Swing Low: How Comfort Promotes Stagnation

Almost every solo lawyer or small firm manager could stand to sharpen her business management skills. Some don’t know what they don’t know — I mean, how many years have we been talking about law schools needing to produce more business-ready/business-capable attorneys?  Others, however, who do recognize that there are flaws in their business development plan, just don’t know how to rectify the situation — they just don’t have the knowledge of the tools and options.  There is also a third class of attorney entrepreneur: those who have learned of, or who can formulate, solutions, but choose not to.

Now, you may be thinking: ‘That seems odd, I always figured that one of the best parts of being an entrepreneur was the ability to stay creative, to keep improving’.  Yeah, I thought that, too.  But, I still run into lots of solo lawyers and small firm managers who hug the status quo like their best thunder buddy.  ‘Yeah but this works’, is what they tell me.  Sure, it probably does work.  If you’re diligent, you can manage your finances using Excel spreadsheets: granted.  But, the question should not be ‘Does it work’; the question should always be ‘How can I get this to work better’.  How do you become continually more efficient?  How do you constantly improve?

What those lawyers are really saying is that they are comfortable with their current systems, and that they don’t want to change.  They don’t explicitly say that because they understand that comfort is not a viable excuse.  Running a business, in fact, represents a consistent state of discomfort.  You’re always worried about the next client, the next project — and, that drives you forward.

Process and systems improvement should be at the forefront of every business manager’s mind.  It is a never-ending obligation, and one that should be undertaken, even if it sometimes drives you out of your comfort zone.

Consider the competitive disadvantage that you place yourself under when you don’t accept the burden of improvement.  Sure, you can continue to manage your finances using Excel, rather than through an accounting program or a law practice management system.  Riding chariots into battle in ancient Egypt was pretty sweet; but, if a military commander today decided that that he was comfortable using chariots in battle . . . well, your country just got dusted by Lichtenstein’s army.  Just because you can use a chariot, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t opt for a tank — even if you have to take some time to learn how to drive it.

If you don’t place yourself out of your comfort zone, to regularly improve your business systems, you’re playing with chariots of fire.

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Liner Notes

To Be Without You’ by Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams took his foot off the gas a bit, got a little less prolific, and produced a gem of an album, in ‘Prisoner’.

This is my favorite track; but, you should listen to the whole album.

I mean, you can never get enough Ryan Adams.