Yesterday was a full day of video shooting as I made the new videos for the brand new PersonalFamilyLawyer.com and CreativeBusinessLawyer.com websites, which are just about to go live (coming soon). I’m so excited for you to see these sites, mostly because it’s the first time I’ve truly crystallized all in one place the vision I have for you and your impact in the world. The new websites will provide a platform for the promotion of your practice that showcases your value like no other. The results will be extraordinary.
Then, last night when I got home, I began updating the LIFT Manifesto, which will become one of the primary lead generation magnets on the CreativeBusinessLawyer.com website.
I first wrote this Manifesto 7 years ago and didn’t have a true understanding back then of why people do not hire the right advisors for their businesses, building strong legal, insurance, financial and tax foundations from the start. Now, after my own journey on all sides of it, I see it clearly. I want to pass on this insight to you because my guess is that this vital missing piece is holding you back and keeping you from serving your clients at a deeper level.
But once you have this clarity, you can choose differently.
So, here goes …
Legal, Insurance, Financial and Tax Foundations are representative of our commitment to our businesses, how we feel about ourselves and our belief in our ability to achieve our visions.
Most people don’t truly believe in themselves. When they go into business for themselves (whether to create a big vision business, or as a freelancer, independent contractor, or intra-preneur), they do not put LIFT Foundations in place because to do so would require putting a stake in the ground to say, “I’m doing this, and I’m going to do it right because it’s worth it, and so am I.”
Your first job is to identify where you may be avoiding this powerful opportunity. If you’ve invested in our programs here, I know that you are willing to move through some of your resistance to building a real business around your legal services. And, I’m curious where your next level of resistance is showing up for you.
Do you have solid legal agreements yourself? Do you have your own intellectual property protected? Do you have your team members set up properly? Are you incorporated? Do you have the right type of insurance? Are you looking at your financials regularly in a way that allows you to forecast, plan and strategize properly based on a clear understanding of the life and income you want and the time you have to create it? Are you writing off everything you can on your taxes each year?
If you do not have these things all dialed in yet, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, notice where you may be avoiding these tasks out of fear or because you don’t fully believe that you are in this for the long haul, building a successful business you can count on and commit to.
If you serve business owners, see that these foundational areas are where you can support them the most, beyond the surface.
We all need hand-holding to get all of these important pieces in place. I still do too! For example, we have three layers of financial support here at NLBM because there’s no way I would do it on my own.
We have Corey and Anna Whitaker, of Evolved Finance, our long-time bookkeepers, who report on our financials weekly, maintain our cash flow forecast and handle all of our 1099s, work with our tax advisors and attend to every bit of the day to day financial “stuff.” Corey is also the co-creator of the SHIFT program, which we’ll be making available to you at heavily discounted pricing very soon. SHIFT will help you learn to managing the financials of your own business and then helping your clients as well.
We also have Rob Kandell, our CFO, who attends weekly exec team calls with me and LuAnne and helps us to stay focused on our vision while ensuring we aren’t over or underspending. Here’s a great example: We’ve just brought on 5 new team members to support you + invested in a big website overhaul + did a big off-site retreat to vision out the next level of the company. Rob helped advise us on the value of these investments. Sometimes I still get scared and get tight with the money or invest it into things I understand most like marketing, which actually pre-empts growth.
Finally, we have a quarterly meeting with a guy named Brandon from a big accounting firm in Atlanta who reviews our quarterly results with us, usually scares the crap out of me, and helps us to see what we might be missing because we are so close to it. This outside, professional perspective is really important to the financial health of our company.
And, by the way, if we had outsource general counsel (a CBL) supporting us, besides myself (which we probably should have as it’s hard for me to wear the entrepreneur hat AND the lawyer hat!) our CBL would be on many of those calls with us as well.
I remember when I was in the early years of my law practice and I didn’t even want to hire and pay a bookkeeper. It seemed like just another expense and there were already so many.
But then I listened to something by Mark Cuban, a very successful entrepreneur, and he said, “How would you be making decisions differently if you already had the business you wanted?”
I wanted a million dollar law practice (I was probably around $450k when I heard that) and I asked myself, “What I would do differently at a million bucks a year than what I was doing at $450k?” The answer was that I would be happily paying a bookkeeper. Finally, I became willing to invest a little bit in my financial practices. Not nearly enough at that time, but at least it was a start.
A couple of days ago, I was talking with one of our members, Laura Meier of the Meier Law Firm in Orange County, CA about how far she has come. We discussed the next level of growth for her and her partner Josh. She reminded me that there was a time when her law practice was struggling financially and she was scared. Today, they have a 7-figure, extremely successful law practice (and 4 kids!). Talking with her reminded me that no matter where we want to go, on the path to success, we are forced to confront that which we are most afraid of along the way.
Fear, insecurity and doubt are natural parts of life, and growing a business. Your job as a Creative Business Lawyer or Family Business Lawyer is to recognize this truth and help your clients stay focused on their vision, where they want to go, the investments they will need to make, the order in which they will need to make them, and then to put in place the legal agreements, the intellectual property protection, the business structures, the insurance, financial and tax systems that will support it all.
Maybe you don’t yet feel confident enough to do ALL of this. That’s okay. Focus on where you do feel confident. And be willing to recognize where you need more help, more support, keeping your eye on your own vision of the future and how you truly want to impact the people you serve. Most importantly, know that if you keep moving forward, you will get there.
We are here to support you, as you support your clients, perhaps at a far deeper level than you once imagined. This is my vision for lawyering, and my vision for you, as a lawyer. The new websites and the updated LIFT Manifesto will lay this out so you can share it with your communities, giving prospects a better sense of how you can support them, beyond incorporation and trademarks, if you choose.
And, I encourage you to see where you need the support to move beyond your own fears, doubts and insecurities to get your own foundations in place as well. If you haven’t yet done your own estate plan (including a KPP if you have minor children), please do it. If you haven’t yet gotten your own LIFT structures set up, please do so. You are worth it.
If you have a private coach with us, ask him or her for help to see what you might not be seeing. If you need a private coach and don’t have one, you can learn more about our membership programs here. We’re here for you, so you can be there even more for your clients.
Thank you for being willing to stretch beyond the traditional notion of what it means to be a lawyer. In the coming years, as we move into a time of global uncertainty, you are going to be needed more than ever. The foundation you are laying now is worth it.