I just mentored a very successful Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. Her issue: she loves being a CLNC® consultant and the freedom that comes with it, but the operational part of her business sometimes takes the wind right out of her sails. The parts she enjoys include the marketing, working with her attorney-clients and locating experts, but the processes necessary to keep her CLNC subcontractors on track can suck her spirit dry.
Every business is made up of thousands of details and whenever I try to manage those details without processes and systems, the wind goes right out of our sails. I want as many things to be automatic as possible. I don’t want to be thinking about something small when I can be thinking about something big. I don’t want to be searching for a lost file because it’s been misfiled – I want to focus on important projects.
In the early years of my legal nurse consulting business I woke up one morning and had a reality check: my lack of systems and processes were kicking my ass. My office looked like a shipwreck with the debris and detritus strewn about everywhere by the tide of day-to-day business. I was so busy working cases I had completely ignored my business and the systems necessary to manage it properly. I could no longer afford to take 10 minutes to locate this file, that file or the standards I’d carefully researched and just as carefully misplaced.
I needed to act fast to avoid drifting out to sea and I tackled the problem with a vengeance and determination equal to that of Captain Ahab’s in his pursuit of the great white whale. My goal: to be as fast and sleek as a sailboat. Today if you walked into my office you would think I have no work to do, but that is just an illusion, one that has accelerated my productivity.
Your CLNC business should run like a state-of-the-art sailboat. Sleek and built to run with the wind. Look at the way a sailboat is constructed. Each part is there for a reason and each part is necessary. Not only does each part (the mast, boom, boom vang, fairlead, hiking straps, thwart, main sheet and even the centerboard) need to be in working order, all the parts need to work together. The failure of one part of the boat, for example a mainstay tearing loose, could lead to the failure or even sink the entire boat.
The same is true for your legal nurse consulting business. Just like the success of the sailboat depends on thousands of details, so too does the success of your CLNC business. This includes all the details that some people might find tedious (filing or organizing medical records), not just the details that we enjoy (high-fiving your favorite attorney-client after a favorable settlement or depositing retainer checks).
Like a sailboat, if you neglect one part of your CLNC business you run the risk that the part might fail. Your enterprise might not sink right away and might float along with the wind or current for some time. It may not even be obvious that your ship is sinking until you wake up one day with water lapping at your ankles. If something major happens, say you lose a big attorney-client, that could be the equivalent of a main sail tearing loose. But something less obvious, like failing to retie the connection with prior attorney-clients while you’re busy marketing to new attorney-prospects, might be like not doing the regular maintenance of cleaning and oiling the pulleys or cranks you need to raise your sails. While your main sail is up you’re able to make headway, but if you need to hoist the jibs later or fly your spinnaker you may not be able to and may end up floundering in the wind.
Successful people create systems to make taking care of those details as simple and easy as possible. Successful Certified Legal Nurse Consultants know that creating checklists, policies, intake forms and shared calendars for staff and subcontractors goes a long way toward easing their workload. The more systems you have in place the less time you spend reinventing the wheel or recreating each detail when a new case comes along, you get a new attorney-client or hire a new CLNC subcontractor.
My advice to the Certified Legal Nurse Consultant was to hire a “first mate” to engage in those pesky details for her. To paraphrase Yoda, “Details, engage them you must.”
Business isn’t always smooth sailing, but with the right systems for taking care of the details in place, your journey will be more like crossing the “Drake Lake” than rough, category 7 sea swells of the Drake Passage that Tom and I experienced on the way home from Antarctica.
Success Is In the Details!
P.S. Comment and share what systems you’ve put in place to keep your CLNC business on an even keel or how not having systems in place kicked your ass.