Once you realize that the essence of your law business is to solve problems by thinking…
You’ll then be in a position to optimize your business in magical ways.
Now, I want to tell you a story to help you better understand what I’m driving at.
It’s the story about how one fellow solved a legal problem that netted him millions of dollars.
But before I give you the details, consider this quote:
“The task is not so much to see what no one has seen, but to think what no one else has yet thought, about that which everybody sees.” – Erwin Schrödinger
The Million Dollar Idea
Ted Nicholas started in the publishing business back in the early 1990s with a simple idea. He got the idea because he was a hyperactive entrepreneur who had started a bunch of corporations.
Each time he incorporated, he was annoyed at having to give lawyers hundreds of dollars just to get a few forms filled in, usually done (he assumed) by the lawyer’s secretary.
It occurred to Ted that this probably bothered other entrepreneurs as well. Especially those starting on a tight budget, for whom hiring a lawyer to incorporate might be too expensive to even consider.
Ted did some research and discovered that incorporating was actually pretty simple easy because anybody could fill out and file the forms.
That is, there was no requirement that a lawyer file the forms.
And, he discovered there were important advantages (tax, privacy etc.) to incorporating in the state of Delaware, regardless of where a person lived and operated their business.
So Ted gathered up the basic Delaware incorporation forms and turned them into a simple How-To book. It cost him about $1 per unit to produce in quantity, which is what he did.
Ted entitled his book How to Form Your Own Corporation Without a Lawyer for Under $50, and started promoting it with small classified ads in the Wall Street Journal, newspapers, and business magazines.
With his new company that he operated out of his living room, Ted went on to sell over 1 million copies of the book. From there he went on to build a publishing empire that sold over $200 million dollars worth of products.
Eventually, he retired to Switzerland, spending his days skiing, drinking fine wine, and relaxing with family and friends.
The Moral for Lawyers
By solving a common legal problem at scale, Ted Nicholas made millions of dollars doing relatively little work.
But the crux of his success wasn’t how many hours he worked; it was the power of his idea.
The power of that idea came from thinking what no lawyer had yet thought, about that which almost every business lawyer and their clients kept seeing.
Is it easy to think of a way to make millions of dollars?
No, it’s not. Obviously.
Thinking is Hard
Million-dollar thinking requires you to think in ways that are radically different from how most people think.
Actually, it’s not appropriate to call what most people do “thinking.”
Because, as Bill Walsh famously observed, “when everyone’s thinking the same, nobody’s thinking.”
Most people have trouble thinking outside of the way their group thinks.
There’s a lot to unpack in what I just covered, and maybe we should just stop here.
So you can just think about it.
Oh, by the way…
The Ted Nicholas story is in a book called How to Make Millions With Your Ideas.
I learned of the book from Tim Ferriss, who recommended it in his mega-bestselling book The Four Hour Workweek.
Here’s what Ferriss said about it:
“I read this book when I was in high school and have read it five times since. It is like steroids for your entrepreneurship cortex.”
A lot of lawyers I’ve known convulse upon the mere suggestion they should start thinking like entrepreneurs.
Of course, most of them aren’t really thinking anyway.