Business Development

EP 60 – Alycia Sutor – Selling as an Act of Service to Become Authentic in Your Business Development

Alycia Sutor is the Managing Director at GrowthPlay and leads the Professional Services Team. She has more than 20 years of experience helping lawyers and executives accelerate their sales performance and revenue growth. Alycia began in this industry when she discovered the opportunity to help lawyers rethink how they bring themselves into being so that the world can rethink the value that lawyers bring to the world. Please reach out to Alycia at www.growthplay.com

Understanding Sales as a Service and the Meaning Behind It

One thing that Alycia became enamored by very early on was the idea of what would happen if the idea or notion of selling was turned on its head and instead was thought about as an act of service, especially for people who don’t choose to go into sales as their primary career or profession. Lawyers are doer sellers which means that they do the work and then someday figure out that to continue elevating their career they need to eventually sell that work as well. Very few lawyers are inclined to think about selling as something that feels comfortable to them. So, what would it look like to create a disciplined approach to selling as an act of service? Extending the timeframe of how and who the services are being provided for. It tends to feel much more authentic and helpful.

It begins by helping people to embrace the mindset because if you are going to sell or develop a business as an act of service, there are two fundamental skills. One is how we build authentic relationships with someone and that happens long before someone identifies as a potential prospect. How do you create a relationship that feels genuine to the other person based not on what is authentic or natural for you, but also what makes sense for the person that you are trying to connect with? It is a frame of mind of how you think about how you are bringing yourself into being with other people from the beginning, but also fundamental about how you are able and willing to solve problems that other people find value in being solved. The other person has to define what the most important problems or highest issues are that someone can help them with at the moment. All of these things start way before someone picks up the phone and it impacts every interaction that you have with people – whether it be a phone call, waiting in line with somebody, showing up at a networking event, how you answer an email, how you write the proposal, etc. These things ultimately leave a mark that starts to create the kind of context and evidence that you are somebody who others want to work with, not because they have to but because they want to.

How to Keep Your Relationships with Clients and Prospects Open

One thing Alycia is constantly advocating for lawyers to improve upon is their ability to prepare for important conversations, not just the technical ones or the ones that happen in the context of client meetings, but to prepare for important relationship-building conversations. She uses the Core Four as preparation as a framework to help people get into the right mindset. One –Always understand what your objective is. What is it that you are trying to do or accomplish in the course of the conversation that will make the other person leave thinking that was a good use of their time? Have a clear sense of what is going to be useful as an outcome to the person you are meeting with. Two –  If you are prepared, you can identify the kinds of questions that you might need to ask somebody else to figure out what they need the most. So, how are you going to learn more about their business, their issues, their problems, their challenges, the kinds of things they are most interested in? Your job is to be helpful in any matter, shape, or form. Three –  Something critical to be helping lawyers be more thoughtful is for them to think about what kind of key messages or impressions they are trying to leave behind. What do you want people to walk away saying or believing about you? Four – What are the definitive next steps or outcomes of a conversation that will continue to propel further relationship building or interactions? You might have an introduction to extend that gives you a reason to follow up or you might have an offer to share some insight, an article, a checklist, a template, some presentation materials. When you leave a conversation with this exit, it helps you identify what the next step is and what that other person feels is also useful or valuable. Your job is in part to stay connected and stay in the relationship in a way that is useful or valuable to the other person. If you give up too early, you are often cutting yourselves from opportunities.

If you have done your homework upfront by asking the great questions about what outcome your client or your prospect is seeking to get and how will they measure or know that has value, that begins to put your client in the headspace of what is going to be most important, but it also gives you information about what drives value for the client. Think about the 3 “A’s” to overcome an objection and the “A’s” mean that you would want to acknowledge the fact that you just heard your client or prospect indicate something important to them, ask further questions to help you understand what seems to be out of alignment for them, and advance particular possible alternative solutions.

The Levels of Working with Professionals to Develop Business Plans

There are three levels or ways in which Alycia and her team work with clients to develop business plans. One is working with individual lawyers to help them build business development skills or muscle and this is often done in coaching programs. In the coaching programs, they help lawyers build a business development roadmap for the next 6 to 12 months depending on how far ahead it may be. There is also a transition process in that coaching experience where they equip lawyers with tools, templates, and a plan and then help them transition support over to internal team members than can help keep that lawyer supported moving forward. The second level works with teams of lawyers helping them to get aligned and collaborate in a way that helps create experiences where people want to work with them. There is a clear documentation process and they use what is called a “playbook” which helps people on the team be clear on who is doing what and how each person plays specific roles and has contributions. They use this as an aligning tool to help team members understand what needs to happen and keep the momentum moving forward. The third and final level is at the leadership level which helps leaders of firms create growth maps that are living, breathing documents that allow leaders to figure out where they see the best growth opportunities and then how to align the people, process, and system to support the opportunity to create more opportunities.

The idea of selling or selling themselves feels inauthentic to lawyers, so how do you out-behave the competition by adhering to the Platinum Rule (do unto others as they want to be done unto)? It is not about what people think about you when they are with you, it is about how you make them feel about themselves when you are with them. If we can be thoughtful, other-centered, and generous people and do that with some discipline and intentionality, then business development has a way of being very authentic and that is how it becomes an act of service.

EP 58 – Mary Balistreri – How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results

Mary Balistreri is the Business Development and Leadership Coach at Quarles and Brady. She coaches attorneys both in groups and individually to develop action plans and strategies to in turn develop business. Mary focuses on discovering tactics to help individuals grow to their full potential. She is also certified in Conversational Intelligence. If you are interested in getting in contact with Mary, you can reach out via LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/marybalistreri/

The Importance of Trust in Conversations and Relationships

Trust does not just happen automatically. Not only is it important to check in with the mindset of the person you may be meeting with, but it is also important to check your own mindset before entering into that conversation. If you receive bad news before walking into a meeting with someone else, it may cause you to be closed off or resistant because your mind is thinking about something else. That will read to the person that you are talking to and could ultimately have a huge impact on what they hear from you. Trust cannot be rushed as you come into a situation. Find ways to empty your mind of all the things going on in there before you get into a difficult conversation or have to lead your team. We do not take time for ourselves to do this because we are often running from one thing to the next. Stop yourself to fix your mindset to be open when you go into each meeting. This is very important to business development just as it is important to leadership and really in any situation interacting with somebody.

The majority of things are all about trust. It is also easy to lose trust, especially in a working environment. Not everybody is going to be trustworthy. Trust is built based on actions so saying what you are going to do and then doing what you said that you were going to do are very important. Trust is also a basis for so many relationships. In the legal world, you want to be the trusted advisor for your clients and be the person that cares about them and gives them the insights that they need, but you also have to be transparent and notify them if things are not going well.

Understanding Communication Styles and the 80-20 Rule

There is a communications style test, similar to Meyers-Briggs but it does not have as many things going into a specific personality trait, instead, it is a communication style and uses the ISFT. There are 4 communication styles – Intuiter which is someone who is all about ideas; Sensor describes someone who is all about results and is very fast-moving and likes to communicate in bullet points; Feelers are those who are all about relationships, and; Thinker is someone who is all about the process. What do you need to do to have a conversation with someone that might not be in the same category as you might be? It is still a responsibility of leaders to have high-level conversations with their team to make their team want to produce. Spend some time asking questions and gain an understanding of who you are talking with when you are having the conversation so that you can adjust your style to that person as well. This is a soft skill that attorneys need to learn because they need to work with clients and develop those relationships with their clients.

People want to be listened to. This goes back to the principle of the 80-20 rule which is in a conversation, you should only be speaking 20% of the time and letting the other person (client, prospect, or whomever) speak the other 80%. The way that you do this is by asking questions and then listening for their answers. You may ask an open-ended question and get an answer from the client that sounds like a need – ask an additional question for clarity and that breath of what you discover is so much broader and larger and can lead to a stronger relationship with the client. At the end of the day, that is what drives business, but it is also what drives us in our lives to develop relationships with people.

Assumptions and Judgement vs Discovering Intent

When your mind is in that state when you are not trusting, everything that the other person says will be heard with that filter applied to it. Use language that is less accusatory and more open. Open up the other person by allowing them to talk about what the reality was for them. So often, we make judgments in our minds about what the reality is, and when we ask someone and wait for them to talk about it, we find out that wasn’t it at all. We put things onto ourselves and give things more meaning than they may have.

People cannot read intent, so there could be all kinds of different intent on the side of the person who’s trust was lost. If you assume intent, that is where the mistake might be. Sit down and ask the person what was going on and hear from their plan and allow them to offset what the intent was. Go in first without any assumptions or putting people in different categories. Have a conversation rather than giving a questionnaire. Ask a couple of questions to each individual to get a sense of their engagement and commitment, their likes and dislikes, and what their motivation is. Everybody has the capability to improve themselves.

EP 57 – Harlan Schillinger – The Most Common Gap Law Firms Need to Address to Increase Their Bottom Line Quickly

Harlan Schillinger is widely recognized as the “Grandfather of Legal Advertising”. He invented television advertising in the legal community when no one else was doing it. He began his career in television work in 1975 and began creating a series of television commercials for the legal category in 1977. If you are interested in speaking with Harlan or learning more about him, please visit his website and reach out at harlanschillinger.com

Determining What Others Are Not Doing and Doing That

When you are advertising, you are filling a gap and you get what you ask for in that. Once you figure out what other people are not doing, you need to do that. Harlan learned early on that it is always more important to listen to others than to talk when you are in a conversation. His wife tells him every day to be interested, not interesting. You could be the sheep in advertising and follow what everybody else is doing, but that does not set you apart from anyone else. One of the biggest holes in a law firm’s bucket is intake and conversion. It is filling in on what other people are not doing. If others are not following up on leads, or not tracking leads, or not tracking their business’ metrics, the solution is to do that and you will see the outcome when you do things like that. What You Don’t Know, You Don’t Know. 

The single issue that lawyers point out is that they count what they have, not what they do not have. Smart operators recognize that it is a business – it has to be run like a business and you have to implement very strong business tactics such as accountability and metrics. Do not look to another lawyer to copy, but instead look at what a successful business is doing. Lawyers often see what is in front of them, but they do not see what they do not see. Take a look at the calls you are getting and not the case you are writing. You can measure the cases, but if you do not have any initial calls, what are you measuring? To increase business, you have to figure out what you are not doing and that takes a lot of humbleness. Step back and look at what you do not see, that is where you will make the gains.

Strategizing Your Marketing and Understanding the Business

Talk to the public the same way that you would talk to a jury. You cannot fool a jury – you have to be real and you have to be credible. You talk to the public like you are talking to a jury because you are telling a story. You always have to be who you are and that is the backbone of Harlan’s strategy as well as the strategy that he employs on the people that he works with. It’s what makes sense. If you look at television commercials that are out there and all of the advertising, they all say “we will do this for you” or “we will get you that”. The lawyers that he works with separate themselves.

The biggest thing that lawyers are not doing in understanding and running their businesses are not looking at the metrics. The metrics do not lie. You have to follow the metrics and put those steps in place. You cannot run your practice on your gut, and you cannot run it with just folders and sticky notes. It is all about communication and building relationships. You need to be tech-oriented and you need to have the tools to be able to implement all of those things. Most law firms do not make it easy for people to do business with them. A simple question that you could ask during intake is, “What is the best way for me to communicate with you?” Could you imagine how much smoother things would go in the future if you discussed forms of communication and what works best for others?

It all comes down to what your hunger is and what you drive behind everything is. The culture in your firm and marketing is what will separate you. People are going to come to you not because they think they got a good settlement, but because of how you made them feel. Make your clients feel like a million dollars – that is how you build a business. Just because you are making a lot of money does not mean that you are doing all of it right. You fill a void and that is how you gain and provide business. Surround yourself with smart people and get your business metrics in place.

Operating Your Business Like a Sports Franchise

Begin operating your business like you would a sports franchise. Everybody on that team has a job. You draft players to either throw or catch the ball. If you do not have a team set up with everybody in place and the best players on the team, then you have a real challenge of winning a championship. Drafting the right players, having everyone know what their job is, and having a process in place is what is going to win a super bowl or any kind of championship or winning the business of your dreams. If you want the best practice or the best team, you better surround yourself with the best players.

Managing all of this is very difficult and understanding it is difficult. Surround yourself with people who are much better and much smarter than you are. The entrepreneurs of the world are ideas people, but they had to have other people to help them implement those ideas. Watching Michael Jordan in The Last Dance, they never won a championship until they changed their philosophy. They began to draft players that could work well with Michael. Michael orchestrated the team and everybody’s level for the team. They took the ball out of Michael’s hands and put motivation in his hands and he motivated everyone to step up and that is how they won 4 championships in a row. You cannot have just one person, it has to be a team effort.

EP 56 – Tim Corcoran – Learning to Adapt and Thrive as a Law Firm in the Ever-Changing Market

Tim Corcoran is a Legal Management Consultant with offices in New York, Charlottesville, and Sydney as a global client base. He is a keynote speaker, author, as well as a legal commentator and has been in the industry for the past 2 decades as a corporate executive. The things that he talks about and where he guides his clients is just practical advice – what he learned in how to run a business and what they may not have been trained to do when in law school. It is really about helping legal leaders use their intellect and their lawyer abilities to be more effective leaders and managers of their business, which is essentially what his consulting practice is based on. Please reach out to Tim by visiting his website at bringintim.com or by following him on Twitter @tcorcoran

Prioritizing Your Next Steps in Navigating the Pandemic and Beyond

Now is a perfect opportunity for law firms, and all businesses, to be taking a look at their operations and determine which of their programs, investments, capital expenditures, tools and technologies, and suppliers may need to be dialed back as well as looking to see what resources and maybe even people may not be as mission-critical in the short-term. Many businesses are being faced with several tough decisions to make right now and they are all happening at once. Tim has helped clients come up with a decision framework to do this triage. He looks at the term triage as how medical professionals do an assignment of urgency when they have someone that is present with symptoms and they cannot treat everyone and do everything all at once, so really they are trying to prioritize what is most important first. A short-term challenge facing many law firm leaders is that there is not a lot of planning done in advance for how to deal with this. Most businesses did not even have a plan that would accommodate the scale of this disruption.

Law firm leaders need to triage and prioritize what their next step is going to be. It is a 3-stage process that several law firms are currently facing. There was a Canadian minister that described their government here as dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic as a plane struggling in an intense storm. The first stage is landing the plane on the ground safely to ensure that everyone is safe and alive. The second stage is securing the plane on the ground and making sure that it will be safe to ride out the storm there. The third and final stage is preparing to take-off again as the climate allows for proceeding. The first thing that law firms need to look at doing is securing their law firms to ensure that they will be in business come the following day. Their first steps in doing so are to make sure that you have enough cash on hadn’t to make payroll, think about if you have enough laptops and desktops available to disperse to people so that they can work from home, if not, then you need to make adjustments to secure device policies, zoom policies, and conference call capabilities so that employees can use firm services to login and access the critical materials that they need.

Embracing Opportunities and Collaborating and Communicating More Effectively

We as a society, but especially as law firms, have been ignoring opportunities to embrace a flexible workforce. There are ignored opportunities when a valuable employee moves across the country for many different reasons and most employers just say goodbye. Why is that the case though if they can work remotely and be just as effective? Now is a great opportunity to say that we do not need a model where everyone is in a shiny building downtown, but rather to embrace a model where you can be everywhere. This gives a greater competitive advantage and a lower cost space which will in turn improve profitability. Take this time to put things into perspective. It is not about adapt or die, although some will not adapt and some will die, it is really about adapting and thriving. The market has changed, and is always changing, so how do you as a law firm or a leader in the legal community take advantage of what the market is telling you very loudly and very clearly?

Law firms structurally are not built very well for collaboration, even when everyone works in the same office or the same set of offices. This market change may provide a recognition to use the tools and processes that allow you to collaborate even when you cannot be right across the desk from one another. The missing link is if people are being effective in using these tools. With time, we can realize that there is a way to collaborate with others when you are not in the same room and if we take that lesson back, we may reform the law firm footprint so that now we may collaborate and communicate far more effectively.

Utilizing Technologies as a Way to Deliver New Solutions

The market has been fairly loud in asking lawyers and law firms to adapt to a changing world- whether a consumer or large corporate clients. The market has also said that there is a learning curve and that legal professionals should be more efficient at delivering service at a higher quality and lower cost than they were 5 years ago. While billable hours still exist, the market is saying that they no longer need lawyers’ permission to access legal services from alternate sources. Big law firms are now realizing that some of their work is being seeded to smaller law firms and all law firms are now seeing some of their work being brought in-house or to alternate suppliers where it is a lower cost of delivery. Some companies are delivering services to organizations that have legal needs and they are delivering them more effectively, at a higher quality and lower price, and with higher throughput. Law firms are now realizing that all of these things they said they cannot change and changing, and they don’t have a voice in it. Courts are accepting e-signatures, people are providing services electronically, taking appearances by video, and they are starting to see the same sort of thing in transactions. The things that used to have to be on paper are now submitted electronically.

Much of the market has mischaracterized the benefits of the use of technology to legal services. Buyers are more ahead of the game than the sellers. We need to first look at technology not as the solution, but as a way to deliver that solution more effectively and efficiently. Lawyers need better processes. It is not uncommon to look at a law firm and see how different lawyers have fundamentally different approaches to handling the same task, whether that be a legal task or an administrative task. The better course of action is to recognize that you have inefficient processes and that inefficiency sends a message to your clients and the clients are saying that the law firm’s inefficiency costs them more money. It is time to engage in process improvement and no one way has to win, there may need to be some variations. Process mapping, process improvement, and project management are not about commoditizing the law, they are about saying how to unlock the smarts that lawyers have if they have done these things before thousands of times. That approach will pave the way for technology we think will be necessary and helpful to deliver that. Technology comes after the business mapping and then the technology is one of the ways to deliver those services. So, how do we benefit from using technology? The price point can come down, but the profit can go up and both the client and the law firm are happier.

EP 54 – Chase Williams & Ryan Klein – Staying Ahead of the Curve and Implementing the Best SEO Tactics

The Importance of Tracking and Transparency in Reporting

Today, there are over hundreds of marketing channels while a few years ago there were maybe only 6 or 7. So, how do you know which leads are coming from which channels or sources? The fact that you can track everything at this point is such a game-changer, especially when it comes to ROI and those marketing dollars. To make that ask and spend more money on advertising though, you need to know where your leads are coming from. Some tools that we use for tracking and have found helpful are HubSpot, CallRail, and Google Analytics. This allows us to know how to quantify the amount of money that we are spending to bring in new business. It is also a good indicator of knowing when it may be time to cut back or double down in certain areas. You can do tracking through every step of the cycle and that is so important in making some of these decisions.

After tracking, you move on to reporting and the transparency of the reporting. When reporting, people typically look for more sophisticated tools and they want to see more transparency in the results of the campaigns that they are doing. Many lawyers are accustomed to reports being auto-generated, but it is also important to be able to analyze those reports and have experts scan the data manually to have findings and more opportunities based on what they found in the report. In addition to this, it is not necessarily only important to illuminate the positives, but you also need to be able to explain what is going on with the negatives as well and then determine an action plan to improve.

Thinking Outside the Box When It Comes to Content Plans

The average lawyer is writing their content based on regurgitation on the latest news and that is not necessarily the best approach in many situations. A non-generic content plan is coming up with a game plan to cover every possible way that someone would search for your services within your geography. But, how do people search? Most commonly, people search using a keyword or practice area along with a geographic modification or a long-tailed question. A good resource tool for searching for new topics to produce content is AnswerThePublic. It is also wise to be researching how people are conducting their searches and how the search trends may be changing throughout the year and even more year after year. Analyzing the content that your competition has is also a good idea to see if they are writing about good topics, but doing a poor job executing – see if you can do it better! It truly is endless the number of possibilities that are out there for content, but there is also a fine balance between an interesting and unique topic and a topic that generates volume. These are great things to keep in mind when you are working on your content strategy.

The Latest SEO Trends

One of the latest trends that we have seen recently is the use of emojis and how they are drawing user’s attention to meta descriptions or FAQ schemas. This is a way to stand out from everyone else. Structured data is at an all-time high as far as how much real estate it is taking up in results. People are sing FAQ below their search result and answering questions that is FAQ structure data and it has been incredibly successful for click-throughs. Another new thing we have noticed happening is that a lot of schemas have gone pretty far down the Google results page instead of only appearing in the first few rankings – this has been a modification that we have recently seen over the past few weeks. Google has been going into over-drive over the past six months with a lot of new things amongst everything that is going on. Within the past week, checkmarks now appear within the maps for online appointments that are available. You always have to be on these platforms and reading the documentation that is put out by Google. It does not just stop at structure data, optimization for voice search is a thing that people have been preparing for. Google looks up structure data and how you word things on your website, how you present information in a way that people can ask questions, and ultimately what is your website set up for.

We have also recently seen a dramatic change in the site speed test. Google has a page speed test that allows you to type in your URL and essentially see on a scale of 1 to 100 (100 being the best) how your website ranks in Google’s eyes. This number is calculated by load speed, certain scrips that are fired off your website, and there are always new things they are adding to the list as well. The implications here are higher than they have ever been because there is so much more impact. At the end of the day, Google is all about user experience and whether or not you are following the guidelines that have been set out. There is a whole new set of guidelines for how to rank your website for user experience and website speed. Change is coming slowly, but quickly at the same time.

EP 52 – William Umansky – Growing Your Practice Through Being a Leader in Your Community

William Umansky is the Managing Partner of Umansky Law Firm. William became a lawyer over 28 years ago and started as a prosecutor – he then did some defense work at a personal injury firm and has since started his own firm. He handles personal injury cases including car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall and premise liability cases, negligent security and sex abuse. William is also an author to the Amazon Best-Selling book “Power Principles of Success”.

Finding Your Driver for Success

William used to be very intent on not giving anything back. He was always thinking about getting the next case and driving to build his business, in which he did become successful very quickly. However, at the end of the day, he still felt empty inside and wondered what he was doing all of this work for. William did not understand his ‘why’ until he realized that everything he was doing was not only to support his family but also to help his clients empower themselves. When he figured this out, it became more clear what the purpose behind his practice was.

It is a privilege to practice law and you have to earn that privilege, but it is also a privilege to make money by helping others. William realized that there was so much more that he could do for other people when he joined some local committees. The Orange County Bar Association was where he helped other lawyers build their businesses, helped them get education for their practices, and helped them to understand that there is a community of lawyers that can help each other. The Rotary Club is another organization that William became heavily involved with which is where they believe in service over self.

Giving Back to Your Community

To empower other people is not to think about yourself, but to give. William feels that giving is way better than receiving and especially so during this time where there is so much crisis and negativity – you just have to keep giving. He found that it is a lot more fun to give – whether that be by doing charity work, building others up rather than tearing them down, and he even found that it is more fun when dealing with your competitors to simply not hate them. There are three important factors or areas in which you can give – time, money, and leadership.

One of the things that William realized after being on the board of several associations was that a lot goes into running a board and a lot of time goes into doing the activities that are required to serve your members. He found that giving money was not as fulfilling for him, but it is still very important. You can find ways to give money in your community like giving money towards scholarships, raising money for other people, or giving money to charitable causes. Leadership is an area that not many people associate when they think of giving. Leadership can be given in inspiring others to do good work, spreading messages of value, and inspiring people that may be more equipped than you to give to others.

Prioritizing Your Passions … Including Your Business

One of the most important lessons that William learned growing up that he still carries with him to this day is to follow your passion and then the money will follow. If you follow your passion, everything else kind of works itself out around that. The things that you find yourself to be passionate about, you will make time for. People will see that you are passionate about what you are doing and they will see that you love what you do and you are authentic. Others will see that what you are doing is out of love and not any other reason. Eventually, those people will cling to you and join you and they will want to give you business and help you.

It is hard to balance everything and that is why it is so important to be passionate about what you do decide to join and be a part of and then get rid of all of the things that you are not passionate about. It is so easy for us to say yes to a lot of things and then our balance gets thrown off. Priority depends upon passion, so prioritize your passions. Find the things that you like to do and then find a way to involve yourself in activities that connect you with those things and with yourself. There is never an excuse to get into one thing that doesn’t have a connection to something else – there are always things that tie to each other that you can find. No one person can do it all on their own either, you do need a team. Leveraging everything is to find people that love what they are doing and they will shine because of their motivation.

EP 50 – Brian Basinger – Understanding the PPP Loan and What It Can Do For Your Firm

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Brian Basinger is the Founder and Principal of Basinger CPA. Brian is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Tax Coach and helps small business owners navigate accounting, bookkeeping, and tax preparation. Basinger CPA is a strategic advisory firm that tries to go in-depth and be proactive in helping their clients on tax planning, accounting, and cash flow forecasting.

What is the PPP Loan vs Other Options

The PPP Loan (Paycheck Protection Program) came about earlier this year amid the COVID-19 Pandemic to give relief to businesses, specifically small businesses and is designed to cover at least 2 months worth of payroll, as well as rent, utility, and other expenses you may need assistance in covering. The PPP Loan is still in the 2nd round, although most people who have applied for it have received it at this point.

There are 3 other options you may want to consider instead of, or in addition to, a PPP Loan. The first of these options is a Payroll Tax Deferral. This allows employers to take the tax from 2020 and defer the employer portion of taxes, which is about 6.2%. In this situation, businesses would be required to pay half in 2021 and the remaining half in 2022 with a 0% interest rate. The next option was an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and provides financial assistance to small businesses that may have suffered economic injury as a result of a disaster. These applications have now closed, but applications that were previously submitted are now being processed and approvals will span over the next few weeks. Although this option is not free money, it is money on really good terms. The final option is for a payroll tax credit which applies to people, or family members, that may have been affected by COVID-19 and needed to miss time from their jobs.

Recent Changes and Updates Made to the PPP Loan

When the PPP Loan first came about in early 2020, it was intended to be used over 8 weeks to cover those 2 months of expenses. Most people who have already applied for the loan have received it at this point, but if you have not, then you may not be going through the right bank. The loan has since been extended from the previous 8 weeks and can now be used over 24 weeks. Now that it is 24 weeks, there is more than enough cost to cover the loans – the loan is calculated based on a 2 and a half multiplier of the previous year’s payroll.

Brian also presented two different scenarios in the case of having to lay-off an employee or employees. Previously, employers had until June 30th to hire everyone back or to make an equivalent job offer to somebody else. This date has since been changed to December 31st that you can hire back employees who may have been furloughed or laid-off. Businesses also have until December 31st to restore wage rates that may have been reduced due to COVID-19. If you are needing to lay an employee off and concerned about the forgiveness of the loan, an option is to apply for the 8 weeks of forgiveness (which is still available) and wrap of the forgiveness of that loan and then you can proceed with the lay-off. If you are letting an employee go with cause, you can do that if they have been deemed an appropriate exclusion to the head-count rule.

An additional factor to consider in the PPP Loan is that this loan is intended for employees who receive a W2, it is not for contractors or 1099 employees. Contractors are eligible to apply to receive their own PPP Loan, so they are not allowing businesses to stack them. It is one of those scenarios now where people who are hiring traditional employees (W2) and paying payroll taxes are being rewarded by being able to take advantage of the PPP Loan.

Guidelines to Forgiveness of PPP Loan

Although definitive guidelines for the PPP Loan have not been released, the ESBA, or Employer-Sponsored Brokerage Account, has continuously released a series of FAQ documents and this is currently the most authoritative interpretation of the bill and the legalities. There are still many unanswered questions, but it is expected that they will release an additional FAQ document to answer some of those. Banks have also received an additional forgiveness application so if businesses are looking to apply for loan forgiveness already, they will apply through the bank that issued their PPP Loan and the bank should have a modified forgiveness template based on the SBA or Small Business Administration. The template requires businesses to put together the application with all supporting documentation.

The main cause of lack of forgiveness has been not enough payroll, and some businesses do not have enough payroll to justify forgiveness. The new 24-week period is crucial because it allows extra time and also has moved from previously being 75% made up of payroll cost to now only requiring 60% of payroll costs. This has opened up more of a possibility to get forgiveness for other expenses such as rent, utilities, or mortgage interest if that is making up a substantial part of expenditures.

Most payroll providers have paycheck protection reports that employers can run and get their numbers back – employers must enter appropriate dates and it should give you payroll costs, state and local taxes, retirement contribution costs, and group health insurance costs. Once employers run and receive that report, they can plug those numbers into the application form and turn into their bank. It is encouraged to have your application ready to return to the bank along with any supporting documents you may have included so that everything is ready to go when you are ready to apply for PPP Loan forgiveness.

EP 49 – Catherine MacDonagh – Using Lean and Six Sigma to Improve Project Efficiency Within Your Firm

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Catherine MacDonagh is the founder of Legal Lean Sigma Institute and the developer of Legal Lean Sigma and the award-winning Legal Workout. She teaches and provides training and consulting services with a focus in project improvement, project management, operational and process excellence, organizational development, and strategy. Visit http://legalleansigma.com to learn more about the services Catherine and her team provide.

On This Episode, We Discuss…

• Understanding Lean and Six Sigma in Addition to Project Management
• What the Process Improvement Framework Is & How to Apply It
• Reducing or Eliminating Wasteful Tasks in Projects

EP 47 – Kwasi Bowman – Forming Litigation Strategies and Utilizing AI to Make Data Driven Decisions and Win Cases

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Kwasi Bowman is the Director of Account Management at Gavelytics. Gavelytics is a company that goes through records within state courts and extracts information on judge behavior to give litigators. Kwasi’s role within the company is to take care of current clients and make sure that they are aware of how to use the technology. He ensures everyone is maximizing use of the product as well.

On This Episode, We Discuss …

• Structuring Your Strategy as a Result of Analytic Predictions
 Value AI Brings in Ability to Adjust Predictions and Anticipations
• Future of AI and How That Affects Lawyers

EP 45 – Ted DeBettencourt – Increasing Your Law Firm’s Total Leads by Introducing Chat on Your Website

Ted DeBettencourt is the Co-Founder of Juvo Leads. Ted has been working in the legal marketing industry for over 11 years now and began Juvo Leads with his partner about 3 years ago after running a small legal marketing agency himself. Juvo Leads is a complete lead capture and tracking company for law firms and other legal marketing agencies; they help law firms get more leads through website chat, as well as track leads that come through via phone call and form submission. If you are interested in speaking with Ted or learning more about his company, visit their website here – https://juvoleads.com

On This Episode, We Discuss …

• Tracking the Source of Leads vs Tracking the Source of New Clients and Signed Cases
• What is Speed to Lead and Why Is It So Crucial?
• Website Mobile Experience and Tracking Leads via SMS