Learn how Jeff cultivated relationships over a long time to develop a thriving law practice.
Location: Denver, Colorado
His business: Jeff is a business lawyer living in Denver, Colorado. In his long entrepreneurial career, Jeff has opened two private practices and ran a newspaper business with over 100 employees.
How I met him: He also volunteers at the Denver SBDC, which is where I met him. Although Danielle and I went in for legal advice, Jeff had a lot of other great nuggets of wisdom for us.
His insights on a common problem among many of the businesses he has worked with over the years:
You have to know when to walk away.
He has seen many businesses who struggled on for years after they should have closed shop and started a new business.
Jeff says that people have to have the perspective to see what is coming and to pivot accordingly. He told a story about calling a prominent lawyer in LA in 1990 and asking for her to change something in a legal document. She was able to complete the entire task in 5 minutes, via her computer. Then he looked around his office and saw the stacks of papers and rows of secretaries, and realized that he could go off on his own and use a computer to get everything done.
Even though Jeff says its tragic to watch dedicated, passionate entrepreneurs struggle on for far too long, he also had a hopeful piece of wisdom, which is that a business may fail, but an entrepreneur always takes his or her experience and knowledge to the next venture.
Without any prompting from me, Jeff told Danielle and myself that we absolutely had to join some networking groups.
He said that the payoff is gradual, and it’s important to invest time and energy into networking even if it seems fruitless at first. His words were, “You have to let it hibernate and hatch.” You may meet someone at a networking event and make a sale right there, or you may experience the payoff in unexpected ways much later on.
When Jeff goes to a networking event, he asks himself how he can bring genuine value to other people first. He has built a strong, successful network by helping other people get business.
Jeff mentioned a myriad of benefits of networking, including:
- It enables you to mingle and discuss business with a very intelligent and motivated and sincere group of peer business people, and you will gain knowledge by osmosis, if not directly.
- Networking can also give you mentors that have experience and perspective beyond your own.
- You will get second, third, and fourth generation leads from networking effectively.
Jeff had great advice for new businesses:
1. Be particularly careful about the form and content of contracts, invoices, and other business documents. They should be not only legally effective, but can also be used at marketing tools based on clarity and organization, so that when you present them to clients, they assist you in the moments of closing. Those documents are your sales people.
2. Be sure and have an extremely updated and accurate financial system, a dashboard you can see immediately.
3. If you’re not keeping track of the financials yourself, make sure you have proper financial controls so there are always at least 4 eyes on the books – talk to a CPA
- The best way to approach networking events is to think, “How can I bring value to other people?”
- Networking is a cumulative effort and you never know the true effect of meeting someone until much later
- Sometimes letting a business go is the best thing you can do for your career
It was interesting hear the perspective of a very successful entrepreneur who has had a lot of experience with networking and building a business. What struck me about Jeff was his sharp insight and clarity on many aspects of business, from how to build a community through networking to how to prepare contracts to maximize time efficiency. It was clear that he is very thoughtful and that he really wanted to help Danielle and myself.
Want to connect with Jeff? Check out his LinkedIn Profile here.
1 step you can take to grow your network today:
Take time to get to know someone even if there’s no immediate “payback.” You never know where that relationship will lead in the future.