Running a Business is No Tea Party

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Upsets are always, well, upsetting — at least to some. The recent upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was no exception.

Cantor, a Republican, lost to Dave Brat, a more conservative Tea Party contender in the primaries. It was completely unexpected: Virtually everyone had pegged Cantor as the victor, including Cantor himself, who realized too late that his seat was in danger. By the time he was aware of the very real threat, the damage had already been done.

Why am I discussing politics in a column about the business of law? Because the parallels are unmistakable. Those of you who choose to ignore them do so at your own peril, risking the success of your business.

  • Your success is dependent on the voters (your clients). Make sure that you listen to what they want, and deliver it. If they are unhappy with one of your actions or decisions, address that issue directly — and quickly. To delay is to risk conveying to your clients that you just don't care.

  • Be aware of the other candidates (your legal competitors). Make it your business to know about the firms that are your direct competition. Examine those that are successful and figure out why. Understand what those firms are offering that clients find attractive.

  • Never underestimate the fickleness of clientele. Don't be complacent just because you have managed to procure clients; the important point is that you need to retain those clients. Clients may love you, but they want to be courted so that they have a reason to keep on loving you.

  • Make yourself accessible. Don't hide in your office. Face time is important. Shake hands and kiss babies. Converse with your clients. Take time to attend community events at which your clients likely will appear.

  • Remember: marketing is important. Advertising is key to campaigns. Fashioning an appropriate message about yourself is critical to attracting voters. There are many different ways to market yourself; choose the modes of communication that will best reach the clients you want to attract.

  • Develop good relationships with your colleagues (partners and staff members). Teamwork is key to success. Those who make enemies with the people they work with find that they don't have enough support to get legislation (legal work done in a timely and efficient manner) passed.

  • Be ethical. Thieves and liars will be discovered and lose their seats (business).

  • Plan. Set goals. Work toward those goals. Organization is important.

  • Be financially savvy. Keep track of your finances. Make sure that the purchases you make for your campaign give you a good return on your investment.

  • Communicate. Let your constituents know what you've been doing to help them. Use email, social media, reports, etc., to deliver news.

  • Engage an adviser (coach). No man or woman is an island. Surround yourself with people who can give you advice and guide you toward making solid decisions.

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