Know Your Position When Playing the Game

It is human nature to always be searching for something better, the proverbial ‘grass is always greener on the other side’. We might have fooled ourselves into believing that a constant search for success is what will eventually get us there, but this mindset is what is limiting us in our businesses.

Basketball pro Bill Walton believed hyper focusing on your weaknesses does nothing but chew up time that could be spent sharpening your strengths. The truth is, there are just some things we aren’t good at, and we never will be. But there is a silver lining; there are things we are great at that other people aren’t. And it is these things we should be focusing on.

Stick with What You Know

So how do we do this? It is as simple as sticking with what you know, and really pushing yourself towards improvement in those areas. This was a lesson I learned the long and hard way, but when I finally realized I don’t have to be good at everything, I was really liberated. You have employees and coworkers for a reason! Each person has a set of unique skills and abilities, and like a puzzle, they can fill the gaps you can’t.

In the game of basketball, one person isn’t responsible for every position on the court. If so, there would be no game, it would be constant failure, especially when competing with teams who operate like a well-oiled machine. So, it’s silly to think different rules apply when it comes to our businesses.

Push yourself outside your comfort zone with your strengths. Be more than just “good” at your strengths… be great!  If you’re point guard, then be the best point guard you can be, and stop trying to master the role of playing the forward. You have what it takes to be successful, so start applying those skills!

Back Office Betties

Simplify Your Law Firm

Marie Kondo is on to something with her philosophy to discard anything and everything that does not “Spark Joy.”   It’s a very effective method for tidying up your house!  But, there is some real wisdom to her mantra that can be applied to every aspect of our lives, including in your law firm.

The ‘KonMari’ Method

Here is why Marie Kondo’s philosophy is life changing:

  • It’s simple and offers quick results.  In the ‘KonMari Method’ all tidying should be done comprehensively all at once so clutter can’t be pushed from one place to another. In our businesses when we start to declutter, whether that be literally or figuratively (getting rid of vendors who don’t serve you, employees who just aren’t working, etc.) it should be done all at once.  This is so messes don’t get piled somewhere else becoming a problem for a later date.

 

  • Teaches you to appreciate what you have. When you are in the decluttering process, you are made aware of all that you have creating a deeper sense of appreciation. It also impacts future behavior patterns. You become aware of what really works for you, and what doesn’t.
  • Sorting by category keeps you from being overwhelmed and disorganized. At times we have so much to declutter and toss out we have no idea where to start. With the KonMari Method, decluttering is done by category.  You do not move on to the next category until the one is finished. It teaches to take things one step at a time and to not get so far ahead of ourselves.

Spring is right around the corner, so in the spirit of regrowth, take time to see how you can declutter your life. Whether that be in personally or professionally… there’s always room positive change and personal growth!

Pruning Your Business

When you’ve invested so much time and energy into your business, it’s like having a garden full of rose bushes.  For your roses to flourish, you must give them the love and attention they need so they can grow and bloom.  Your business is like pruning a garden…. sometimes you need to prune the dead weight in your business.

Pruning for Success

If you are hesitant about pruning your business, or scared to step on a few toes, remember these things:

  • Pruning will make your business healthier. When a plant has overgrown and has unhealthy branches, it will become stressed. The plant then invests in precious resources to revive these dying branches. This pursuit can end up depriving the healthy limbs from getting the nutrients they need.  Consider not investing in resources to something that’s dying in your business!  Eliminate what isn’t useful before you end up compromising healthy functions within your business.
  • Pruning will make your business more appealing and organized. Nothing is more discouraging to potential consumers than a disorganized and chaotic business. Evaluate things like software that needs to be updated or replaced; or vendors that aren’t serving your business needs.
  • Pruning allows you to modify and shape your vision. Prune back so you can explore new territory, meet new demands, and reach new consumer markets – all aligning with your vision.
  • Prune so you have less of a mess to clean up later. The less time you spend cleaning up messes, the less you will have to manage, which means more time for you to focus on the direction of your business.

It’s never easy having to make the decision to do some pruning, but once you move forward with it, you will be so grateful you did.

 

 

What Are You Bad At?

Despite the things you may have heard, it is in fact okay for your firm to be bad at things. There is no such thing as perfection.  However, there is such thing as niche expertise, and that is where you should strive to be. For example, if you are focused on your clientele and you should have a strong understanding of your ‘dream’ client – the more you will be able to meet his/her needs.

What Walmart Knows…

Let’s use an example like the store Walmart for instance. Walmart knows exactly who they are catering to, and they are offering exactly what their customer base wants- affordable grocery and retail products.  It’s not a glamorous, upscale shopping experience…. and for them it doesn’t have to be!  If Walmart wanted to become a high-end retailer, they would not be able to do that and keep their prices low.  They cater to the budget-conscious consumer and are ok not serving the higher-end retail customer.  They have embraced their strengths, and they are dominating their niche because of it.

Our Niche

At Back Office Betties, we are a prime example as well!  Our ‘dream’ clients are small law firms.  We can provide a very specialized service to attorneys that need a virtual receptionist.  Lawyers want to help their clients win cases and they cannot focus on what’s important if they are constantly answering the phone.  We are the team that stands behind the scenes and takes care of phone tasks with our professional legal receptionists.  Because we identify what we are best at, we provide unparalleled service in our industry!

Find Your Niche

As you decide to develop you niche further, find out what your bad at first and eliminate that.  Then focus on what your firm is good at. What is your niche? Who is your dream client?  Just remember, you don’t need to please everyone!

What Makes You Different?

In order to be the obvious choice among your competitors there are a few things to consider.  Many law firms struggle with how to successfully stand out because they are competing with firms that offer the same services.  However, there are many ways you can break the status quo and offer one of a kind services to your clients.

Quick Tips

The following steps are the best way law firms can really connect to their clientele and increase client bookings:

Know your customer: Have a firm grasp of who your ideal client is (wants, needs, and expectations) and have tailored services for that person. Naturally, if you build your services around your dream client you will start attracting more of that client.

Identify your niche: What is your firm best at? Oppositely, where are your weak spots? Instead of getting hung up on perfection, focus on the areas you are good at and let go of some of the weak spots and those areas that aren’t in demand with your ideal client.

Meet their needs: Now that you know your dream client, identify their unmet needs and address them in the services you offer.

Build a team: Build a team that is a great culture fit for you and your firm. It’s imperative they understand your goals, needs, and that they work hard to make the firm reach its best potential.

Don’t be afraid to step outside of the box and really explore how you could be better serving your clients. These principles will make a world of difference for your firm and greatly improve your relationships with your clients.

 

If you are looking for a more in-depth analysis of each of these principles and how you can apply them then check out the Back Office Betties eBook  Stand Out: How to Be the Obvious Choice.

G.O.A.T.

When it comes to customer service, who better to learn from than the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) in customer service!  If you want to improve the customer service of your company, look to imitate brands that offer the customer experience you wish to provide. Whether it be the GOAT of Hospitality Horst Schulz of the Ritz Carlton or the GOAT of Culture Tony Hsieh of Zappos; there are so many great entrepreneurs who have paved the way for excellent customer service for us to follow. The best way to start is by identifying where your weak spots are as a company and figure out how you can begin improving upon them using other companies who are successful in these areas as molds.

Superior Service

Here are some basic things that the GOATs are doing to make their customer experiences superior:

 

  • Having a core commitment to your employees and your customers. If you make the focus of your company to create an environment of belonging and purpose, then employees can deliver superior customer service. Horst Schulz has created a process called, “Continuous Process Improvement” which has become highly effective and duplicated with many companies.

 

 

  • Making personal customer service interactions an easy option. Truett Cathy, GOAT of Fast Food, goes by the philosophy that customers are always wanting someone who is reliable and will take care of their needs.

 

 

 

 

  • Hiring people who care about customer service and company values. Tony Hsieh, GOAT of Culture, focuses on investing back into customer experience.  Rather than spending on paid advertising, he believes that the customer will do the marketing for them if they have supplied amazing customer experience.

 

 

 

  • Predicting you customer’s needs. If your goal is to really learn your customer, pay attention to them and their needs. GOAT of Customer Experience, John DiJulius, believes that customer experiences are built on the ability to recognize opportunities to exceed customers’ expectations regardless of the circumstances.

 

Of course, there are so many different customer service strategies you can steal from the GOATs out there, so it us up to you to know where you need the most improvement.  Customer experience is on trend and now is the time to refine your philosophy within your company.

5 Things I Learned From Verne

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a Verne Harnish talk. Verne Harnish is the Founder of the global business network Entrepreneur’s Organization. He is the Venture Columnist for Fortune Magazine, and he’s the author of the bestseller Mastering the Rockefeller Habits. His latest book Scaling Up has also been very successful winning seven major international book awards including the prestigious 2015 International Book Award for Best General Business book.  And these are just a few of his many major accomplishments! Verne has spent the last 30 years using his expertise to help companies improve.

What I Learned

Attending this talk had me asking myself some important questions that I believe all businesses should be asking themselves if they are looking to ‘scale up’.  Here are 5 things that I learned:

  1. Honestly ask yourself where you get your energy. These are the tasks you should focus on and delegate or automate the rest.
  2. Start thinking about Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is here to stay and companies already using AI today will be the ones to stand out tomorrow. Think about various aspects of your business. What are some ways you predict AI will save you time and/or money?
  3. What 25 relationships do you need to achieve your business goals? Write down names and go seek those relationships and nurture them regularly.
  4. Every business should have a guarantee. Exadata’s great example is 5x faster than IBM or we give you $10,000,000. Domino’s is 30 minutes or it’s free. What can you guarantee your clients?
  5. Are you familiar with the 7/70 Rule? Go after 7% of a market segment and then dominate 70% of that market. For example, Ikea is only 6% of the furniture market but owns over 70% of the ready to assemble niche. Start researching how you can get your business there.

Looking at the bigger picture in this way will help you rearrange your business’ goals so that you are not just planning to improve or expand, but also analyzing how you can be ahead of competition and dominate your industry.

Book Bundle

In addition to Harnish’s own publishing’s, he recommends a Book Bundle List to encompass all aspects of your business.  These recommendations are his top book pics that will help you take your business to the next level!

  • Relationship Marketing by Regis McKenna
  • Am I Being Too Subtle by Sam Zell
  • The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki
  • Teeming by Tamsin Woolley-Barker
  • Outrageous Empowerment by Ron Lovett
  • Uncommon Service by Frances Frei
  • The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt
  • The Customer-Funded Business by John Mullins

Don’t be afraid to have bold goals and big dreams! With the right steps and planning, anything is possible for you and your business!

Emily @ Back Office Betties

 

Know Your Numbers

Adopting methods to measure success is necessary for any company that wants to maintain its competitive advantage. Although that may seem common sense, pin pointing which areas need the most focus requires strategy. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are “measurable values that demonstrate how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives”. They can be applied on a large scale to assess company-wide performance, or they can be applied to specific departments. Understanding how and where to apply KPIs is the most important part of the implementation process. It can be detrimental if a KPI is incorrectly applied or applied to the wrong department. The goal of these metrics is to gauge the performance of the most germane criteria for your business.

Be SMART About Your Goals

To ensure your KPIs will be accurate measurements of success use SMART:

Specific: Are your company goals specific?

Measurable: Can you measure your success in these goals? Do you know what you want the outcome to be? How do you know you have achieved your goal?

Attainable: Are your goals realistic? How often will you need to analyze progress?

Relevant: Are your goals relevant to the products or services you offer? Why are these goals important?

Time-frame: What is the time-frame for achieving your goals?

Using a tool such as this will help you to determine the area of focus you would like to see growth within your company.

Finding KPI’s That Work For You

The categories of KPI’s are vast. There is literally an indicator for every category you can think of that pertains to your business.

For example, a small construction company may want to measure their marketing and social media KPIs to evaluate which advertising methods reach the highest number of people within their demographic. Or perhaps a software company, to increase diversity, may employ a Human Resources KPI to measure the male to female employee ratio. In both, examples of KPIs are being used to fine tune and identify areas where resources are being misused or where full potential is not being met.

Here are some examples of the types of KPI’s you can utilize:

  • Client satisfaction rating
  • Number of new cases/matters you opened in the last full month
  • Number of cases/matters you closed in the last full month
  • Number of potential new clients (PNCs) who showed up for those consults
  • Number of marketing actions have you took in the last full month

Inside And Out

Growing your company is more than just copying the industry norms, it is knowing your company inside and out, so each KPI can be tailored to strengthen specific company-wide weak spots. Reestablishing goals and criteria to better meet the needs of your company may be overwhelming at first, but worth it once your company begins pulling ahead of competition and growing like never before!

Back Office Betties

Work Backwards!

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule,

but to schedule your priorities.”  

-Stephen Covey

This wise quote conveys the importance of goal setting and planning your future.  Goal setting can feel like an overwhelming task, in fact, many people struggle to do.  It is difficult to foresee the future when you start from the present.  However, when you start from the vision and work backwards, you can uncover a clearer idea of what the road-map will look like.  This gives you the benefit of calculating more precise steps of what is needed to attain the end-goal.

Identify Milestones

A major benefit associated with backward goal setting is that it helps you to easily identify milestones.  When you start from the present and set your goals, they will probably be mostly comprised of immediate things on your to-do list.  When you start from the goal, the first milestones your brain produces will be high-level goals, ones with many subsequent steps.  Once you’ve established the subset of goals needed, correlate them closer to the present.  As with any form of goal setting, being accountable on due dates will be vital to success.

Better Understanding

Backward goal setting can also create a better understanding to your team members.  It can be easier to present to team members when working on group projects.  Good presentations outline the goals early on and use the remainder of the presentation to illustrate critical milestones that need to be hit.  This minimizes confusion for team members because they don’t have to figure out the main points themselves.  Backwards goal setting works in the same way.

Use It As Motivation

Backward goal setting can also be much more motivating than traditional planning.  Plans tend to be less cluttered with smaller tasks, so everything appears more manageable.  It also highlights areas in the process that will require outside assistance or additional resources, thus preventing unexpected hiccups along the way.  And with enough self-discipline, this method will eliminate time pressure caused by procrastination.

The following quote from Stephen Covey is a perfect illustration of why it is vital to success:

“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination.  It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now so that the steps you take are always in the right direction”

 

Map Your Vision

You’ve started your own business and you’re on a mission to become a goal crusher towards business growth.  So how can you plan for your success?  While very simplistic, goal writing is often put to the way-side.  Taking the time to write your goals is going to be the first step in implementing your vision.

Breaking It Down

Goal writing doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take time.  The first thing you need to do is set aside solid time to think about what you’d like to see in your business.  Start by first writing one or two annual goals.  What would you like to see happen in your business in the next year?  Three years? Break down your annual goals into a series of action steps.

It is also a good idea to come up with two or three smaller goals to achieve within the next business quarter or 6 months.  Again, after the goal is written, think about the action steps needed to take you closer to that goal.

Precise Picture vs. Action Steps

If you were to put these goals into a picture, what would it look like?  You can go back to your goals and actions steps at any time and ‘adjust the course’ as necessary.  The beauty of revisiting your goals is that it keeps you fresh in your vision.  You don’t necessarily have to have all the answers for your action steps.  Rather, focus on describing what you see.

Cameron Herold, author of Double Double, describes how you must create a ‘Vivid Vision’ first.  To do so, you must free yourself of your worries within your business.  While this may seem difficult to do, he explains it’s important to allow yourself the freedom to visualize your future.  Here are some simple tips he gives for you to clear your mind:

  • Get out of the office
  • Turn off your computer and other devices
  • Think of the ‘Where’ and not the ‘How’
  • Be an outside the box thinker

Vision Maps

Vision Maps can be used to describe your future state.  Herold suggests that you start by closing your eyes and just ‘think’ about what your company looks like three years from now.  As you are envisioning this, think about each functional area of business.  Write down three to four bullet points for each area of your company.  What does the marketing department look like?  What does the administrative department look like?  And so, on and so forth….

Write down everything you see – what do you clients say about you?  Your employees? It’s important to write it down as if it’s all true and has happened.  All your doing is describing the finished state of what your vision is.   

Once you’ve collected those bullet points you can come back and organize it.  Your content will be organized and then you can create similar themes for it to align.  As you pick your themes, they will then link into a cohesive story or message you wish to convey.  You can then create a visual around the story you have created.  Vision maps help to replace lengthy documents and opens the door for communication between you and your audience (employees, clients, etc.).  Your vision and the goals your originally wrote should align.

Hire A Graphic Designer

Now that you have all your bullet points organized, you see your finished state of your vision.  Each department is organized and exactly the way you want it.  Consider hiring someone to put your vision into the picture you image it to be.  Once that graphic design is done, display it in a place where you will see it every day.  Be proud of the outcome that is to take place and involve others in your excitement.