Business Development Strategy

Focus on your strengths to get ahead farther and faster

Many times lawyers tell me they want to hire a coach to be sure they are making the right investments of time and energy to build their practice.  Should they be writing articles?  Presenting?  Taking contacts out for lunch?  Attending networking events? 

It all comes down to the central question:  What activities are going to be the most effective?

The answer to that question is going to be different for every lawyer.  One of the first steps I do when I begin working with a new coaching client is to conduct a strength analysis. 

Why the focus on strengths? Because by focusing on what we are good at we start ahead of the game. We all come into this world with a unique set of talents, and over our lifetime with the addition of experience and learning we establish a foundation of knowledge, skill, and ability. The winning strategy is on maximising your strengths. Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Work Week puts it this way:

It is far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armor. The choice is between multiplication of results using strengths or incremental improvement fixing weaknesses that will, at best, become mediocre.

If you have never done a strength analysis then think of it as a detailed answer to the question: What am I good at and what have I got going for me? I have an article posted on the cooperative Canadian weblog with a short list of questions that can guide you in conducting your own strength inventory. Who do you know? Do you enjoy writing or presenting? The answers to these and other questions begin to form your inventory of strengths.

In addition you can try taking the free VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire found on the Authentic Happiness Web site. You have to register (free) on the web site in order to access the test. This test will indicate your top 5 strengths. It was developed by Professor of Positive Psychology Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania. Thanks to Alexander Kjerulf and his blog Chief Happiness Officer for passing on this tip!

Your goals provide the directions and your strengths (and values!) make up the foundation for your business development efforts. The right moves so often take advantage of the resources you have at hand, the people and contacts you have in your life, and your natural abilities, drive, and motivation.


About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.