VENTEUR spoke with Blake Harris, founding principal at Blake Harris Law, about his entrepreneurial journey. Through Blake Harris Law, Harris helps clients with Asset Protection. He launched his specialty asset protection law firm almost ten years ago and his experience helping businesses, entrepreneurs, and families protect their property has helped him become known for handling the complex and sensitive issues surrounding asset protection planning.

The Journey

The entrepreneurial journey is one of self-discovery. What have you learned about yourself while building your business?

I have learned that I enjoy helping people and managing the right people. I am very responsive and expect that of all Blake Harris Law employees.

I do not fit into the standard legal business model of wearing a shirt and tie and being in an office from 9 to 5. I like to work when there is an opportunity to work. I like having the flexibility and freedom to work from anywhere or take time off as necessary.

I am a naturally curious person, which led me to the unchartered water that is asset protection, where there is still a lot to be learned.

The entrepreneurial journey is often lonely. Have you experienced loneliness as an entrepreneur?

Yes, this is undoubtedly true considering that only about 10% of Americans own their own business.

Being lonely, amongst the 10%, suggests a negative state of being.

I’m okay with working alone since I am an independent and free thinker. I am content with working all hours, even through the night. I am in the field of asset protection, where there are very few who specialize in it. There are few organizations and, support groups in the industry, so I developed my own in the Blockchain Asset Protection Council.

I’ve also found that if you are working, you are never truly lonely because you are focused on your work. It’s when you get bored that feelings of loneliness creep in. You can manage this boredom by moving, whether that is through exercise, traveling, or progressing toward the goal of being the best in your field.

As a founding partner, you ultimately have to come to terms with the fact that there are many more worker bees than leaders. And, once you have been a founding partner for a decade, you almost forget that you are alone in it and just accept it as your world.

The Psychological Warfare

Entrepreneurs generally sleep less, work more, and let their health slip. This combination, combined with loneliness, often results in insecurity, self-esteem issues, and low self-worth. Have you experienced any of these issues as an entrepreneur? 

I take excellent care of my health. It’s foolish to compromise health for wealth.

Regarding feelings of insecurity, there is more of this in the first few years, where you may consider selling out and working for someone else. But, once you get past the training wheels and have a client base, a ranked website, referrals, and momentum, the insecurity fades away.

If your business is thriving, you are likely to have a healthy self-esteem and self-worth. Being in a business where you sell your services, it’s vital to have a positive self-esteem and self-worth. If you don’t, you probably shouldn’t own or run a business where you are selling yourself.

I have been a founding partner for nearly a decade, and I can’t imagine working for anyone else or being in a better position to help more people.

Newer entrepreneurs often equate their personal success with the success and value of their business. If their business fails, they are a failure. If their business succeeds, they are a success. Have you experienced this warped perception of reality? 

The answer is yes, and every entrepreneur (not just the newer ones) may agree.

If the business is doing well, I believe I am doing something extraordinary and significant. If the business fails, I, unfortunately, think I am failing. I wish this weren’t the case, but my business is who I am.

I think back to a quote from Warren Buffett, which is something along the lines of “When you get to my age, you’ll measure success in life by how many people love you, not by how much money you have.”

If that’s what success is, why be so concerned with money now? A potential client I may have missed out on now won’t mean anything in 50 years. What matters is that I have good relationships with family and friends. This helps keep things in perspective.

What are your three biggest fears as an entrepreneur, and how do you manage those fears?

Every entrepreneur is going to have fear and stress. You need to know that stress is simply the Universe’s way of telling you that there is something you need to address. If you do that, then all fear will subside.

You cannot operate a business under fear. If you run a business defensively, the business will not do as well, and you will not enjoy it as much.

That said, here are my three biggest and how I manage them:

1. Issues with Clients

Client selection, including turning down clients and adequately managing client expectations.

2. Issues with Employees

Employee monitoring and firing when necessary. One of the biggest challenges is firing people. But, building the right team is one of the most important aspects of a business. As much as I hate firing employees, it is a part of business.

3. Money

Money problems never end. I know people who are far wealthier than me and have money problems. You can’t let it consume you. I compartmentalize this part of my life and make all money decisions in about 30 minutes on Sunday nights. I do not allow money to occupy my mindset more than it needs to.

The Mistakes

What are three mistakes you made early on as an entrepreneur, what did you learn from them, and how can others avoid these mistakes?

  1. Keeping employees around who weren’t right for the team. I should have pulled the plug on them sooner.
  2. Taking on bad clients early on. I should have been more careful in my screening process.
  3. Losing focus when other exciting opportunities came along. At the time, I let myself get distracted. But at this point in my career, I know where my focus and specialty lie. In the long run, it’s okay that I experimented because it made me more confident in my business.

What are three things you see that are often overlooked by entrepreneurs you encounter, and how can other entrepreneurs be aware of these things from the beginning?

1. Looking to the Future

If you are starting a business, lean into the future–the internet, cryptocurrency, social media, etc. If you aren’t embracing the future, which is technology, you are planning a business that will probably not succeed.

2. Being Forward-Thinking

You have to be forward-thinking, which I strive to be in my TikToks, and by accepting cryptocurrency as payment.

3. Focusing on Client Satisfaction

Don’t worry about the money. Worry about client satisfaction, and the money will take care of itself.

The Successes 

What are three seemingly insurmountable obstacles you’ve faced as an entrepreneur, and how have you overcome them?

1. Didn’t Know Anyone

I started my law practice in a city where I didn’t know anybody. Many lawyers start their practice in the cities they grew up in or started their practice after years of building a client base inside another law firm. I did not have this luxury. I grew up and went to school in Florida, and then built my practice in Denver. I found my clients by leaning really hard into the internet–writing articles, producing videos, building a website, and securing speaking engagements.

2. Didn’t Know Anything

I work in a field, offshore asset protection, that is not taught in law school. The only time offshore trusts were mentioned in law school was by a professor who urged my class never to create an offshore trust. But I wanted to dig deeper. I started cold-calling and paying attorneys to teach me asset protection. At the time, I traded my clients’ pay for knowledge. I received training from Barry Engle, the author of Cook Islands trusts law, among other major players in asset protection.

3. Running a Law Practice That I Don’t Hate

It is said that “The goal for lots of attorneys is to not be an attorney.” Attorneys often practice law to pay off their law school debt and then get trapped in the profession. But, I set out to run a law firm that won’t cause me burnout. I hired the right people to work on some portions of the business that I don’t find as enjoyable and work with trust companies and offshore bankers who have become friends with time. These relationships have been important in keeping me going.

What are three ways you have managed to boost your productivity without causing burnout?

1. Take Breaks

You have to keep your priorities in line. It can be very rewarding being an entrepreneur, securing new clients, and watching your business grow. There is a temptation to neglect other important things in your life, like your health, but that is a mistake. Forcing yourself to unplug, work out, eat well, and sleep is good for your health and the health of your business. Force yourself to do something other than work. This is when you will likely gain clarification on an issue or opportunity that you have been neglecting.

2. Exercise

If you die early, you’ve done a huge disservice to yourself, your family, and your business. Health is the ultimate foundation and allows your mind to think better.

3. Have Fun

Do not be afraid to lean into humor with employees, contractors, and at some point, when appropriate, with clients. I like to share my personality. I would be burned out if I were conducting business under a fake persona. Connecting with me gives you a very authentic version of myself. Take a look at my social media, for example. And I point back to Warren Buffett, “I don’t care how many people hate me, I care how many people love me.” This approach has made some very loyal to Blake Harris Law.

The Advice

How can newer entrepreneurs develop a healthy work-life balance even when it seems like an impossible task?

The reality is when you start a business, you will have to work extremely hard. For a business to survive (most don’t), you must address things that cause you stress. One of the beauties of owning your own business is the ability to delegate tasks, especially the ones you find painful.

Do not be too hard on yourself. Do your best and focus on what you can control.

What three key pieces of advice would have made your entrepreneurial journey easier, and why?

1. Find a Focus

It may take time to figure out what you want to focus on, and that’s okay. But once you develop a focus, hound that message. Being the best at 3-5 things is impossible. Being the best at one thing is inevitable if you put enough effort behind it.

2. Ignore Naysayers

Surround yourself with a supportive group. Not yes-men, but people who support and believe in you.

3. Remain Dedicated to Clients

Again, don’t chase the money. Chase client satisfaction, and the money will take care of itself.

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