Time is one of the most important assets for a lawyer. Often, business development and marketing can feel like an invasion on this precious asset. As I work with lawyers across the country on business development plans and strategies for growing their practices, I have learned that one of the most significant challenges many lawyers face is how to build (market) their law practice while serving clients, maintaining continuing education, managing administrative responsibilities and meeting billable hour requirements.
How do lawyers find the time to write and execute a business development plan? The solution is not to find or make the time, but rather to step back from the day-to-day activity of working inyour practice gain clarity on what you want your practice to look like and why you want it.
Growing a successful practice is not just about completing a few marketing strategies on a to-do list, but rather it is a way of doing business.
The following are the four steps for building a balanced, fulfilling and profitable practice:
- Define your Practice Vision- Know what you want your practice to look like and why this is important.
- Clarify your brand- Understand who your most desirable clients and referral sources are, what differentiates you and why clients benefit from your service.
- Communicate your brand- Articulate what you do, both on-line and off- line, so target clients and referral sources recognize the value of your services.
- Action plan -Conduct weekly activities to reinforce your reputation and visibility among your target market.
Accelerated growth begins with a commitment to your vision—to reach a destination, you must first have one. Keeping your vision in mind will help you to reframe your focus and move beyond your current level of thinking to imagine what is possible for building your practice.
Not surprisingly, the response I receive from many lawyers about creating a vision is unenthusiastic. Often, I am challenged that the exercise of creating a vision is not a good use of time or even worse, it is outside of their control.
For many of us, it is easier to react to urgent issues than it is to proactively create a desired practice.
My recommendation is to schedule time in your calendar at least once a year to answer three questions:
- Where am I today?
- Where do I want to be in the next 2-5 years (What do I want? Why do I want it?)
- How will I get there?
Begin with assessing your current situation. Who are your clients? What services are you providing? What is your revenue/ profitability? What is working for you? Where are the gaps?
Next, clarify where you want to be in 2-5 years and give consideration to what you want and why you want it.
Finally, create and execute a plan that will help you achieve your vision.
The last step, is the most difficult to sustain. Knowing what you want and why you want it provides the intrinsic motivation to execute activities that will help achieve the results you desire. Understanding the why behind the what is at the core for any successful behavior.
A recent client commented, “It was not until I made a decision on what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it that it changed the way I approached marketing. Up until that time, I was just doing activity for activity’s sake, and looked at marketing more as an activity on a ‘to-do’ list instead of connecting the activity to an important vision.”
Having a clear vision will help you to proactively grow your practice; it can become a motivating force so powerful that it becomes the compelling reason behind every decision.
Once your vision is defined and internalized, you are ready to translate your vision into action by clarifying and communicating your personal brand.
By first defining your vision and then clarifying and communicating your brand, you are taking steps to change your perspective on marketing. Instead of viewing marketing as an invasion of time, you will connect marketing and business develop activities to achieving your vision, communicating your brand and creating your desired law practice.