In today’s times of uncertainty, many businesses are struggling wondering when they’re going to open, how they’re going to keep necessary staff on the payroll, laying off people, and even going bankrupt, you may wonder how it is that some businesses seem to be thriving. While there is no one answer to that question, one thing you can do to ensure your business survives and grows is to identify and protect the core of your business.
What is the core of your business? Well, that will depend on a number of factors. For the small town general practice lawyer, it might be the key clients who are the main business-people of the town or a particular practice area that is both lucrative and enjoyable. It might be your insurance defense contract that pays most of the bills or a steady stream of closings from your favorite real estate agent. Spend some time thinking about what the core of your business is.
Next, identify how important that core is to your business. Quantify the volume of income that your firm generates from this core business. This will give you a clear picture of whether you’ve correctly identified the core and exactly how important it is to the survival of your law firm. You may need to broaden your definition of the core or you may realize how much your business has strayed from what you thought was important. In many cases, the core of your business should represent about 80% of your income.
Once you’ve confirmed that you’ve correctly identified the core work that you do, think about what steps you could take to strengthen your operations. You may consider cross-training your team so that business can continue even if someone is out for a few weeks with the coronavirus. You may want to automate portions of your operations where you’re performing the same tasks again and again using templates or software to make your life easier. You may be able to outsource portions of the work so that you can focus on the value-add for your clients. Or you may look at ways to handle the parts of your work that you don’t enjoy, such as finding new ways to keep your clients in the loop.
Once you’re ready to take on more work, think of creative new ways to advertise to your core clients. This will look different depending for each firm, from running ads in the local family magazines to targeted SEO campaigns to Facebook marketing. It might look like sponsoring virtual events, making branded facemasks, volunteering for a particular organization, or simply writing letters of appreciation.
For most people, once they know where to focus their efforts to protect their business and grow, the next steps become obvious. Financial records can be an obvious way to identify your core, but there are some firms where it isn’t that easy, either do to the size and breadth of their practice or because of the changing nature of their projects. In these cases, there is some trait that attracts people to you. It may be your particular expertise in a unique area of law such as aviation law or your ability to negotiate complicated settlements in large cases with lots of stakeholders.
Identifying your core business here can take more work, but once you know, protect, and advertise that core, then your business stands on solid feet and can grow.