Have many of us feel like we are living in an alternate reality? With national shelter-in-place orders in place now for over a month with little information available on resuming business in the new normal (whatever that may look like), lawyers must consider pivoting how they operate their businesses in today’s sub-normal climate.
Below are seven pragmatic steps you can take to effectively navigate these uncharted waters (how many of us has ever lived through a pandemic before?) to maintain serving your existing clients, increase visibility and relevancy in your network and emerge stronger as a result.
Spoiler alert: Similar to other proven business methodologies, there are no magic bullets or shortcuts outlined below but rather actionable steps you can take today to effective pivot multiple aspects of your business.
#1 Pivot Your Attention
Considering the non-stop uber sensationalized news media, 24/7/365 digital world in which we all live, it has never been more critical to monitor where you are focusing your attention. For some, the news channels play in the background all day long and you consistently check “breaking news” online. Stop it. Leading psychiatrists have shown us the neurological impact of too much negative information, which the news cycles are all about, leads to greater anxiety, stress and depression. The brain is not equipped to absorb and process all the negativity. In fact, the U.S. National Institute of Health recently issued a warning alert in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. Nothing is changing quickly amidst the pandemic and you will learn, inadvertently, what you need to know by checking news once or twice a day.
#2 Pivot Your Health
First, you must stay healthy, for you and your family. During this wacky time, ensure that you are taking extra steps to get enough rest, eat balanced meals, engage in moderate exercise and take other self-care measures to manage the inherent stress and anxiety that comes along with working from home (if you not accustomed to doing so), home-schooling children, being confined and other abnormal living conditions.
To this end, I have provided a Pivot Your Business Resource Guide with numerous useful links.
We know that our physical and mental health is linked, inextricably. Struggling in either area can adversely affect how you show up for your clients, colleagues, subordinates and yourself. Conversely, maintaining your long-term physical and mental health wellness boosts your ability to show up more positively and creatively in your business.
Focusing on increasing your immune system proves to be a worthwhile goal as we know that maintaining a high immune system protects us from illness and disease. Watching what we eat now is critical to support wellness when we need it most. (A list of immune boosting foods is provided in the Resource Guide).
The quality of your thinking is predicated upon the quality of your body’s organs which stems from the health of your blood, which is directly affected by the quality of the food you intake. Choose carefully.
#3 Pivot Your Mindset
Now more than ever, how we think about our business and, by extension, our lives is likely more impactful than whatever chaos may be swirling around us. You should ask yourself not if you could do business in the current climate but how you can do business. Dwelling on the “what if” of the situation not only compromises your immune system but also takes you to a negative mind space that is not conducive to pivoting and effectively navigating your way through this trying time.
Our success and that of our business is dependent upon finding meaning in our work. Pause to consider how you can leverage this obstacle (CV), as tragic as it is, to the greatest advantage for your business. Consider “what if” from a positive perspective, this powerful global pause is part of a grander plan for greater profit, for greater impact and, ultimately, greater success. How does that sound?
Today, scientists know that everything found in this universe is comprised of energy. This speaks for both physical things and non-physical things, like thoughts. What you think about, you bring about. What you focus on, expands and will be attracted to you. (Reference: The Law of Attraction defined).
During this time, it is imperative that we raise our energetic vibration to help shift our mindset from scarcity to abundance and positivity. Taking 10 minutes several times a day to meditate, sit in silence to quiet our minds, creating and repeating positive affirmations (reference: Develop Good Habits), even journaling what you are grateful for during this period (there is positive there, I promise), can help position our mindset into a positive space to support pivoting our business. It directly influences how we show up for our clients, team members, and network, not to mention our loved ones.
Remember, people have not stopped doing business, they have just changed how they are conducting business and living, for now. It is essential to show up positively and boldly and practicing a growth mindset will enable that to happen.
#4 Pivot Your Accountability
With many business professionals’ lifestyles completely upended as a result of the CV era, many don’t even track what day it is anymore as one day drifts into the next, as individuals and families shelter in place. That’s one of the reasons why you want to identify and invite an accountability partner to offer incremental friendly nudges to help you stay on task with your client service offerings, team management and business development efforts in an otherwise chaotic situation.
While you may not consider now a favorable climate to attract new work, if you hold yourself to a schedule and reasonable deadlines, this wonky time could be a boon for your business. When you schedule quick check-ins, daily or regularly with your accountability partner, you are much more likely to keep yourself and your business moving forward. And, as a residual benefit, you benefit from the connection and friendly voice and/or face.
#5 Pivot Your Resources
When we consider our resources — time, finances and talent, there is great opportunity, especially if you view them through the lens of abundance, not scarcity.
Steps you can take to pivot your resources includes finding the cash in your business. Cash flow may have slowed, client receivables are down yet your payables are constant. In times like these, everything is negotiable. Reach out to clients who have outstanding receivables. Negotiate for faster payments…payment plans, extending a courtesy discount for remitting a balance due. Make it easy for clients and others to pay you, to increase cash flow.
On the other end of the equation, assess your payable and reach out to creditors for financial consideration. Request payment deferments for several months to ease the financial burden for now. We are in this altogether; many creditors will be obliged to extend payments until a more favorable business environment emerges.
A third step to pivot your resources includes making a list of the low-hanging fruit in your business. Review your top client list. Assess the status of the services you either are providing to them presently or have in the immediate past. Then, retrace your steps. At the very least, reach out to these clients out of concern for their well-being. In the course of the conversation, broach the topic of the status of their business, whether there are similar projects planned or services needed in the near future. You want to over service your clients now for greater impact, now and/or later. This is another area where showing up boldly is critical.
Along with pivoting your finances, you want to pivot your time, tenaciously. If you are anything like me, I have never experienced such a powerful pause across the globe as we are now experiencing. First, recognize the greater meaning in this confluence of circumstances such that you are afforded the time to work on your business perhaps more than you are working in your business. The time is absolutely ripe now for planting seeds of business growth for harvesting as the crisis subsides. What does this look like?
- Strategize now on the best use of your “more time.” Focus on the highest priorities that will have the greatest impact in the coming weeks/months ahead.
- Now is the perfect time to focus on what we refer to as “EGAs” — exponential growth activities. Undertake the “big” projects now —overhauling and/or updating internal business systems/processes. Creating and updating, once and for all, a contact management system can be a most powerful tool for getting and staying connected with your growing network (clients, referral sources, professional contacts, prospects, etc.).
If you ever intended to publish a book, what better time than now to initiate that process? Outline the book concept, identify a publisher, conduct your research then write. Publishing can be one of the highest impact marketing techniques in your wheelhouse for demonstrating expertise and thought leadership in your area(s) of legal and/or business acumen.
Now is the time to hunker down to create and expand your mind. One of the greatest lessons I believe we are all learning as a result of the CV era is how much technology impacts us now and will continue to greatly impact our professional lives moving forward. I don’t know about you but some days I am completely “Zoomed out” from all the video conferences on which I either facilitate or participate. Denying or shying away from learning and adapting to new technologies could be a death knell to a business. Take advantage of the time now to hop on board and learn what you have been resisting.
Social media – what we are seeing here is yet another compelling reason to jump on LinkedIn and build your online network. No, having an online network will never replace in-person connections nor was it intended to however there are super powers on LinkedIn, if you choose to learn and leverage them. As a longtime LinkedIn user and facilitator, I demonstrate to lawyers across the globe regularly how to build and grow a targeted network and leverage it for new business and connections. Moreover, with 650,000,000 verified Linkedin users, the opportunities are endless to demonstrate your expertise, offer thought leadership in front of specific industry groups and to attract new clients. So many of your competitors are in full-blown LinkedIn mode. If you are receptive to learning, now is the perfect time.
#6 Pivot Your Outreach
Given that we are unable to gather in person, presently, connecting virtually with clients, our team and our network, at large, has never been as critical as it is now.
With client retention and attraction at the forefront, we must reach out with a multi-touch approach (via email, telephone, eblasts, social media posts, etc.) to get and stay connected. I recommend reviewing your contact lists of those individuals with whom you have had discussions of doing business together but whom have yet to retain you. Review the list and reach out those individuals, with a service mindset. How can you be of service and/or resource to them? How can you support them and/or their business? Can you make a connection from your network that would be useful for them? Think creatively as you reach out and consider what would be valuable connection.
Staying visible now and showing up boldly will differentiate you and your business from those of your competitors. Not only is it the right thing to do for your clients, but others in your network will be grateful for your concern and support and it will pay dividends when the CV era has subsided.
Consider how you can be most relevant to “your peeps” now. In the course of reaching out to your closest clients and network, pose the question ‘how can I help”? Relevancy is key.
Examine potential business growth opportunities that you may not have considered seriously in the past. Is there a potential rising star whom is well poised to join your firm or connect as a strategic alliance? Are there collaborations among your colleagues that could work to boost your respective businesses?
In all these outreach efforts, remember that the day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit. Reach out consistently, not in a “one and done” fashion.
#7 Pivot Your Business Model
Sheltering in place has thrust many business owners and lawyers into an uncomfortable and unfamiliar work environment. For those whom are adapting well and course correcting, I applaud you. It can be a huge leap to make, technologically, to conduct business so dramatically differently than you are accustomed to.
Potential teaching moment: consider how to shift a piece or all of your business model online – perhaps the intake (to replace in-person client meetings). How can you do business online in this climate? Could you assemble practical information from your deep knowledge bank and create an online course? Could you train the trainer in your clients’ businesses?
In most legal services, there are plenty of resources that you could shift online to create systems that meet a need, now. Creativity is the challenge. Not so much the “what” as the “how.”
Show Up Boldly, Now
Disruption breeds context and fertile soil for innovation and creation. We are living in a very disruptive time, in so many ways.
To show up boldly now is to demonstrate thought leadership via uploading, sharing, contributing, direct messaging timely, topical and relevant content via eblasts and across all communication platforms. Print and digital publications are hurting for content. Reach out to contribute wherein you will appear in front of your targeted audiences.
Leverage Zoom technology to get and stay connected with your targeted audiences. Collaborate with colleagues and other subject matter experts to offer online programming, workshops, LinkedIn Live Q&A on our areas of practice focus. The possibilities are endless.
“If it is to be, it is up to me”. Yes, living in the CV era presents many uncertainties. So many are suffering and too many, tragically, are passing on from it. Yet, you are still here. Every day that you are not ill, you have another opportunity to show up boldly for your business, your clients, your team, your network, for yourself.
How you choose to pivot now, will directly impact how you grow, or not, later. The choice is yours.
Best wishes for great health and well-being.