In a recent article written for a Legal Publication on how lawyers can effectively market their practice, I mentioned one of my favorite books, The E-Myth as it pertained to systemizing one’s business operation. In both my writing and live presentations, I often refer to systems, and personally define a system as, “The process of predictably achieving a goal based on a logical and specific set of how-to principles.” As E-Myth author, Michael Gerber says, “Systems permit ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results, predictably.”
The key is predictable results.
The following is a question I received from a reader of that article and below that, my response:
“Mr. Burg – In your recent article, you refer to E-Myth principles but then talk about the importance of my referral sources knowing, liking and trusting “Me” and that’s why they refer. As I understand, The E-Myth is all about systems and that the system we develop is what our referral sources need to fall in love with so that the business can succeed and grow without me.
“Now, maybe that system is built around principles that would make a referral source want to refer to me such as trust, competency, etc. but it is the system that must embody those traits and, if it does, it makes the question of “who” is serving the client irrelevant. As I understand The E-Myth idea, it is that the systemization of my law practice frees me up to work more on the business development side of the business or to go fishing.
“We are struggling with this right now as a new firm trying to apply E-myth principles and build a firm the right way. I think a law firm does have special circumstances because, as you point out in your article, the attorney themselves have traditionally been what attracts and retains the clients. However, I still believe E-myth principles can and should be applied to a law firm trying to go somewhere. I am most anxious to hear your thoughts on this matter.
My response: My reference to The E-Myth (a book I believe is outstanding) was in terms of pointing out the benefits of having a system. I wasn’t really referring to any of Mr. Gerber’s teachings, aside from that.
In the case of my article, the “System” I’m talking about is, what I call, the Endless Referrals System. And, the Endless Referrals system is — by its very nature — used by individuals. So, to take the “person equation” out of it would be to simply render it unusable.
While I believe that Mr. Gerber is absolutely, positively 100 percent correct in the importance of utilizing a system, I don’t believe that it is any contradiction in terms to say that plugging good people into your system in also important.
I’d go back to, what I call, “The Golden Rule of Networking/Business” which is: “All things being equal, people do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.” A person can “go through the motions” of using my system but they — as a person — being good at what they do, being true to their word, being a person who truly adds to the life of others, is what makes the system work.
One challenge (and, this is just my opinion, of course) is that sometimes, when we are exposed to some absolutely tremendous teachings such as those shared in The E-Myth, we are tempted to take certain concepts to an extreme. Again, in my opinion, to leave the “people equation” out of the issue would be absolutely counter-productive. And, that is never suggested by Mr. Gerber.
Now, with that said, I believe you are totally correct that E-myth principles can and should be applied to a law firm trying to go somewhere. And, that the systemization of your law practice will free you up to work more on the business development side of the business or spend more time doing those non-work activities you might prefer doing, such as fishing or being with family.
All that is true. And so you’ll work with the different people/positions in the firm to make that happen. Remember, however, he also says that, early on, you might have to do a lot of those things yourself. Possibly (and, of course I don’t know your particular situation) you need to begin at first being the rainmaker; perhaps the Endless Referrals System being one method for doing that.
As you see great results, you can teach the system to the new associates you eventually bring on, and they’ll be doing that more and more themselves (and you’ll begin to go fishing more and more). Of course, the other aspects of running your firm will need to be systematized, as well.
I hope that helps, and I wish you the very best of success.
So, friends, let me ask you for your feedback. How do you see the relationship between the system and the people within the system? Do you agree with my thoughts? Disagree? Let me know.