The majority of our clients are either attorneys or doctors, and let’s face it, this can mean that they simply haven’t been given the tools to be successful entrepreneurs. In fact, most of these professionals wouldn’t identify themselves as such, even though that’s exactly what they are. But if you are one of these physicians or attorneys, you need to realize that you are not just a “lawyer” or “doctor.” You are a business owner, and if you haven’t been thinking like one, you’d better start.
This means that if you know how to fix a broken knee or write a divorce petition—but not make the most of your practice—you need to change your approach, and I want to help. I want to give you the tools that highly successful entrepreneurs use, every day, to improve their businesses and make money: the kind of money that allows them to take vacations with their families, to finally realize the dreams they had when they got their license and struck out on their own.
For a better tomorrow, here are four habits of successful entrepreneurs that you can and should implement today:
#1. Look for Ways to Outsource
I don’t mean move your work out of the country, I mean out of your office, out of the box. Let’s say that you want a marketing person, but you don’t think you can afford to hire a full-time employee. Have you thought about hiring a part-time employee? Someone with the skills you need, who can and will work as little or as much as you actually need them?
Here at FWM we have had much success with hiring people, particularly women, who have young families and want to work, but don’t necessarily want to work full-time. These are highly skilled, talented people who can work from home, on their time, or part-time in the office. This costs less than hiring a full-time employee, and in our case, has resulted in retaining some of the best marketing people in the business—all from thinking outside of the box.
Tip: To make sure you’re on the right track, ask yourself this before you hire anyone: Is there a way to outsource routine work? Do I really have to hire a full-time employee?
#2. Know Your Numbers
If you’re not paying attention to numbers, what are you in business for? Why do you want to make money?
If your goal is to have a successful practice, you have to pay attention to the business of business. That’s what successful entrepreneurs do. They know exactly where every dollar goes. They track what comes in and what goes out, and on a regular basis evaluate these numbers and make decisions.
To achieve success you’ll need to track carefully as well, asking yourself questions such as how much you’re paying for Internet, phone, rent, utilities, paper supplies, lunches, and every other expense you incur. It’s easy to lose control of this, to say, “Well, it’s just $50, not a big deal.” But that $50 is a big deal, because if you let it slide, chances are you’re letting other expense fly under your radar—a terrible, bank-busting habit.
Tip: If you have some expenses on auto-pay, it’s time to look these accounts over. Most of the time you don’t even think about these expenses unless they go over a certain amount, but this is a mistake. So ask questions and make decisions. Do you really need to pay $100 a month for paper, or have you just let that account run, unchecked, for months?
#3. Embrace IT
Successful entrepreneurs have learned to embrace information technology. They use it to their advantage, and take the steps needed to protect their information—which is, largely, to protect their customers. Our clients learn nuances of the law or medicine, but they often don’t pay attention to the nuances, or even the basic tenets, of IT.
Of course, you have integrated information processing throughout your business. Most of the time, you pay it no mind because it’s working smoothly and seamlessly. Perhaps, in your office, IT automates how you take in cases, process clients, and send out marketing materials.
But what many business managers—perhaps even you—forget about is protecting their data. On a regular basis, lawyers and doctors get hacked. Their entire collection of client or patient files may be appropriated or exposed, creating a huge liability.
Every day, lawyers and doctors come to us with client lists choked with spam and malware clogging their computers. What’s happened is that they haven’t been paying attention to detail, and they’ve neglected to implement even the most basic IT security. To be successful you need to be aware not only of how IT can make your life easier, but how it can protect the rights of your clients or patients.
Tip: Run malware and security checks on all of your computers on a regular basis. If you aren’t tech savvy, hire someone (using #1 above) to do it for you. You can’t afford not to!
#4. Trust, But Verify
Successful entrepreneurs know that if they’re going to remain successful, they have to hire people they trust and then verify this trust. While I encourage you to think outside the box—to consider a less expensive way to get essential work done—you also need to hire with the culture of your office in mind. If you don’t, if you hire a guy because he’s cheap and not because you believe him to be the best fit for your office, you’re going to quickly burn though gobs of time and money.
And once you have this person on board, a person you trust, you can’t simply leave him to his own devices. If you hire a receptionist, you need to trust that she isn’t turning off potential clients by answering the phone in a rude way. You also need to verify this trust. Consider installing a recording system on your office phone, and ask others in the office to listen in to ensure she’s doing all she can to help your business grow. As I like to say, “Very few things in life are what you expect, and you can only expect what you inspect.”
Tip: This trust-but-verify principle should apply to everyone you hire. From your junior partner, to your paralegal, to your marketing guy, you need to drill in, on a regular basis, to ensure that they are performing as they should be—that you are getting your money’s worth. If you don’t, you could be throwing away hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month. Most business cannot afford to lose that kind of money, and I’m betting your firm is no exception.
Your Practice Can Be a Success Story
But you have to do the work required to make your story, your dreams, come true. If you’d like to know more about the services we offer, from SEO to video to good old fashioned business advice, call 888-886-0939 today. We would love to sit down and help you become a successful business owner.