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More Lawyerly Lessons: From '$0 to $1,000,000 in 2 Years' (Part II)

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

It’s the American Dream, baby! No, not the unreleased Mike Jones (Who?) album, but the actual dream. Put your work in. Do it better, and cheaper, than the next guy. Grow your business. Reap rewards in proportion to effort expended.

Yesterday, we brought you the take of Bryan Johnson, a manager at Sears turned millionaire start-up credit card processor to the cyber-stars (such as AirBnB, OpenTable, and Uber). He made the change in two years, and author, investor, and entrepreneur James Altucher devised a number of rules based off his interview of the money-processing mogul.

Of course, you're not starting a start-up - you're starting (or running) a law firm. Business is business folks, and the advice is equally applicable to the legal industry. Yesterday, you got the first three pieces of wisdom, reframed for the legal context. Here are four more:

Rule No. 4: Build Trust While You Sleep. You may sleep, but the Internet never does. Johnson followed a friend's advice and began to blog. In an unfiltered, transparent voice, he detailed the dirty practices of the credit card processing industry, including how small business owners were getting squeezed. His posts resonated with readers and even hit the top of a few social media sites, like Reddit. This built trust. Trust built clients.

Rule No. 5: Blogging is Not About Money. Bloggers often talk about monetizing their blogs, getting sponsors and advertisers, and if all goes well, maybe even a book deal, but that nearly never happens. Blogging is about demonstrating that you know your field and about educating your potential clients.

Rule No. 6: Say YES! This isn't exactly the same for us lawyers. Because of his blog, Johnson was approached by OpenTable about developing a software solution to handle storing credit cards. He had no experience in doing so, yet he said yes, and hired people to do it for him. It opened up a whole new field of clients.

Sound familiar? If you've got the time to get competent in a new field, and a client wants to hire you, by all means, do so. Don't jump into a field with an incredibly complex first case, however. We have to worry about malpractice, bar discipline, etc. Start-ups only have to worry about insolvency.

Rule No. 7: Customer Service. For Johnson, it was all about avoiding others' customer service foibles, from long hold times, to those unfathomably useless automated systems. ("Please tell me why you're calling. Did you say orangutan? Please try again.").

For lawyers, it's more of a matter of availability and quick response to clients' inquiries. If they call, call back that day (if possible). If they email, email back within an hour (or have your receptionist send a "we'll get back to you" response). There's nothing more frustrating than waiting a week for a response from your lawyer about a matter you consider life-or-death. And every client thinks their matter is life and death, don't they?

Good luck with the new rules -- and let us know how you do!

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