As a business consultant for entrepreneurial lawyers, one mantra I constantly drill into my clients is that a law firm is first and foremost a business. The success of your law firm actually has very little to do with how good a lawyer you are. In fact, you can be the best attorney in your field and your law firm can still fail. Law firms succeed or fail only on how well they function as a business—nothing else. To that end, while we can always learn something from our colleagues, we can actually learn quite a bit more from successful business owners who are not attorneys. Let’s explore some nuggets of wisdom from a few of these highly successful “non-lawyers.”
“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” – Steve Jobs
Successful businesses constantly look for ways to innovate in order to stay ahead of their competitors and bring more value to their clients. The late Steve Jobs is well-remembered for his iconic success with Apple, but he created a few dud projects as well. (Anyone remember the “Lisa”?) His words remind us that mistakes are inevitable, and mistakes don’t disqualify us from success. It’s what we do after the mistake that matters.
“We are not trying to entertain the critics. I'll take my chances with the public.” – Walt Disney
Granted—Walt Disney’s business was entertainment, not law. But Disney was also a brilliant entrepreneur, and as such he knew who his target market was: people, not critics. For us as attorneys, our “public” is our clients. Their satisfaction should be our ultimate measuring stick of what works in our law firm, not the opinion of colleagues, competitors or other “critics.”
“I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars — I look for 1-foot bars that I can step over.” – Warren Buffett
Buffet’s wisdom here is sound, particularly when it comes to goal setting and mile markers. Consistent growth comes from taking a series of actionable steps, not from a few drastic leaps.
“There are two ways to extend a business. Take inventory of what you're good at and extend out from your skills. Or determine what your customers need and work backward, even if it requires learning new skills.” –Jeff Bezos
Bezos’ words basically speak for themselves. My only input: Between these two paths, you’ll be happier as a person with the first option. Find what you’re good at and lean into it.
Growing a successful law firm requires more than a keen knowledge of the law—as lawyers, that’s to be expected. Successful law firms require business skills, and to that end, we can help. Give us a call at (888) 207-2869.