Building Your Team & Lending Your Reputation
For the sake of discussion, let us say that you have accepted that you have built a business that needs more than your set of strengths. And that you have focused on what you do better than anyone else. If so, then you should easily be able to outline the responsibilities that are aligned with your strengths, and the responsibilities that are not. Armed with that knowledge, the following are steps for building the team that will take care of the areas outside of your focus:
Let’s use a law firm as an example:
Using the “2018 Legal Trends Report” as a template, up to 5.6 hours a day is being spent by attorneys away from revenue generating practice.
If an attorneys practice is where her strengths are, then that is a lot of time working on things that she is not great at.
5.6 hours over a 20-work day month equals 112 hours. If she is billing at only $150 per hour and she could utilize just 56 of those 112 hours towards working on billable matters, that is a loss of $8,400 in billable time during that 20-day period or just over $100,000 for the year.
That is a lot of lost opportunity.
Eventually all of that “dedication” took it tolls. I ended up tired, angry, and tired (if you’ve been there, you know that feeling). I asked the question, “what if instead of giving my all my life and energy to the firm, I built something that sustained my life as I wanted to live it?” That was the question that started me on the journey of building my team.
It is easier to allow ourselves to be run by our businesses, than to tame the beast and run our businesses. Answering the question of what you really want for yourself personally has value beyond a dollar figure.
You can start with some of your team being virtual or independent contractors—just make sure to comply with all of your industries ethical and privacy concerns. You can budget their time, avoid increased fixed overhead, and even pass on the cost to your consumers.
Some of your team may need to be in-house, to create stability in your work process or consumer relationships. Just be aware of all of the fixed costs you will incur and be smart about putting your team in a position that is aligned with their strengths, so they generate the greatest return on invest for your business.
Regardless of how you proceed, make sure you can pay for your team through your current revenue stream, then grow your revenue through the extra time you now have.
If you aren’t experienced in the vetting and hiring processes, you will find yourself gaining experience in the firing process.
Having someone filter a pool of applicants for you will save you time, keep you from making an emotional decision, and provide an extra layer of scrutiny of your potential team member.
Plus a headhunter who works for you can help you structure a competitive compensation package that will help you find individuals who are already skilled—reducing your training time.
If you are hiring a contractor take the time to call all of their references and check out all of the comments on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. This is your business, be confident in who you are inviting into it.
Training time is another reason why you want to get someone who is experienced in the hiring process. There is nothing more frustrating than training new team members over and over again for the same position because the previous person wasn’t a good fit.
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I recently had a conversation with an attorney looking to grow her practice. One of the issues she has is that while she had a great reputation as a litigator, she was increasingly less and less happy with having to go to court. She found it draining and that it took time away from the things that were most important to her.
She had put in the time and built a reputation that was driving more work to her, but more work inevitably meant more time in court. I sympathized - as a negotiator and transactional attorney, going to court is not my jam. For her the issue was not one of litigation being outside of her competencies, but that it was something that was not bringing her personal satisfaction. So much so, she was contemplating unbundling her services so she would not have to go to court anymore.
I recommended that she evaluate hiring an associate that is energized by being in court. While she might find going to court draining, there are attorneys that find it invigorating--I know, I am shocked by that too. She is in a great position where she can now leverage her time and experience by lending her reputation and clout to an associate that is energized in an area that she is not anymore.
By bringing in someone with complementary strengths, she is focusing on where she has the greatest impact, generates the greatest value, and derives the most satisfaction. She is also providing the client with someone energized by their matter at every step in the case and creating capacity for her to meet with the new clients her reputation was generating.
We have all built, or are building, a reputation that is garnering respect and, most importantly, new clients and customers. Continuing to build your business will mean finding people you can trust to lend your reputation to whose strengths are complimentary to yours.
As crazy as it sounds, there are people who get excited about everything from reconciliation of bank statements, to review of medical records, to negotiating the particulars of deals, to standing up in front of the court arguing with opposing counsel. You don’t have to be everyman or everywoman to your business. You just need to be the one focused on pushing that domino, bicycle, fly wheel from a place of strength.
When it comes to investing in a team, sometimes the cost is monetary, and the benefit is peace of mind. So, when it comes to investing in your team, the question is, can you afford not to?