When I first started out in my law practice, I never imagined I would invest money in its growth.
I had this idea that I would just generate the revenue I needed to cover my pay and rent. I didn’t imagine I would have a team, or even really my own office… not in the beginning.
A computer, a used desk, rented office space from another firm in town (that I traded my time in exchange for the rent so I didn’t even have to pay out of pocket), some office supplies and I was IN business!
Quickly though, I realized that if I wanted to grow and be able to experience the promise of freedom that led me to leave the security of my 6-figure paycheck and start my own law practice, I’d have to find the money to invest in things I couldn’t yet afford out of revenue.
At first, that came from my dad.
He loaned me $25,000 and I used it to hire a business coach and then my very first team member. The two best investments I could have made.
The business coach gave me a whole new vision of what my practice could look like and the courage to make it happen.
The team member helped me expand so I didn’t have to do everything myself, could focus more energy on marketing than on answering my phones and the quick questions that kept me feeling busy but not moving forward and nearly ten years later, she still works with me, today helping to train the team members of the lawyers in our Personal Family Lawyer®, Creative Business Lawyer™, and Family Business Lawyer™ programs.
From there, I began to get the vision of something bigger, more meaningful, more impactful and that would provide me with a lot more freedom.
With the help of my coach and my first team member, I was able to get a pretty steady flow of clients coming in and engaging my services. Now, I had consistent, predictable revenue and my creativity began to come online.
I passed by a well known landmark home in our community and I knew I wanted to have my practice there. In fact, I knew I would.
One day I’ll tell you the story of how it came about that I did move my office into that home, but for now, suffice it to say that within a year, I had renovated the carriage house — from no walls, no floors, no ceilings (really just a garage) — into the most gorgeous law office you’ve likely seen.
I couldn’t do that out of revenue. I had to invest.
When I made the commitment to renovate the building, I didn’t have the investment capital to do that. I didn’t have the revenue to do it. All I had was the vision and the trust that because I wanted it badly enough, it would happen.
Within a short time, I met a local banker, shared my vision with him and he helped me apply for my first loan.
It wasn’t much. Just $50,000. Within a year, I had upped it to $100,000 because I wanted to make even more investments in my practice.
I quickly saw that I couldn’t get better returns anywhere else and the interest rate was small enough that the payments were well worth being able to have the capital to put into marketing, decorating the office, getting a fancy full color laser printer for printing out marketing materials and estate plan diagrams, and hiring a consultant to graphically design my fee quoting system, etc.
Within a year, I was making more than $500,000 per year.
I discovered I could finance equipment for my office and invested in a complex phone system and on-site server and network, to the tune of $25,000. Worst investment ever. Today, with VOIP systems and the Cloud, neither of those things is needed.
Despite that one bad investment, my firm grew to more than $1,000,000 a year in revenue.
The best part was that the year after that happened, I did it again, but that time I had staffed my firm so well and created enough systems that I only had to go into the office 2-3 days per week.
My investments paid off. Within 4 years of opening the doors to my law practice, I had a thriving business I could count on.
That’s why you want to invest in your law practice.
Now, I’m not saying you want a million dollar practice… Maybe you’d be happy to stop at the $500,000 level that I got to after the first year of investing in my practice.
That’s a great place to be. You can operate that size practice with just you and a couple of staff members.
But, not without investing in growing a business.
So, if you are spinning your wheels, feeling stuck, wondering how to get out of the overwhelm and into the joy of practice, look at where you might be shutting yourself down because your fear of investing in your most valuable asset, yourself.
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Start 2014 with a firm foot towards success and…
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