As the noted 20th Century philosopher Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
This aphorism applies to many important parts of our lives—our marriage, our kids, and our health, just to name a few. It also applies to our careers.
Most people, when they are in their teens and twenties, dream of a career that is exciting, fulfilling, fun, and financially rewarding. Then life happens.
We go to college (or don't go to college) and take the first job we can land, and twenty years later, look up and find that we are in a completely different place than we once dreamed about. We didn’t heed Mr. Bueller’s advice. Life came at us fast, and we forgot to stop and look around once in a while.
So, here we are. Is this our lot in life? I say “No!”.
No matter where you are in your career, there is still time to stop, look around, and locate that long forgotten dream, dust it off, and incorporate it into your future career goals.
What Gets You Excited?
We all have a few things in our lives that we can talk about non-stop, without getting bored or running out of things to say. For me, I perk up when music, the latest TV show I’m binging, stand-up comedy, football, or politics comes up in a conversation.
What are the subjects that make you light up? Art? Cars? Movies? Helping the less fortunate?
Whatever it is that gives you a burst of interest and energy could be called one of your “passions”.
We’ve all heard about pursuing our passion for years. I don’t know about you, but when I hear this term, it evokes a picture of some carefree soul pursuing their lifelong dream of making artisan moccasins from organically-sourced materials for the indigenous population in under-served areas of Nepal. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! (a reference that Seinfeld fans should get)
For most of us, especially if we are several years into our career and have a family to support, this type of quest for fulfilling our passion is not an option. We have clients to serve, deadlines to meet, mortgages to pay.
But this doesn’t mean we cannot somehow integrate some of these energizing pursuits into our career plan.
Let’s say you are an attorney with a diverse corporate practice. You primarily advise small and medium-sized businesses on labor and employment matters, but you can also help them with other issues such as reviewing agreements, addressing potential litigation and corporate governance.
Also, suppose that you really love wine. When you go on vacation, you always try to find local wineries to visit. When out to dinner with friends, you know just the right bottle that everyone will enjoy. You like red and white wines. You love wines from Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Paso Robles. If a wine comes from Oregon, Virginia, or Missouri, there is a reasonable chance you have sampled it at some point. You can discern the differences among French, Spanish, and Italian wines. Like I said. You REALLY love wine.
If you were this attorney, how could you potentially incorporate your passion for wine into the future of your law practice?
Identifying Your Audience
First, let’s start with the obvious. Market your services to wineries.
As my client, I would first advise you to go out and meet as many vintners as possible. (For my readers from Texas, a vintner is someone who makes wine. BTW, I’m from Texas.) Whenever you travel for business or pleasure, try to stop by the local wineries and introduce yourself. But, instead of talking about their latest vintage, talk about their business. How did they get started? What was their dream? Are they where they thought they would be? What keeps them up at night?
Your objective for these conversations is to get a real sense of the issues these wineries face and identify ways you could potentially help.
What happens if an employee gets injured on the job? What do you do when a supplier misses a crucial deadline? When one of your large clients suddenly goes out of business and owes you a significant amount of money, what are your options?
These are all issues that any business owner must be prepared to face. Wineries are no exception.
My goal would be for you to be recognized as the “Go To” attorney for small to medium-sized wineries. If possible, I would encourage you to narrow their focus even more. If your conversations uncover needs that are very specific to a particular type of winery, and there are enough of these to build a business on, I would encourage you to tailor your marketing and business development plan to speak to that audience. It could be family-owned wineries with fewer that 20 employees, but revenues above $500,000 annually. You would want to narrow it down to whatever gives you a specific audience large enough to support a practice. In this example, you could narrow by region, organization size, annual revenue, type of wine, ownership structure, stage of business, and many others.
This narrowing also presents you with an opportunity to target the types of businesses that you want to work with. Maybe you would like to work with wineries that only produce Pinot Noir. You want to help women advance in the industry, so your focus is on wineries that are owned and operated by women. If there is a sub-market within your target market in which you have a particular interest, consider narrowing your focus to speak directly to that audience.
When we have identified the type of winery you want to cater to, we would then go about building a plan to reach these potential clients. (A subject that merits its own article, so stay tuned!)
This scenario is just one of many ways you could go about incorporating your passion for wine into your practice. Maybe they could focus on wine sellers, wine clubs or wine collectors. Depending on their interests, the potential focus of an attorney’s practice could be endless.
If you are at a point in your career, whether you are a partner, associate, or solo practitioner, I encourage you to take Ferris’ advice and stop now, look around, and do not miss an opportunity to develop a business that delivers outstanding service to your clients, provides financial rewards that will support your family’s future, and gives you the satisfaction that can only come from integrating the energy and excitement of your personal passion into your career goals.
If you want some help, please reach out to us at (800) 863-5272 or firstname.lastname@example.org