The formula to business growth is actually very simple. The more you narrow your focus, the more money you can make. This sounds like a paradox: how can you make more money by limiting the type of work you’ll do? Let’s dive in.
Most attorneys don’t limit their practice much; I’m sure you know plenty of lawyers who practice family law, estate planning, business law, with some criminal defense on the side. Maybe you’re one of them.
It’s easy to understand why. We’re all trying to grow our business, win new clients, and drive revenue. So it’s logical to create as broad a practice as possible, to cast the widest possible net and appeal to the largest market segment possible. Sound familiar?
The thing is, it doesn’t work that way. And in fact, building a “generalist” legal practice is going to cap your potential income significantly. Why? Because every one of us wants to work with an expert when given the opportunity, whether that’s hiring a CPA to help with our taxes, a private music teacher for our kids, or a real estate agent to sell our home.
Focusing in on a single practice area, or at least a group of related practice areas, is a critical step to building a powerful brand identity and differentiating yourself from the competition. You cannot and will not be perceived as an “expert” if your focus is too broad. You’ve heard the phrase “jack-of-all-trades, master of none”—it’s very relevant here. Your market needs to know what you’re exceptional at, and that’s why your focus should narrow.
I know how resistant most lawyers are to narrow their practice areas, often for economic reasons. But keep this in mind: You can start by simply narrowing the focus of your marketing—you don’t have to turn down clients in other practice areas. We all have bills to pay and you may not be ready to turn down paying clients yet. So you can continue to take work in other areas, even as you focus your marketing on a specific niche.
With time, as you focus your marketing and build a brand as a leader in your area of practice, you’ll attract more of the work you’re focused on, you’ll be able to charge higher rates to do it, and you’ll build a much more sustainable and efficient practice because you won’t have to re-invent the wheel every time you get a new client.
Narrowing your focus will also make a huge difference when it comes to generating referrals because focusing on a single practice area makes it easy for your network to remember what you do and recognize opportunities to send you work. Not to mention that people are much more likely to refer a lawyer who is an expert in a particular area of need.
It might seem counter-intuitive at first. It might sound scary. But if you’re serious about creating a strong brand to help you stand out from the competition and build a more profitable practice, you need to narrow your focus.