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Value-Based Intellectual Property Law Firm

Value-Based Intellectual Property Law FirmIt was very clear that there were two sets of values in the law firm: Ours and Theirs. Nobody was going to change and the company was split in two very different directions. So, we packed up our bags and our Values and walked out to start our own Firm. The recession was in full swing and intellectual property law firm revenues were down between around 40% – 60% in most firms. We had about $2,000 in cash to start with, four great people to employ, and rules preventing us from marketing to any of our previous clients.

These are the values that we brought with us:

  • Keeping true to our integrity while always being helpful,
  • Accepting and fulfilling responsibilities,
  • Anticipating the future and acting now to make it better for others,
  • Transparency, and
  • Deserving a Reputation for living our values.

We notified our previous clients that we left and gave them the option to move with us. It was a Jerry McGuire sort of time, but much less dramatic. We could not explain anything or call, or really do anything persuasive, so it was a big risk to leave. However, we had built strong relationships with many and so a good amount contacted us to talk about moving over to the new firm. It felt so good to know that so many people believed in us, resonated with our values and wanted to come along despite the risks.

The biggest problem we faced in the beginning is that intellectual property work is sporadic. Most intellectual property clients need help every six months to three years for scattered projects here and there. So, even though a good number of our clients transferred, only a small percent actually needed anything done at the moment. That put us in a serious cash crunch. We knew our business, so we expected that crunch and did everything we could to run as lean and simple as possible while still taking very good care of our client’s files.

Our first facility was a small bedroom that three of us crammed into while the fourth sat in the hall. Some of us worked for very reduced pay or free and some worked only when there was work to be done. We all did what we could to give ourselves the best possible chance to make it through the lean beginning.

Value-Based Intellectual Property Law Firm

Jason Webb

Marketing ourselves was a serious challenge at first. Our business has about a three month cycle between meeting a prospect and getting paid for the work. That meant that any marketing we did would not really show results for about three months. So, we kept our expenses as low as possible and did as much networking as we could.

We also knew that mistakes made in the beginning would cost us later and make our lives difficult. So, we made sure to consult with advisors and mentors on every major decision. Most of this we were able to do for free with friends and some was on trade. Trade and bartering has been a nice help and boost through the beginning stages, when you have excess capacity and are ramping up marketing.

It worked. After about four months of stressing every single day about how to make it work, we finally generated enough revenue in one month to keep everything afloat and get everyone back to our old pay. It felt so good to be out of that dangerous time. It was also an emotional let-down. The constant stress made it very easy to be motivated. The major stress was gone, but we still had so far to go and so much to do. It was difficult to keep up the energy level after such an ordeal and reliance on our values was not enough.

So, we realized that we needed to figure out our vision. That turned out to be a lot more complicated than we thought and we still do not have the perfect vision figured out. But, we have made major progress in understanding who we are, what we stand for, and what we can do better than anyone else in the world.

For us, it is about communication and respect. We seem to be so much better at it than all the other attorneys we know in our field. Our clients feel connected to us and are fiercely loyal even when major law firms in California and New York are trying to tempt them away from us. We are very good at getting projects done right, on time, and on budget. Oddly, too many lawyers have serious problems getting that right.

For us, the major difficulties have been in handling the constant change. Change impacts everyone differently and we have learned a lot more about each other in the process. Change makes people feel vulnerable, in danger, surprised, and unsure. It has been critical to our survival that we communicate how we feel, even when it is ugly. Our Transparency value has been so valuable in that regard. It is also very important to give and receive respect. We have come to truly appreciate how big of an impact that has on everyone and how good life can be when you surround yourself with people that you can trust and respect.

In our first full year of business, we grew almost twice as fast as our projections. We actually hired someone during that year – something we would have thought was crazy during the first few months. Our second year is looking to outdo the first by about 50%. We attribute this to lots of marketing, living our values, and consistent hard work.

Value-Based Intellectual Property Law Firm

Jason Webb

We now have a website we are proud of (www.webbiplaw.com) as well as a Facebook Fan Page (www.facebook.com/webbiplaw) with free guides for CEOs and Twitter account (www.twitter.com/webbiplaw) where we regularly post helpful information for CEOs. You can also find Jason Webb on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jason-webb/1/ab8/30).

Next on the list is to create multimedia education for clients and prospects to help them understand how to best turn their ideas into cash while avoiding the most common mistakes that cost them money. We are talking with professional videographers, educators, and animators about how best to make those so that they are accessible, professional, and clear.

The following people/companies (and plenty of others not listed) have been extremely helpful to us in this process. Many have saved us thousands or tens of thousands of dollars by giving great advice and helping us avoid costly mistakes. Many have also allowed us to grow much faster than we thought possible:

Russell Lookadoo – www.thealternativeboard.com

Jim and Lorraine Conaway – http://www.conawayandconaway.com/

Jeff Prager – http://www.backroommanagement.com/

Berny Dohrmann – www.ceospaceinternational.com

Chris Collins – www.branddesigner.com

Suzy Prudden – www.suzyprudden.com

We continue to be fiscally conservative. Our clients work very hard for the money that they pay us and so do we, so it is treated with great respect. Most months we are in the black and our variances from our budget are usually in marketing expenses. We track those expenses and our results so that we can identify our best sources of new relationships and keep those funded.

Our plan is to grow revenue by about 50% this year, and then about 25 – 33% per year after that until we reach the “right size” for our vision. So, we make sure to spend plenty of time marketing, but also some time in team development, personal development, reinforcing our values and in exploring our vision.

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