Remember the Saturday Night Live skit “Coffee Talk” where Mike Myers played “Linda Richman”, a stereotypical middle-aged Jewish woman? She would tell her viewers that she was feeling “verklempt” and to “talk amongst themselves.” I sometimes find myself feeling the same way—overwhelmed with the great task of managing a business and needing to stop and gather my plans before charging ahead. Recently I was feeling this way and a very wise person (they know who they are) advised me to seek out some contemporaries, other small business folks like myself, with whom I might discuss the trials and tribulations of running an agency or maybe even just some other female professionals who were on their own running professional practices. But, the bottom line was to find some people who were sharing like experiences and to talk, share, listen and learn.
So, now I am in the process of seeking out these colleagues and I’m excited about the opportunities that have arisen. Surprisingly, I think I have found them in the most unlikely of places, but found them I have. I look forward to talking with them about various topics from marketing a small business, financial growth and stability, to internal processes and procedures and sub-contractor/vendor relationships. We all seem to think that our business is unique to our specific field but the fact is, we are all in the service business and we are all running businesses with the same essential business functions and needs. It is crucial that we learn that we should lean on one another and learn from one another. We aren’t in competition with each other in terms of our businesses. There is more than enough business to go around. They didn’t teach us in law school that we would be running a business, so who to better learn from than each other?
Learn from your peers and colleagues. Learn from their mistakes and their successes. Talk to each other. Conferences like PILMMA are a great place to network and to learn and not just from the presenters who have wonderful ideas about how to grow your practices or the exhibitors who have fantastic products that will help accelerate your firm’s growth. Spend time at these conferences talking amongst yourselves and gleaning information from those who have walked in your shoes. Who knows more than those who have “been there and done that?” It’s not a bad idea to join a non-lawyer business leaders group in your community. Talk amongst other business owners and see how they handle some of the same issues and problems you face in your law firm. I can promise you that they face them too—it’s not unique to your business alone. So, the next time you have a chance to spend time with your colleagues, instead of debating the finer points of law or discussing how the next election will affect the practice of law, ask them how they handle their employee benefits packages or are planning for retirement. I promise you will find it a much more valuable use of your time when you talk amongst yourselves!