Are You Tongue Tied?

I follow lots of people in the on line world and one of my favorites is Chris Brogan of www.chrisbrogan.com.  Here’s some information about Chris (directly from his site:)

Chris Brogan is President of New Marketing Labs, a new media marketing agency, as well as the home of the New Marketing Summit conferences and New Marketing Bootcamp educational events. He works with large and mid-sized companies to improve online business communications like marketing and PR through the use of social software, community platforms, and other emerging web and mobile technologies

Pretty straight forward – as is Chris.

Now, the reason for this post is because Chris recently wrote in his blog:  27 Things To Do Before A Conference.  As I’m headed off to Chicago for a conference in April, Chris’ post couldn’t come at a better time.  While all the information he provides is helpful, of particular interest to me and what I wanted to highlight for you is this entry:

#24  If you’ve got a business offer to promote at an event, practice and practice and practice how you’re going to talk about it. Be crisp. Make it easy to say. Be very clear about the ask. If you’re looking for people to review your demo, then make that the ask. If you’re looking for work, be clear that you’re available for a few extra projects. It seems that lots of folks beat around the bush or don’t exactly know how to have a beginning, middle, and end to a conversation.

I find that lots of people who are in business do not understand the importance of being able to answer normal, business type questions – what do you do, how do you do it, how much do you charge – and sound like a coherent, intelligent person (meaning not stumbling through scattered information in sentences laden with uhhhs and ummms).  Even if there is no networking event or trade show to attend, every e-preneur needs to be able to speak about their business.

It’s not that I don’t understand why…. I attribute it to the fact that e-preneurs spend a lot of time in the first few years on development.  Generally, working alone for one or two clients while putting in place the processes and tech their budding business needs to be in business and, of course, grow.  This means, e-preneurs don’t spend much time in the first few years talking to anyone not already familiar with them and their business, service or product.  Hence, no need to develop the lingo.

This is why I always suggest to newbie VAs and fledgling e-preneurs that they write out a list of the “normal” business questions they will be asked.  You know, the stuff they would ask of someone else if they were doing the hiring.  Then draft 1-3 sentence responses.  Some questions may require more information – but the goal is to deliver the answer in as few words as possible – keeping the answer somehow memorable, if possible.

Once the words are written, it is just a matter of practice.  I encourage literally speaking the sentences out loud, and refining the responses until each rolls off the tongue with ease.

For those who prefer a live audience to practice on, look to ToastMasters International – a true not for profit group with a mission to help ordinary people speak better and become better leaders. There are ToastMasters clubs in 100+ countries and you can find one near you by visiting the main site:  http://www.toastmasters.org.

Original post date March 18, 2009

Wanna Get Paid?

Every little bit counts!

In reading: Keeping the Cash Flowing: A Dozen Tips for Getting Clients to Pay More Promptly by Lawyer turned Coach Debra Bruce

I noticed the number one thing I tell attorneys to do in order to keep the cash flowing was not listed.

My number one rule to getting paid regularly is to bill regularly.  Set a deadline (mine is the 7th of each month) and no matter what else is exploding around you – get the bills out by that date.

This does two things:

  1. cements with clients that when you say you’re going to do something, you do (in a way that is not directly involved in their matter); and
  2. gets each client in the habit of accepting, reviewing and paying your invoices on a schedule.

You can facilitate payment by accepting credit cards, so long as you play by the rules re: your trust account. This is why I recommend http://www.lawcharge.com.  Long-standing player in the “legal” world, LawCharge is owned by an attorney who knows the ins and outs of the merchant account world the way you do a courtroom or the law library.

I understand just how hard it is to be solo – to have to do it all and how being solo makes some routine tasks infinitely more difficult.  A standard “where’s my payment” call can easily turn into an hour long discussion about everything when all you wanted to know was when you would be paid.

This is why my second tip would be to find and build a relationship with a bookkeeper or virtual assistant, then routine billing and follow up payment reminder calls can be competently performed by someone else –  freeing up your time and removing potential stress on the attorney-client relationship should the money not be flowing as quickly as you would like.

FYI, this is not a commercial for LegalTypist as she does not offer bookkeeping nor collection (or any other) calls.  If I had a good contact in legal to recommend for the bookkeeping, I would.  Unfortunately, the best virtual bookkeeper I know – @CandyTX at http://www.offassist.com – prefers not to work with attorneys … something about how they can be difficult.  Who … what…  attorneys?!

Original post date: August 20, 2011

 

WHY LEGALZOOM SUCKS

Lawyers are not known for brevity, but LegalZoom can be summed up in two words: It sucks.

LegalZoom purports to help its unwitting customers avoid paying for lawyers by allowing users to prepare their own documents. While LegalZoom clearly warns that it is not offering legal services, it creates the misconception that for important matters like wills and incorporations attorneys aren’t necessary. Per LegalZoom, a client doesn’t need estate planning, it simply needs a will, which LegalZoom reduces to a glorified MadLib. Granted, a testamentary document replete with mentions of sexual organs, dirty words, and excretory references will probably lighten the mood at the reading. It’s also highly inappropriate, and not just because the decedent should not be allowed to bequeath his testicles to Aunt Betty.

For new businesses, LegalZoom treats incorporating not as a tool for owners but as an end itself. There’s no lawyer to explain why one might want a corporation or what entity ownership entails. Because new entrepreneurs often confuse the act of incorporating with the process of starting a business (unaware that the former is merely one small step in the latter), they generally don’t recognize and can’t use the entity as a tool for mitigating risks. By suggesting that a lawyer isn’t necessary to start a business, LegalZoom reinforces the misconception that incorporating by itself is enough.

In sum, LegalZoom encourages people to think of attorneys as glorified meter maids: Functionaries whose sole job is to complete paperwork that needlessly costs money. It feeds off the notion that all attorneys are nitpicky, word-twisting, morally compromised, overdressed, bottom-feeding sleazewads who defend killers like O.J. Simpson (which is ironic considering that ‘Dream Team’ alumnus Robert Shapiro is one of its founders). LegalZoom is to legal services what McDonald’s is to cuisine. Both are inexpensive and quickly satisfy a perceived need. They also do tremendous damage that often goes unseen until it’s way too late. If you eat enough fast food, you start to look like Grimace, the obnoxious, eggplant-shaped, morbidly obese purple blob that used to appear in McDonald’s commercials until he died either of a massive coronary or an allergic reaction to whatever it is in McDonald’s French fries that preserves them like petrified wood. LegalZoom erroneously suggests that the value in legal services is in the documents themselves. They provide their business customers with pages of useless garbage that look nice and official sitting on a bookshelf. However, if you get into an argument with a cofounder, have a dispute with a vendor, are trying to raise investment capital, or need something other than a pretty binder with a bunch of printed pages, you almost never have the resources required to proceed. Like a McDonald’s customer who gobbled down one too many Big Macs, someone must open everything up to clean the mess, and it’s expensive, time-consuming, unpleasant, completely unnecessary if you’d just gotten something better in the first place . . . and known to cause explosive diarrhea.

The value in legal services is in the advice and guidance that an attorney provides. The documents are almost an afterthought; they only codify the decisions clients have made in conjunction with counsel. Provided properly, business lawyers are a value-added service. Whether by protecting a company from lawsuits and regulatory actions, prescribing an easy remedy for ownership disputes, or just letting a founder sleep better at night knowing that his investment is protected to the extent possible, good counsel is not just a cost of doing business. LegalZoom is . . . and it is often a steep price to pay.