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167 posts categorized "Resolutions/Goals"

December 29, 2010

Until 2011...

I'm working on a major blog overhaul for early 2011.  Until then, please check out all of my Resolution Posts.  They are some of my favorites.

 

Thanks.  See you next year!

January 05, 2010

Resolve to Let Clients Set Your Price

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I've been using my "You Decide" fill-in-the-blank invoice, for over a year now.  In that time, I've found time and time again that my clients pay me more than I would have charged them.  And, in situations where clients demand a fixed price, I'm quoting them much higher prices (coupled with a money-back guarantee) than I would have before my invoice experiment.

Even though I've been doing flat-fee work for almost a decade, I used to (even subconsciously) focus on the time it took me to do something.  Now, everything I do is focused on delivering the biggest "bang" for my clients, knowing that the "bucks" will come.  I don't track phone calls, preparation time or limit meetings, and I don't charge for materials, travel, meals or other expenses.  In short, I trust that my clients will take care of me if I take care of them -- and they always do.

In 2010, I'd encourage you to resolve to let your clients set your price -- at least once.  Ask a trusted client to list all the services they'd like you to provide for them.  Suggest unlimited phone calls, regular meetings, document reviews, etc.  Provide all these services to them for a month's time.  Then, ask them what they're willing to pay for all the work you've done.   

You may find your clients value your services more than you do.

January 02, 2010

Resolve to Support the Causes Your Clients Do

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If you've got a big client, odds are they've got a pet project.  Whether it is for a community organization, charity, civic group or volunteer event, supporting the causes your clients do can deepen your relationship with them while benefiting those in need.

That's why, in 2010 you need to Resolve to Take Care of Clients' Pet Projects.  For every client, find out what kinds of charitable groups or causes they support (and why).  Armed with this knowledge, here are a few things you can do:

  • Get on the group's mailing list, so you'll always know how you can help.
  • Donate money or goods to the cause's auction in your client's name.
  • Instead of spending your time entertaining your clients, spend that time volunteering with them in support of their cause.  You'll get the same one-on-one time with the client, but will be helping out those in need.  As a extra bonus, you'll probably also get an introduction to several of your client's peers.
  • Find out what is the most pressing legal issue facing the cause (or its members), and offer to give a seminar to help them understand it better.
  • Donate a percentage of that client's fees to their cause as your holiday gift the client.

Your clients will not only appreciate your interest in their cause, but you might gain an interest in theirs.  When that happens, everybody wins.

Resolve to Land a Big Fish

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Almost every lawyer has a "big fish" they'd like to land. Whether that fish is an individual client, a corporation, an insurance company or even a great referral source, your big fish isn't going to catch itself. 

And what better place to find advice on catching "big fish" than on a website called TakeMeFishing?  Some fishing wisdom to keep in mind when you're Resolving to Land a Big Fish:

Fishing techniques:

The cool thing about fishing is that there are hundreds of species of fish to catch.  What's even cooler is that there are multiple ways to catch a particular kind of fish.

When to fish:

You'll soon learn that when it's a bad day for fishing in one location, it could be a good day in another, and the locations may not be far apart.

Finding fish:

You don't have to travel far or spend a lot of money to find a body of water with fish you can catch.

Landing bigger fish:

Don't be anxious.  Even if you get the fish close to the boat, that doesn't mean it's done fighting.

Setting the hook:

It takes a lot of experience to know when to set the hook.  It also takes a lot of patience.

Some fish will nibble on your bait or lure, causing your line to tick or wiggle.  And some fish will try to swallow the entire bait, hook and rig all at once with one big hit.

Different fish strike differently.  And the same fish will go after your bait differently depending on the time of day or time of year.

Caring for your catch:

Fish spoil quickly if you don't handle them properly from the moment you land them.

So as you plan on landing one big fish in 2010, make certain you're prepared: know who they are, where they hang out, what you'll use to attract them and what you'll do with them once they're caught. 

Know the answers to each of these questions before you "go fishing" for big fish, or all you will end up catching are small ones you'd rather throw back. 

January 01, 2010

Resolutions, Revisited.

Last year, I posted Ten Resolutions for the New Year on this blog.  Reading it again, I realized it is one of my all-time favorite posts -- and mirrors my own personal resolutions for 2010 and beyond. 

I wanted to share it with you again this year.  I hope you enjoy it.

1.  Resolve to be better to everyone.  Start with yourself.

2.  Resolve to choose your customers as carefully as friends, knowing that you’ll work best when they’re one in the same.

3.  Resolve to know your business better.  Recognize that being good at what you do is unimportant if you’re not good at being in the business you’re in.

4.  Resolve to stop doing the things your customers don’t pay you to do, unless you love doing them so much, you’d do them for free.  Because you are.

5.  Resolve to value your life by the things you experience instead of the things you possess.

6.  Resolve to eliminate the things in your life that wake you up in the middle of the night -- unless you’re married to them, or they need to go outside for a walk.

7.  Resolve to become more useful to your customers.  Stop thinking about what they expect from you, and focus instead on what they don’t expect from you.

8.  Resolve to help the people who work with you (and for you) become better at what they do.  Give them what they need to excel at their jobs, and you’ll find you’re more likely to excel at yours.

9.  Resolve to understand the difference between what you do for clients and how long you take to do it.  They care about the former, and can’t understand why you charge for the latter.

10.  Resolve to do the work you long to do, instead of the work you’ve been doing for too long.  Follow your passions, honor your principles and strive to add value to every relationship you’re in. “Next Year” begins now.  Get started on making it great!

December 31, 2009

Resolve to Count Cards

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As 2009 draws to a close, we all find ourselves with lots of stuff on our "to do" lists for the next year.  Whether your thinking about finding time to meet your deadlines, accomplish your goals or even follow your resolutions, there never seems to be enough time to do it all.

As you begin 2010, Resolve to Count Cards, using this this incredibly powerful exercise I first ran across in 2006.  From an article in the now-defunct Worthwhile Magazine (by creativity guru Eric Maisel) comes this gem:

Get seven decks of cards with similar backs. Lay out all seven decks on your living room rug, backs showing. This is a year of days (give or take). Let the magnitude of a year sink in. Experience this wonderful availability of time. (This is a powerful exercise.)

Carefully count the number of days between two widely-separated holidays, for instance New Year's Day and the Fourth of July. Envision starting a large project on that first holiday (today!) and completing it by the second.

It also works great with clients!  Give it a try.

December 30, 2009

Resolve to Apologize Better

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Everyone makes mistakes.  Even lawyers.  That's why, in 2010, you should Resolve to Apologize Better.  

Why apologize?  Apologies increase client loyalty and reduce malpractice exposure.  But how do you apologize better?  Practice! 

Here's a great guide from Psychology Today (about apologizing to women) that sets out the six mandatory elements a good apology:

1. Acknowledge the Wrongful Act

2. Acknowledge that You Have [Caused Harm].

3. Express Your Remorse

4. State Your Intention Not to Repeat

5. Offer to Make Amends

6. Seek Forgiveness

Read the entire article for examples of language you should and shouldn't use, and practice apologizing.  You may find a well-timed apologize helps you as much as it helps your relationship with your client.

December 26, 2009

Resolve to Keep Your Promises

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Most of us don't break our promises on purpose.  But as anyone with a seven-year old can attest ("But daddy, you promised!"), promises are in the mind of the beholder. Too often, we fail to realize someone else believed our vague pronouncement committed us to a concrete course of action. 

Since keeping your promises begins with knowing whether you've made one or not, in 2010 resolve to know (and keep) your promises better.  Never end a client conversation without asking them these two questions:

  1. What have I agreed to do, and when do you expect me to do it?
  2. What have I have promised (or predicted) will happen, and when do you expect it to?

Hearing their answers to these questions will help you know if they are hearing what you think you're saying.  Most importantly, you'll stop making (unintentional) promises you can't keep.  Now, if it would only work with seven-year old little girls....

Resolve To Fix Your Technology Less

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This resolution is for nearly every solo and small firm lawyer out there (including those with computer science degrees): Resolve to Fix Your Technology Less.

How many times has a quick technology fix turned into a day of un-billable time?  Trust me on this one, no matter how much (or little) work you have, your time is better spent building your business and serving your clients than it is crawling around on the floor underneath your desk repairing your computers or troubleshooting your network. 

Need help remembering this resolution?  Try this simple trick:

Everywhere in your office where you have technology (on the copier, on the network switch or router, and on every computer) tape a label that has the following information on it:

  1. Your hourly rate
  2. The hourly rate of your tech-support person
  3. Their phone number

Now every time you're tempted to "fix" something yourself, call in the experts instead.  You'll find that you (and your technology) will be happier and more productive when you spend your time doing your job instead of doing someone else's.

Resolve to De-Confuse Clients

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What confuses your clients?  What are the things that your clients never seem to really understand?  Is it the directions to your office, your retainer agreement or their monthly bill? 

No matter how much you deserve it, undivided attention from clients is a rarity today.  Whether it is because of their email pinging, cell phones ringing or children screaming, you're getting less attention from clients now then ever before -- and a distracted client is far more likely to be a confused one.

That's why, in 2010, you should resolve to make every communication you have with clients (both in person and via mail/email) less confusing. 

Start by asking every client in every meeting if there is something you could have made clearer and easier to understand, and pay attention to the things you explain over and over again.  Next, pick one of those things each month to "de-confuse" for your clients. 

Whether you use photographs more, rewrite your retainer agreement so a sixth-grader can understand it or complete a "Frequently Asked Questions" handout, by the end of 2010, you'll find your less-confused clients are easier to serve and more satisfied with you.