The Unexpected Consequences of Your Law Firm’s Success
Most solo and small practitioners work hard each and every day to create and build a practice that will support their personal hopes and ambitions. I think we can all agree that creating and building your practice requires an immense amount of time and energy. If you are anything like I am, you have spent countless hours daydreaming about what that end result may actually look like one day. However, I see all too often that great lawyers with ingenious business plans get caught in the trap of their own success.
Andrew Grove, one of the founders of Intel, the microprocessor/semiconductor company, believed that success and working toward an end goal in business meant that you were headed for failure. Grove was once quoted saying, “business success contains the seeds of its own destruction.” He explained and expounded upon this idea in his book “Only the Paranoid Survive” in that “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”
Now I am certainly not trying to advocate that you should abandon any and all goals you have for your practice, but rather that you should be prepared to aim to build your business in light of every circumstance that you may confront. For example, if you experience unparalleled growth in your third year of business, should you sit back and count your money and hope that things remain the same? Definitely not!
I would be lying if I did not admit that I made this mistake early on in my practice. Our second and third full year of business saw a significant growth in several new practice areas. Unfortunately my approach was to blindly grasp the reigns and try to maintain what I had stumbled upon. Naturally, this was a mistake. Instead of exploring new ways to continue our assent, I clung to what had worked previously. As always, the laws of diminishing returns decided that outcome and our fourth year of business saw growth but nothing like we had previously seen.
I learned later that after success, any experienced business owner should seek to surge his or her team forward and explore new techniques, approaches, channels and clientele.
Understanding that complacency after success can often lead to failure is the first step in ensuring that your law firm is better prepared for the future. The difference between your success and failure can oftentimes rest with a single decision. Knowing how to plan for success is as important as fighting to keep your law firm going.
As such, I, along with my team, undertake a quarterly review of the law firm’s finances and track records compared to our goals and expected revenues for that financial quarter. If we are falling short of our goals, it is obvious that we need to review those goals. However, the exact opposite is true. If we are reaching or exceeding our revenue goals, it is obvious that we need to sit down and review those same goals.
Take a moment to evaluate your goals and the success of your law firm today.
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h