If you're starting to run your practice like an entrepreneur, it's not a moment too soon. "The attorneys picked it up quickly," says Mark Curtis, president of Curtis Marketing Group, a St. Joseph, Minnesota, marketing and advertising company that specializes in advising dentists and other professional service providers. "Dentists have been slower to get it, but another group that took to it quite well was plastic surgeons. And the accountants are starting to get it."
At the moment, you can learn a lot by looking at the professionals who are already acting like entrepreneurs. Unger is constantly developing new technology-based products that will reduce his costs and expand his market. The latest is an online service that reminds companies of the legal requirement to keep minutes of board meetings and eases the task with prepared forms-all for a fraction of the cost of hiring a law firm to record the meeting minutes. For Unger, it's all part of being an attorney-albeit one with an unusually entrepreneurial bent. "A typical lawyer might make an investment in furniture and maybe [produce] a brochure," he says. "I am making an effort to grow my firm in a way that's unique."
One of the best moves any entrepreneurial professional can make to encourage growth in his or her company is to take on other entrepreneurs as clients. That way, as they grow, you do, too. Roger P. Glovsky
is an attorney who, after practicing law for a while, returned to college to get an MBA. Later, he founded, owned and managed several technology companies. In January 2002, he returned to practicing entrepreneurial law in a solo practice in Lexington, Massachusetts, catering specifically to entrepreneurs.
If you try this route, be prepared to change what you do and the way you do it. When advising clients, Glovsky often enters areas, such as strategy and efficiency, that few attorneys consider their turf. You'll have to be sensitive to entrepreneurs' needs, particularly the need to efficiently manage their scarcest resource: their time. Glovsky does this by sending checklists of information before sitting down to discuss incorporating a new business with an entrepreneur.
But the major change you'll need to make-and get the opportunity to observe with your entrepreneurial clients-is to take on a more growth-oriented, aggressive attitude. "It comes down to having the entrepreneurial mind-set," says Glovsky. "Clients need people who see the world as they do, who are results-oriented, think independently, can be creative, and [see] the bigger picture."
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This article was originally published in the October 2004 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Best Practices.
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