It takes a team to build a quality business. Partly because no single person has all the expertise that’s required. And partly because no one has the time to do everything that needs to be done.
According to Michael Gerber in The E-Myth Revisited, most businesses are started by technicians, not business people. Technicians are people who make stuff or provide services. For example, someone works at a company baking pies and decides to open a bakery. That person might be a great baker, but he or she might not have what it takes to build a good business.
In my case, I’ve spent a career helping people with their business deals — buying or selling businesses, negotiating contracts with key suppliers, setting up new businesses. All these are the work of technicians. For over a decade, I’ve spent my days involved in business as a trusted advisor helping my clients make informed business decisions, but I haven’t been responsible for developing and executing a business strategy.
When I decided to pursue the business idea that has become Blue Maven Law, I knew I needed help. The first person I called was Bill Ellis. It was a great move.
Bill Ellis is a branding expert. He spent the bulk of his career doing marketing for Anheuser-Busch, a very significant icon in the history of St. Louis business. He’s developed a great deal of expertise and insight, not only in the technical aspects of building a brand, but also in developing product and service offerings that are relevant to the market.
I’m in the professional services business, so I’m very familiar with the fact that people do business with those whom they know, like, and trust. People hire me — and refer me to their friends and business associates — for just that reason. And that’s why I reached out to Bill.
Over the course of two or three months, Bill and I worked closely together examining the various aspects of my idea: What’s unique about the services I wanted to provide? Who would want to engage my firm? How would I reach potential clients? What’s the essence of the firm I wanted to build? What makes it unique? What are its values? How am I going to make money serving a market that’s not really appealing to deal lawyers?
I started with a jumble of ideas in my head that were difficult to express. During my work with Bill, the fog began to clear as the essence of Blue Maven Law began to emerge.
The experience was collaborative and empowering. Bill created a rich intellectual and emotional environment that coaxed ideas from me, tested them, refined them. It was a synergistic process in which I was 100% engaged, my creativity was affirmed, and my knowledge of the legal profession and market mixed with Bill’s marketing and branding expertise.
I could give a number of examples of how this collaboration helped my branding strategy evolve from focusing on back-office attributes like process improvements and quality assurance to client-facing attributes such as expertise and trustworthiness. But instead, I’ll provide a personal anecdote.
When it came time to write copy for my website and marketing collateral describing Blue Maven Law and the personality behind it, I just couldn’t do it. I had a case of writer’s block worse than any I can remember. I’m not good at writing marketing stuff, and I’m really uncomfortable tooting my own horn. After I had struggled with this for a number of weeks, Bill sent me some copy he had written, and this broke the logjam. What Bill wrote is largely intact in the About Blue Maven Law web page.
In that copy Bill wrote, “Perhaps more important is how Brian is regarded as a person. Caring. Friendly. Intelligent. Likable. Humorous. Curious. Thorough. It is Brian’s genuine and authentic approach to life and those he meets which make him stand out as a person and an attorney.” I could never write that about myself, although I’d like to think it’s a true description of who I am as a person and as a trusted advisor.
Blue Maven Law was born during my discussions with Bill. I don’t know what my firm would have been if I hadn’t called Bill, but I know it’s much better because he is on my team. I also know that I’m better as well.