5 things we've done right in business
In our last post, we dived into the all the things we got wrong on our entrepreneurial journey. This time, we are going to focus on what we got right! Yes, it’s a mixed bag, but the reality of business always is. We have come to realise that there is no magic formula or recipe for success, but rather, you need to keep trying, you have to always be prepared to work hard, and you have to test ideas in the marketplace.
With that in mind, we did get things right on many occasions. As time goes by, the mistakes become fewer and the wins mount up and develop their own momentum. So what are some of the things that really clicked for us?
1. We Started a podcast.
We recognised early on that to differentiate ourselves and also build a following, we were going to have to do something compelling and novel. Podcasting for us became a no brainer when we realised just how few industry podcasts were out there talking about the business of law and alternative careers. We always felt that there was not enough honest conversations in the profession, which held it back. So we went ahead and started the Beyond Billables Podcast, telling 52 stories a year of lawyers who have done things differently in life and career.
On the back of the podcast, we have managed to build a nationally recognised brand in 18 months. We have also become the voice of a new and burgeoning industry of new law, legal tech and alternative services providers. It’s been an amazing journey that all started with us getting our voice out. Along the way, we have made an amazing array of connections and learnt a hell of a lot about networking.
2. Cash is King.
We have always had a big focus on cash flow and minimising debt. There is no doubt this is a tough one, as revenues can be beyond your control but we have always kept a close eye on financial management and avoided debt like the plague. Being a cash business and conscious of cash flow alleviate much of the stress in small business. It ensures you have freedom and flexibility, especially during tough times. It makes a huge difference not to have banks and debtors waiting in the wings. To get to this place, you need to have a serious think about cash flow management and building a buffer over time. It may well mean short-term pain and perhaps not paying yourself as much as you could each month, but its the safest and most stress free option for small businesses - especially those in service industries like legal.
3. We Hired the Best People we Could.
Hiring great people brings skills into your organisation that you might not currently have.
The biggest thing for us is we were always opportunistic and forward thinking about hiring so when the right person came along we snapped them up and brought them into the fold. Following on from this, we were also very conscious to have our employees working in areas of strength but we were also very confident in handing over responsibility to team members and decentralising things where possible.
Our philosophy has always been one where we give employees just enough rope with the freedom to make mistakes. We have always found that if you let your people do what they do best and enjoy then you don’t have much to manage. We have always hired smart people, but we have also given them responsibility and a sense of having a vested interest in the business from day one. Without our people we would not be where we are today. So be proactive around hiring where you can.
4. We operate a democratic work space.
We have always put a huge focus on keeping our team members involved with as much decision making as possible. We have a flat structure that focusses on work stream responsibility but when it comes to ideas and strategic direction we always bring everyone into the decision making process to field perspectives. Our people give us the best ideas so why not embrace that? Getting your team confident in their ability to speak up and contribute takes work, but it is worth it. Putting your ego aside is critical to a good business.
5. We put excellence first
We've attracted the best clients by always putting quality first. Expediency is the enemy of quality. Don't ever do something for a client you wouldn't be proud to have your name on. This is one area we have not compromised on and for one good reason: the minute you lose focus on the quality and value you are providing your clients, the sooner you will be out of business.
Working for lawyers and law firms helps in maintaining standards, of course, but its a huge part of how we approach our work and business, and something we take a lot of pride in. We have also always maintained high ethical standards. Trust me when I say, doing this in recruitment and marketing industries is no easy feat. Along the way, we lost out on work in the short term because we did not lower our selves to the level of some competitors, but in the long term we are still here and many of them are gone. We have always operated in an honest and transparent way and have found that the vast majority of clients we have worked with appreciate and reward this with long-term, trust based relationships that continue to pay off to this day.
So that's it. We scraped together 5!!