Five by Five – Jon Strande

These responses come from Jon Strande, writer of the Business Evolutionist blog and author of the e-book, “The Cash Register Principle.”

1. Form partnerships with other service professionals and offer entire solutions. For instance, I think the idea of being able to “plug in” to a business backbone would be cool. If I’m starting a small business, there are whole series of things that I need to do, file paperwork with the state, getting a tax-id number, getting some accounting software set up, printing business cards, etc, etc, etc. Imagine bringing together a bunch of preferred business partners together and offering a turn-key business formation service. The businesses in the “partnership” could chip in and pay for a concierge/liaison that would hold the hand of the business owner during the process. In addition to that, make the billing for the “service” simple… seamless across all the offerings.

2. Continue that service beyond the business formation stuff. That business concierge should be someone to facilitate anything at any time for the business owner. My point in this is that if you’re lawyer (or banker, or accountant, or whatever) you’re just a silo, you might have something to offer the time-starved entrepreneur, but you’re just a piece of the puzzle. You view the law as super important, and it is, but think about what the entrepreneur wants/needs – TO SELL. Not get burdened with legal stuff or anything else.

3. Play the role of connector. As an attorney, you have tons of contacts in various lines of business, facilitate introductions of clients that might be able to help each other. If you have a marketing firm as a client, introduce them to other clients that could use their services. If you want more business from someone, help them be successful, they’ll remember you for it and most people will repay that kindness by telling others about you.

4. Automate stuff that you can automate. Not to sell what an attorney does short, but several of the documents that you generate for clients are based on templates (be honest here), why not make that stuff available online, in a protected area, for existing clients. If I need a new contract for something at 8:30 at night, let me go online and create it instead of having to wait until 8:30 the next morning when you get in the office. Not all of the documents you produce can be automated, but for the ones that can be, automate them. Make them available to me when I need them. Add the simple stuff as well. Let me search other information, ask questions, etc…

5. Last, but certainly not least, remember that you’re in the people business. Treating people well, regardless of what business you’re in, is THE most important thing you can do… obviously.

6 Responses to Five by Five – Jon Strande
  1. Jon Strande
    July 19, 2004 | 3:27 pm

    Matt,

    Thank you for including me in this. I really appreciate it!

    Jon

  2. blake
    July 20, 2004 | 2:19 pm

    Such great ideas!
    Out here in Oregon, however, lawyers are explicitly barred from forming partnerships.

    “DR 3-103 Forming a Partnership with a Nonlawyer
    (A) A lawyer shall not form a partnership with a nonlawyer if any of the activities of the partnership consist of the practice of law.”

    Lawyers can still play the role of connector but cannot bundle services unless, apparently, the accountant, graphic designer, baker and candlestick maker are all lawyers.

  3. Jon Strande
    July 22, 2004 | 4:41 am

    Blake,

    Wow, what a shame. Such antiquated thinking, huh? Okay, so maybe it isn’t a partnership as much as a “close association” – would that work? If not, someone needs to have that law overturned… either that, or bring some of those services in house.

    Jon

  4. Mike
    July 22, 2004 | 10:19 am

    Even playing the role as a connector is somewhat dangerous and potentially unethical. I view it is as being unethical and a breach of confidentiality to even disclose the identity of a client without their prior written consent. As for letting clients get contracts and fill them out on their own, that’s just another way for the lawyer to get sued. The clients will claim that they relied on the forms as being complete and accurate. When they turn out not to be, they end up suing the lawyer because things didn’t work they way they wanted them to. I’ve seen countless lay people who think they are smart enough to fill out the forms but end up screwing something up. If you want forms, get them at OfficeMax and then assume the risk yourself.

  5. Andrew
    August 1, 2004 | 7:39 pm

    Legal liability concerns are often raised as reasons for not providing the sorts of legal services that the market demands. However, I would have thought that Mike’s issues could be addressed by providing appropriate notice/disclaimers to clients.

    With regard to document automation, certain documents are sufficiently straightforward and low risk to warrant Jon’s suggested self-service approach (e.g. non-disclosure agreements, government forms). And for higher risk documents, a client could still provide the necessary answers to online interview questions (and, thus, effectively generate the first draft) with the document being routed to an attorney for review before it is provided to the client for execution. There is no reason for attorneys to be involved in the initial data gathering/entry phase (well…there is financial incentive for attorneys who use time-based billing).

    Disclosure: I am biased, as:
    1. I work for a document automation company; and
    2. I think time-based billing is potentially unethical as it results in attorneys having a conflict of interest (at least perceived, if not actual) with their clients.

  6. Mcgill
    June 28, 2007 | 12:41 am

    I personally feel that point number three is very important of the five. The concept that I’ve understand is to be “caring.”

    Corporate people are very tough. They don’t consider it necessary to be emotionally attached towards their clients and buisness partners which subtracts to the business. For instance if you, as a business man, acted rude towards one of your clients. It’s likely that he will tell another 10 not to deal with you and those 10 will teach another 10 the same thing-not make any deals with you.

    It’s said that customers and clients advertise negatives more than positives of a business. This is where I see the point number a very important one.

    Thanks for the blog.

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