I’m kinda glad I did not Blog much or at all in December. December was an angry month for me but something I needed to go through. My business is an intangible service and I’m a relationship’s guy not a transactional guy. What this means as it relates to this Blog and this past December is that I have lots of clients I have built up over the years, which is good. What is bad is that my relationship with these clients is such that they feel we are friends and that while working on their case is important, keeping up with their bill not so much. Nobody pays their lawyer in December. We are on the bottom of the list, truly. Yet December is one of my busiest months as to going to court and getting things done before the end of the year. So I find myself in court constantly yet dipping into savings for Christmas presents for the family. Then when we do our round of “hey did you see my invoice I sent you last month for $2000?” emails, the response is invariably, “I’ll make a payment in January” meaning I’ll get $500 when they feel like it.
All of this is completely my fault. I created the dynamic and now I am reaping the rewards. So here is how I fix it, I think. First, right above the imaginary tattoo on my left arm that say”you can’t fix everyone” put another imaginary tattoo that says “You are not here to make friends”. Side note, some of my worst clients as far as payment and referrals are friends. Most people send me business because they know I will do a good job and also because they want me to make money. However, there is a small segment that likes to send me business because it makes them feel important and that they can get their friend “a deal”. Those people suck. They also feel like they are in a special category when it comes to their own cases. So, I’m just not anymore. No weird ass payment plans for friends or their penny pinching D client referrals. Also no more subsidizing people’s legal costs by not insisting on full payment of a balance before more work is done. I am also going to start paying more attention to the 80/20.
The 80/20 works like this. You get 80% of your income from 20% of your clients yet you spend 80% of your time with a different 20%. My work is a constant challenge to get certain things done while I am assailed from all sides by everyone else’s “emergencies” because they are having “anxiety”. The manipulation I have fallen prey to in the past has been to “just get this one thing done” or “let me solve this one last problem”. Well guess what? There is always one more problem or one more thing, the problems never end, they just change. To reassure myself of this, I look at the current dockets of cases I have worked in the past and you know what, they are still going. The human capacity for drama, time wasting and unnecessary legal expenses is boundless. It is worth the value of a college education for someone’s child to prove how “right” they are. Yet one of the biggest wastes of time is to try and change someone’s mind (discuss politics anyone? Or climate change?) but they (and sometimes even me, when I forget myself) have to try.
So in addition to my New Year’s resolutions of Not running for office again and Listening to more metal this year I am going to add, No more trying to fix that last problem and no more trying to change someone’s mind.