2019 – Before the planning, it’s all about the decision

It’s here. The end of Q4. With all your systems humming along, I am hoping for those who have been hanging around HTM for more than six months, you were thinking of Q1 2019 as early as Q1 2018. I will cover more on planning later, but for now, I want to delve into the first step for a successful 2019. It’s called…

Wait for it….

The Decision

Before you begin thinking of AR and numbers and metrics to help you decide the plan for 2019, the most important thing is understanding that all that stands between you and what you want for your firm, is you.

Before you begin your calculations and planning, the fuel you need to move ahead in a big way lies in the power of the decision. It is, by far, the toughest part of all. And, it is more than one single decision.

You have heard my “No Assholes” policy.
To be clear, I never “enjoy” enforcing our No Assholes Policy. In fact, in most cases when this policy is applied, it more of a person operating from a deepened black abyss of fear rather than a person who behaves badly because that is who he is at his core.

Short List of Decisions for 2019

1. How much income do you want to earn?

2. Which projects are the ones you need and want to mark
the milestones?

3. How many days do you want to work in 2019?

4. How will you spend your resting days?

5. What “stuff” will you want to add to your law firm or your
personal life in 2019?

You will tweak these decisions throughout the year, so don’t get stuck in the weeds over this. Why tweak? Part of the process lies in adjusting and evolving your goals as they grow more visible and tangible. You will also begin to realize how much more you are capable of in your growth and you will begin to dream even bigger. Additionally, you will also decide how much you must make in 2019 to set up 2020 for success.

The Planning Begins

Next, it’s time to do a Brain Dump of where your opportunities lie, where your leaks are, and where you can tighten up your processes, projects and systems. A round number for most attorneys (if they are honest) is about 100 items with some being projects, to-dos, tasks, or more decisions. Projects require planning. Tasks simply require an appointment to knock them out. As you begin fleshing out the entire year, leave off the tasks as they are not big picture, still important, but they are not strategic.

Example of a task:

Writing the long overdue thank you note to someone you meet is a task.

Example of a project:

Setting up a dedicated station in the office to write thank you notes, training the team on when, why and how to write thank you notes, and installing a monthly thank-you-notewriting contest and a system for keeping track– that is a project.

Who Does What

If you are very small, it will be simple to decide who does what. If your team is larger, bring your leadership together and choose ownership of those top three to five projects in each category. Years ago, when Ale and I were starting out we were cash-strapped and because of this, choosing
priority projects that would yield the quickest ROI was our “M” “O”. Only those projects that would produce results the fastest were allowed on the list. When you are broke and have no line of credit, no angel investors, no saviors, you are not thinking of those “nice to have tools like blogs or newsletters. No, you are thinking which stepping stone is going to give us the biggest push forward. We had to be ruthless.

You must be ruthless.

The number of projects you choose to focus on is directly related to which stage you are in the growth continuum. If you are early along that timeline, you are doing more things yourself. Realistically, you and your team are unable to take as many projects. As you grow, the numbers of people taking on projects grows, therefore, the number of projects also grows.