054: Sales growing 267% pa, aged 38 quit to be the 1 FTE, now 9 over 4 years in a disruptive legal firm that only has lawyers with 20+ years experience, no juniors and an obsession on culture and putting value for clients first (Mellissa Larkin)

Presented by Troy Trewin

Troy has worked intimately with 26 businesses in 20 years. He knows their numbers, understands their growing pains and people issues and has helped with most financial aspects, as well as having coached on leadership and management.

November 15, 2020

In this episode, I interview Mellissa Larkin, the Founder, and CEO of Peripheral Blue, a company that has been disrupting the way companies receive legal and consulting services by giving clients access to top tier, responsive legal and advisory services in a flexible and affordable way. Peripheral Blue provides legal advice and business advisory services to clients of all sizes including SMEs and ASX 200 companies across a broad range of industries including health, energy, IT, construction, rail, hospitality, food, and manufacturing. 

Mellissa is responsible for recruiting and managing PB Lawyers, Law Clerks, PB Consultants, and support staff. As well as developing and refining the strategic growth plans for the business. She was the 2020 Telstra Business Women’s Awards Winner, a 2019 Telstra Business Awards Finalist, and a finalist in the Women in Law Awards in two categories: Innovator of the Year (Individual) and Wellness Advocate of the Year. After 20 years in corporate law in 2016 aged 38 and with three young kids, she started a new type of law firm to disrupt the market. 

Questioning what value juniors gave to clients when they were being charged to clients to effectively learn on the job, the company only has highly efficient and experienced lawyers with 20+ years in the game. Mellissa started as the one full-time employee and they’re now up to nine, and sales have grown 267% year on year over the four years. The business has been funded entirely from profits. They are obsessive about culture and changed theirs to a collaborative one, not competitive amongst colleagues for billable work, putting value for clients front and center.

Mellissa felt they had succeeded when they won their first big piece of work then won a large old client. She feels the hardest thing about growing a small business is accepting the risks and making it happen. The one thing she says she would tell herself on day one of starting out in business is, “You can do this” Please join me in welcoming Mellissa Larkin from Peripheral Blue in beautiful Adelaide, Australia.

This Cast Covers:

  • Disrupting the legal and consulting service industries in Australia by doing things differently to deliver great value to clients.
  • Fostering more collaboration and changing their culture to achieve more efficiency.
  • Creating a business model that invests heavily in building solid and long-term relationships.
  • The challenge they had explaining their new way of doing things in a way that clients could connect with.
  • Their genuine and authentic attitude towards helping their clients and how it worked in their favor in terms of customer attention and conversion.
  • How taking the first six months of the law firm to build on the new concept helps in ensuring the firm’s success.
  • Transitioning to business ownership and the difficulty she had in breaking the mindsets and habits of working in corporate.
  • Starting from zero to sustaining a 267% growth year on year while maintaining a great culture
  • From one full-time employee to nine within just four years.
  • The big moment when she realized that her firm could go for the big commission corporate work.
  • The importance of being clear on who your client avatar is and what your messaging is.
  • Hiring top-tier trained lawyers who have worked in-house or for the government.
  • Funding the business from her own funds and growing it purely from cash flow.
  • Pushing herself out of her comfort zone to learn about marketing and selling.
  • The stress of making the necessary decisions and risks to facilitate growth.
  • Learning how to say no, prioritize her time, and value herself and her team.
  • Putting systems in place, being disciplined, and setting goals.
  • How bringing in two of her law school mates eased the hiring process.
  • Understanding what drives and motivates people as part of their focus on wellbeing and culture.
  • How she goes about seeking her own form of work-life balance.
  • Investing in learning about marketing, social media, selling, brand development, and public speaking.
  • How powerful LinkedIn is for a professional services company.

Additional Resources:

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Quotes:

“Success is about living life on my own terms and doing what I love” – Mellissa Larkin

“If you do stuff you like you do it better and enjoy it more, and everything else flows naturally” – Mellissa Larkin

“Say yes to opportunities and then work out how to do it” – Mellissa Larkin

“You’ve got to be very disciplined and structured” – Mellissa Larkin

“If you’ve made a mistake and you know, it’s your job to make it better for someone else” – Mellissa Larkin

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Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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