend all your time diving into legal books. Break it up. Some law, some business. Number three, you won’t spend money. You’re going to be a cheap ass. I’ve been there and I’m like, I’m probably still there in some respects. When I started my original firm, I didn’t spend any money on advertising for like three years probably. I did organic search engine optimization, I did a little bit of networking. But I thought it was stupid. I’ve been doing work. I didn’t see the point. You know, you hear the slogan. You gotta spend money to make money. I thought that was something that was made up by advertisers to get you to waste money on them, okay. But marketing works and it’s true. If you spend some money you will make some money. What you need to figure out is how much money can you spend to get a return on your investment.

If you make even one dollar more than you spend. Then you want to keep doing that. Because it will start to roll, it will start to really have some cash coming in the door. So what does that mean exactly. Networking, take people out to lunch and coffee. Invest that money in those relationships. Marketing, right. Paperclip advertising. I don’t know. Magazine advertising, I would test everything out. I would test it all out for a while. The other thing you spend money on and you should consider spending money on, is coaching, right. Get some help. What we’re talking about here when it comes to law firms or dentist office or Internet start ups, it’s all business fundamentals. It’s all just business principles that have been tried and true forever and there are a lot of people that have used these before and are going to show you how to use them yourself. Not to plug my own sort of service but I offer coaching, right. For law firm owners. I teach people what I’ve done before, so that they can really fast track their success. And I have people that work with me that have made a lot of money very very quickly because they have bypassed a lot of the mistakes that I made and that you’re probably making right now. That you don’t even know about. So invest in that coaching, right. You save yourself. Okay, i’m gonna spend ten grand this year. I should make at least twenty grand, right. You really should make at least one hundred grand probably on it. You should really try to ten X everything you do and people that you purchase from should want to give you ten X return.

So spend some money. Just do it. Trust me. Number four, you won’t work hard enough. Okay, you’re lazy. You know how hard you think you’re working, write down everything you do all the day track how many times you go to Facebook. Track how many times you start looking at your favorite sports team and go the water cooler and have a conversation or you know bullshit with someone at the courthouse. You’re wasting a lot of time and you’re not doing the things that will actually get you moving forward. Picking up the phone, calling those networking people, making cold calls to form new relationships. All these things are things that you should be doing and need to do but won’t do. Okay. One of the things I try to do every week is fill up the greatness tracker. The greatness tracker requires fifteen face to face meetings, five break bread meetings and sixty good phone calls, every week. All right, now, you probably think that’s crazy. But that’s how the work you have to put in if you want to be a successful business owner. You make those phone calls, you have those meetings, you have those coffees, you do that stuff and pretty soon business starts rolling. But you’ve got to work a lot harder than you think.

I think there’s an old saying out there that, you know, entrepreneurs they want to work with is that they want to work eighty hours, so they don’t have to work forty hours for somebody else or something like that. But it’s true. Supposedly at the beginning you’re going to put in crazy work and it’s going to be hard. Just know that, if you’re willing to put that in, knowing that you going to be able to take it out later. And then number five, this is by the biggest one of all and that is. You are not committed to waiting long enough to actually see success. People think they just turn on their firm and put their, make their website live and all of a sudden people are going to flock to them but that’s not how it works. Even the most successful businesses have taken years often to really really reach that point where they have great growth. You know making really good money. So you need to be committed to putting in the time to seeing your success come through. That relates to advertising, right. That relates to networking and relationship building. That relates to your education as a lawyer. That relates to your education as a business owner and business person. It relates to everything. So you need to be committed to giving everything probably double the time that you think it’s going to take at least.

And then probably give them more time after that. Because when you leave, when you quit. You’re quitting too early, right. When you’re frustrated, we’re all frustrated. On a probably, on a daily basis. I look at myself and go, what the hell’s going. Is the phone gonna ring. Is people coming in. And they will. You just have to keep plugging away day after day. Alright, that’s it. One thing, so I’m going to plug something, right. I could give something away here. The greatness tracker. I have this spreadsheet that I give away. You can go to I challenge you to fill that thing out for a month and tell me that you’re not, you’ll have more clients. Many more clients. That thing has been crazy for me. I can attest the greatness tracker on it’s own. And build up an extremely successful law firm. So you should do the same. Alright, so, that is it for the day I will catch you later. Remember go to Facebook, like The Art of Lawyering page. If you want to catch this live stuff and ask me questions. Bye.

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