It is hard to believe that 10 years ago, I was handed the opportunity of a lifetime. Though I am not sure at the time I recognized it as such! Starting a new venture – especially in 2008 – was a bit crazy, but start it I did. In fact, B2 Legal Management was born directly from the tough economy the Austin legal community faced at that time. Offering an outsourced administrative and accounting service for small law firms seemed like the perfect solution for firms who needed the expertise of an administrator but could not afford one. B2 was the right answer for many and the right gig for me. I have enjoyed every minute of these past 10 years forging strong relationships and friendships with clients and colleagues.
With the celebration of our anniversary year beginning, I thought I would share 10 things that I have learned these past 10 years…
#1 You may feel alone at times, but never go it alone.
Surround yourself with advisors and advocates. Early on, I had trusted mentors in Paul Skeith, Monica Emilienburg and Jerry Pritchard – to name a few – who were extremely helpful to me. They believed in what I was doing and encouraged me to stay focused. It is very easy for COOs, CFOs and owners to get distracted. Never hesitate to ask for help and never let pride keep you from doing the “right thing.”
#2 Be confident in the expert you are.
Over 35 years of working with attorneys has afforded me a great deal of experience to pull from and apply to B2. I have always known knowledge is key and I have always been hungry for knowledge. I was very active in the local chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators and continue to be an active public speaker in areas of my expertise. Some would say I have a healthy confidence in my abilities, but to sit at the table during partner meetings and be heard, how can you not?
#3 Be irrationally optimistic.
I think some may call it “fake it till you make it.” We knew from the beginning B2 had a great offering for attorneys and we enthusiastically sold it. We didn’t know necessarily how we were going to always service the needs of the client, but we never faltered in our optimism and belief that we could do it. This optimism continues to serve us and our clients well!
#4 Be a visionary and lead your team to join and achieve the vision.
B2 follows a book called Traction. It keeps us true to the vision of what we want to be when we grow up! Whether you follow the EOS system or another system, my advice is follow one that works and STICK TO IT! Too many owners get too caught up working in the business and get off track. B2’s management team takes the time out of their very hectic schedules to work ON the business. Our clients benefit from the results.
#5 Be brave and know you will make mistakes.
Those that know me well, know I am a risk taker. I like the word “try.” We have added some service lines over the years that have been big flops and it will always serve as a thump on the head that we need to stay true to our core services. It’s why Texas Lawyer continues to recognize us as the best back office support company for lawyers. But we still continue to listen to our clients and introduce new ideas when new needs develop!
#6 Be true to your people.
Loyalty is everything to me. I support my team knowing that we are there for each other in every circumstance. Never do I throw them under the bus. If there is a mistake, we own it and we fix it. And while we are focused on our clients’ needs, I also focus on my team’s needs. It’s why we went virtual a couple of years ago. The commute was affecting productivity and morale. While non-traditional, it has made all the difference in employee happiness! Happy employees = happy clients.
#7 Talk to your clients.
We call it the “Client Experience” at B2. From the initial sale to the onboarding to the daily/monthly service we provide, we establish effective communication tools to ensure we are doing what we said we would do. Client feedback is critically important to us. We celebrate our victories and learn from our defeats. We take all feedback seriously and will make changes to processes as needed. If you never listen to your clients, don’t be surprised when they leave.
#8 Look further than likability when hiring.
This was a hard one for me to learn because I always want to give someone a break or a new opportunity. But when you are in a service business, our clients need more than a nice person managing their money. We now use a screening tool that identifies communication styles, learning behaviors and how detailed oriented innate abilities are. If someone does not meet the criteria, it doesn’t really matter how nice they are. It’s all about being the right person in the right seat to meet our goals and our clients’ goals.
#9 Establish core values and follow them.
We have six core values at B2: Strong Work Ethic, Client Service, Respect for Everyone, Integrity & Honesty, Professionalism and Teamwork. We live by them, we hire by them, evaluate by them and – if necessary – terminate by them. They have served us well!
#10 LOVE what you do.
At the end of the day, each of us must take great satisfaction that we have made a difference and are doing what we enjoy doing. Whether it is professional, personal, or spiritual, we all work hard, so it is imperative you love what you do. At B2, we love that we can partner with our clients and assist them in solving an issue – whether it is attorney compensation, succession planning or cleaning up messy books left by a previous bookkeeper – at the end of the day, we know we made a difference! We LOVE that!
These last 10 years have been a great ride and we know that much of our success comes from our successful clients! We look forward to our celebration this year and many more years to come!
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