Do you really want more clients?

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It seems obvious that growing your practice means you want to bring in new clients and new business, right? Without the consistent flow of new business, practices not only don’t grow: they die.

However, you might be surprised to learn that I not infrequently talk with lawyers who say they want to grow a practice, when deep down, they don’t want new business or new clients. That’s a conflict that will undermine your business development efforts every single time. And it’s especially corrosive because until the beliefs that keep the lawyer from wanting new business are uncovered, the failure just looks like inability to secure new work.

Why might a lawyer not want new business? A few examples:

  • the belief that clients are not being effectively served by the practice (this is especially common when a lawyer is considering a lateral move because of some philosophical objection to how the firm conducts its or its clients’ business)
  • feeling too busy as is and reluctant to open a flow of additional work, even though you rationally understand that busy will be replaced by bored if you don’t create a pipeline of work
  • working with clients you dislike, whether it’s because they’re inappropriately demanding or because you dislike the substantive work (who would intentionally set themselves up for more of what they dislike?)

Each of these reasons to avoid new business is likely unconscious, and yet action is governed by unconscious beliefs far more than we’d like to accept. 

The article The Uncomfortable Truth about Getting More Personal Training Clients describes the unconscious beliefs that run counter to the desire to get new clients as values conflicts, and it offers several steps to resolve those conflicts.

  1. Be honest about whether you’re facing a values conflict. Make the unconscious conscious–if it exists.
  2. Deal rationally with the values conflicts by answering the previously unconscious belief with what’s actually true. For example, recognize upsides to more business such as that having a steady pipeline of new work will allow you more control over which clients you work with, how you work with them, and so on.
  3. Establish clear boundaries for your clients and yourself. Put policies and systems in place so that you define how you will engage with your clients and how and when you will undertake business development activity.
  4. Invest in a marketing system. When you follow a system, you will automatically take steps toward new business without being controlled by values conflicts.

Sometimes we learn best by studying outside our own fields, and this article is a terrific example. Take a few minutes, translate from personal training to legal, and absorb the lessons.

Where are you stopping yourself?

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