Sept 8, 2021
The Mass Business Podcast
Season 1, Episode 8 – Mutually beneficial Relationships Through Networking, with Ashley Dotchin
Today, I have a conversation with episode 8 guest, Ashley Dotchin. She’s an estate planning attorney who is passionate about helping families create happy, secure futures, knowing they left behind a legacy that goes far beyond money. Ashley and I discuss challenges she’s learned from in her early years of working for herself and why it is so important to educate and follow up with your referral partners and networking contacts. Also, we touch on why the networking piece is such an important one because just having a website is only the first piece of the puzzle. Ashley tells us why she goes into a networking event with no agenda and gives us tips on hiring a business coach. Are you ready? Let’s go!!
Resources mentioned on this episode –
Contact Ashley –
If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on our show please visit us on Facebook or at our Website –
Matt Ward 00:01
Welcome to episode eight of the mass business podcast. My name is Matt Ward. I am your host, professional speaker, author, and referral consultant. And today we have a fantastic guest for you. Her name is Ashley Dotchin. Ashley has chosen to focus on estate planning, after watching her dad and uncle navigate the probate process and witnessing firsthand how important planning is to families. She is passionate about helping families create happy, secure futures, knowing they left behind a legacy that goes far beyond money. She’s also been featured in money geek, the confident retirement, Liz on biz, and now the mass business Podcast. On a more personal note, she’s a mom to two young children who loves going to the beach, traveling, and reading business books, like my book, more word of mouth referrals, lifelong customers, and raving fans. Please join me in welcoming Ashley to our podcast. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Intro – Welcome to the mass business podcast where small business owners, also known as risk-takers share their stories about the growth of their business and themselves. Our interviews and our content is focused on growing a small business and understanding networking and referrals. I say it all the time. And I’ll say it again today. You never know where your next referral will come from.
Hey, welcome to episode eight of the podcast. Ashley, thanks for joining us.
Thank you so much for having me.
So you hail from Concord, Massachusetts. Yes. What’s that the minute men right, the minute men, were there.
So you do estate planning, tell the audience who’s listening on on a favorite podcast app or watching on YouTube what exactly it is that you do.
Ashley Dotchin 02:13
So I’ve been focusing on helping families, mostly between the ages of I would say 35 to about 60 seems to be my key demographic. And what we do is we help them look at what their goals for their life are and what they’d like to happen after they pass away. So that we can make sure that we come up with a plan that’s going to protect them, protect their assets, and help them leave their family with a legacy that they actually want versus the mess that we see so many times.
Matt Ward 02:46
the one that the state gives us or takes from us, or however that all works. I just know one thing. At the end of the day, I don’t want them meddling in my affairs. So I need stuff to protect my things.
Ashley Dotchin 03:01
Right, exactly. And so we kind of start with, you know, here’s the state’s plan for you. What do you like about it? What do you hate about it? And what can we do to fix it?
Matt Ward 03:12
Oh, yeah, and, folks, if you’re listening, if you want the government to do anything with your stuff, you probably shouldn’t be listening to this podcast, not the way to go. So um, you know, we talk a lot about small businesses and the growth of a small business. And we define a small business, not how the government defines it $250 million or less, we define it as like 10 or less. And the expanded audience is more like 20 people or less than a company. But most of the people that are listening to this podcast, are one and two person companies. Right? That’s what you are, right? I mean, it’s you. What has been your growth trajectory? How long have you been doing this? And what’s it been like to, to build a business and grow?
Ashley Dotchin 03:57
Yeah, I started my business December 1 of 2017. And in some ways, I’m kind of glad that I didn’t understand all of the things that went into owning a business. But I did learn, you know, pretty quickly, I went to law school, I did not go to business school, I didn’t really know how to run a business. I had this false sense that if I set up an office, if I created a website, people would just come and I didn’t realize all the behind the scenes, networking pieces of it and the referral partners. And so, you know, really, that first year was a really big eye-opener for me. And I learned a lot thankfully, I had some good mentors, and they passed on some really good pieces of information. But um, you know, I think every year has gotten a little bit easier. And I think now, you know, three and a half years out, we’re getting to the point where we have that community built and we have referral partners, you know, kind of nailed down a little bit more. And it’s easier to kind of be able to judge what people need or have to explain what we do to other people so that we can get those relationships.
Matt Ward 05:15
And I think you bring up something very interesting, Ashley is that, you know, I, for 16 years, I owned a web company in Gardner. And, inconcert web solutions. And I used to always tell people, you can build a website, but they’re not going to come. Like that’s not how this is not Field of Dreams, like you. This is just, a website is never done. Like it’s just one part of your marketing strategy. But funny enough, the way I sold websites wasn’t through the website, our own website was not the way I sold websites, through networking, through networking groups, and chamber groups and going out and meeting people and going to every independent networking group out there. Everything I could find on Eventbrite and meetup and network after work, and BNI and Amspirit, all these different places, I would go to all these places, and I would meet all these people, and then I would build these relationships. How important in your mind is networking and relationships as a whole?
Ashley Dotchin 06:17
Honestly, I think it’s one of the most important pieces, you know, the website, like you said, it’s important. And it’s a good place for people to be able to go find, you know, kind of base level information, we upload blog posts, weekly, and, you know, we can see that people are coming in looking at it, but almost none of my clients will say that they found me online, and usually it’s a referral of some kind. And, um, you know, same they do when I started the office, once I realized how important networking was, it’s going to every networking event that you can find and then getting business cards and following up and I had somebody tell me that you should schedule seven to 10 meetings a week. Follow up to those people that you meet at networking events, to get to know more about them, get to know about their business, and see how you can benefit them without really having to worry about how they’re going to benefit you initially.
Matt Ward 07:14
I need my soundboard. And Can I get an amen? Exactly what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to, and so in my book I wrote that people don’t do business with who they know like and trust, they do business with who they know, like, trust, and care about. And if you take interest in other people, if you care about them, if you help them grow, if you give them knowledge, give them effort, give them education, if you invest in other people, they will invest in you and they will do that by reciprocity. They will give you referrals. That’s why one of the old school BNI mentalities is givers gain, the more you give, the more you’ll get. It’s what Ivan Meisner wrote in his in his book, it’s what BNI was the foundation of and, you know, for those people that like BNI or don’t like BNI, that’s an irrelevant topic. The point is, the structure behind it. The principles behind it are, are what drive people they work, you know, and in any networking group, you go to whether it’s BNI related or not, you find that in order to develop trust, you have to invest in others. And I think that’s a big part of it. You know, my grandfather told me when I was 18, that it’s who you know, not what, you know.I fought him on it, Ashley, I said, If I get into a conversation with somebody, and I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m gonna look like an idiot. And I’ll never forget, I was 18. He was the judge for the Social Security Administration in Washington, DC. And he said, Boy, let me tell you, it’s who you know, not what you know. And now, you know, when I was like, 30 something years old, I realized, Oh, God, I hate that my granddad was right, you know. So as you’re constantly growing this small business, you know, we’re focused on season one about educating yourself. And in the theme behind our season, it’s just that, you know, a business owner never stops growing, right? We’re always trying to learn new stuff. So tell me what have you learned recently?
Ashley Dotchin 09:21
Honestly, recently, I learned that I was spending so much time trying to streamline processes for the intake for clients, and to make sure that everything was as simple for them as possible. And I really was not aware of all the technology out there and ways that you can integrate everything to actually make it as seamless as I thought that I was making it. So that’s been a really big eye-opener for me, and it’s cut down on the amount that I actually have to do every day. You know, I don’t have to remember to send out the confirmation email and send us a questionnaire packet.
Matt Ward 10:00
Alright, so let me stop you right there, because everybody’s gonna want to know, what are you using? What tools are you using to make this happen?
Ashley Dotchin 10:06
So I started using Infusionsoft. And so I linked it with appointment core. And then I set up templates and things like that, so that when somebody books an appointment, they automatically get the reminder email with the zoom link, the appointment location, the appointment time, and then they get another email that follows up with, here’s the link to the form online that you can fill out, you can save it, you can go back to it, you know, versus before I was sending out paper versions and asking people to mail it back to me, and nobody really wanted to go to the post office.
Matt Ward 10:45
I thought you might actually send me a fax about this podcast. No one’s doing that, who’s doing that? No one.
Ashley Dotchin 10:53
So I thought, in my mind, you know, mailing out these paper forms, people were like, Oh, great, we can fill it out, we can take our time, and we’ll just mail it back. But nobody wants to do that.
No, no, did you implement all this stuff yourself? Or did you get help?
I got help. Um, so I had been talking to another estate planning layer that I know. And she had mentioned that there was this person she was using out in Colorado, who just worked with estate planning lawyers and got everything set up and built out and kind of squared away. And then you take it over, and you know, you can access it, she can access it and just make sure that everything runs really smoothly and honestly, and it’s made a huge difference. I think my clients are a lot happier, I’m a lot happier.
Matt Ward 11:43
That’s, that’s so great. I mean, we’ve been talking with a lot of past guests about the need to outsource certain things. And we’re going to talk a lot more about that in season three, outsourcing your weakness, but finding the right help finding the right talent, but focusing on the right things is I think key in small business do you struggle with, with identifying the things to focus on to grow the business versus doing the tactical work of an estate planner?
Ashley Dotchin 12:10
Yeah, I’ve definitely struggled with that. You know, like I said, Before, I realized really quickly, I didn’t go to business school, trying to figure out how to prioritize tasks and how to, you know, delegate is something that I’ve had to become a lot better about. So in the last year and a half, I’ve been working with a business coach. And it’s been really helpful, because I have somebody else to keep me accountable and to make sure that I’m actually doing the things that I say I want to do, and I’m hitting my goals versus, you know, just continuing to push them out because I didn’t learn to delegate or I didn’t prioritize the right things. So I feel like I’ve learned a lot more about my business, honestly, in the last year and a half since I hired her. So…
Matt Ward 12:58
What one what one tip, would you give the listening audience whether it’s on their favorite podcast app or watching on YouTube, what one tip would you give them? In regards to hiring a business coach? What’s the one thing that kind of tipped the iceberg for that coach that you hire?
Ashley Dotchin 13:12
Yeah, so I found one that she only works with estate planning attorneys. So she is familiar with, you know, the ins and outs of how this started a law firm how to grow the law firm, and a little bit about, you know, the the various pieces that go into it, but I think finding somebody who’s specialized a little bit more, and exactly what you’re doing and what you’re trying to do versus you know, just picking any business coach because you know, your friend used them or your neighbor used them and you just got their name, and they don’t necessarily focus on on one type of thing. Because I think that as you grow and expand there are so many areas that start to become honed in a little bit more to exactly what you’re doing instead of a generalized business.
Matt Ward 14:03
Absolutely, yeah. And I, you know, I wrote my new book is coming out in the fall of this year, that we need to niche down into the target market as service providers as a whole. You know, and you talked about sort of the age range. But there are so many other service providers, whether the coaches, consultants, videographers, photographers, it doesn’t matter, you know, the virtual assistants, people like that, once they, I think it’s important for them to hear you say that you chose somebody who specializes in the market that you work in. Because that’s validation, that they should be doing that, but most, most business owners don’t do that. Because they fear that they have is that they’re going to be giving up work. And then what I wrote about my book is that it’s not that you’re not going to take a client, who’s not in that market. It’s just that when you spend time, money, and effort to market your business, you’re going to do so in that market. And you’re probably going to be the only fish in that pond. And how many other coaches? Did you run across that? Just coach estate planning attorney?
Ashley Dotchin 15:14
Yeah, none? None. I think, since I met her, she’s mentioned a couple other business coaches.
So she knows, just she knows her competitors that are in the industry as well.
Right. But there were really there weren’t many. And it’s surprising, honestly, because, you know, like you said, when you start to really focus in on, on what your target market is, and yeah, you take people outside of it, but it just makes your whole life that much easier. And it makes it easier to, you know, find your ideal clients and, you know, find the best ways to help them versus trying to appeal to everybody, and you can’t please everybody all the time.
Matt Ward 16:01
No, you can’t tell me what you’re struggling with in small business. Now, let’s be authentic and transparent with the audience. What’s the biggest struggle in small business right now for you?
Ashley Dotchin 16:13
I am still struggling with the delegation piece of things. I recently brought somebody on to kind of start to pass off smaller tasks. And, you know, maybe by the end of the year, I’ll work my way up to passing off some of the larger things, bringing on a second person. But delegating for me has been really hard, because it’s just when I do something, I know what’s going to get done. And I don’t necessarily have……
Matt Ward 16:47
I’ve talked about this. I’ve talked about this on previous episodes of the podcast that the mantra that I have for everybody is trust, but verify. Yes, right. Because done is better than perfect. Right. So you can review this stuff you can you can verify that the work is getting done. And once that level of trust continues to rise, once you verify that you’re gonna delegate more. On Episode Seven, we had Shannon Ortega on, and he talked about how he hired, brought on somebody to manage his calendar. And she looked at him and said, Shannon, your calendars full next week? He’s like, Yeah, she goes, Well, that’s what you hired me to do. What do you need me for? He’s like, yeah, I need to do a better job and delegate. Right. So, um, so the problem I see with small business owners, I see this with my referral clients all the time, is that they are so worried about something getting done that they do it themselves. And then what happens is, there’s all these other tasks that don’t get done. So what I was telling Shannon was done is better than perfect.
Ashley Dotchin 17:57
And it’s true. And I’ve been trying to remind myself that this year, and it’s been one of my new year’s resolutions was to become a better delegator. And slowly, I think I’m getting there. It’s getting easier. And I think that…
Matt Ward 18:14
If you pick the small things off, Ashley, like the smallest, smallest things that are on your plate, the smallest, most basic things, and delegate those, okay, and then just check them when they’re done. And you’ll be fine. And then you’ll be like, okay, that wasn’t bad. Or you’ll correct it, and you’re gonna go up the list from smallest to largest, or least urgent, urgent, or whatever it might be, however, you’re making that list. And as the trust grows, over time, you’ll feel more confident on it. And that’s what I had to do. Right, I was a small business solopreneur. And the next thing you know, I had eight employees, right. And so if I wasn’t able to delegate, the one thing I knew when I owned an agency, actually, was that I didn’t want to design anything. I, you did not want me to design your website, I can give you a vision, I can give you an idea. I can give you suggestions, what you’re going. And my job was to make sure I wrote those down on the paperwork of the contract you signed, so that I could give it to my team. And I would always sit with my client and say, listen, okay, we’re gonna work together. That’s great. This is probably the last time you’re going to talk to me until your website is done, because when I get involved, it derails the whole project. I should not get involved. You don’t want me building your website. If you have questions, you have concerns I’m always available. But that’s why I have a team so let’s get you over to them. And it was always in when they call me They asked for an update. I’d say I did you call the project manager. I have no idea. Like I’ve no clue, I’ll call the project manager for you. So it’s like it’s it’s also making sure that that as business owners, I think One of the big takeaways about this whole thing is getting it in our own heads, that the more involved we are, the more in the way we are. And things don’t actually flow as smoothly, I want to be very transparent about this. The company that I sold has been doing far better since I’ve gone, making more money. And it’s very, it’s because we’re control freaks as business owners were the visionaries. And so, you know, but we shouldn’t do the tactical stuff. It’s a challenge in law practice, too, because you’re the one who’s licensed to do the law work. But that’s why I think the law, the law firms that I’ve seen be very successful are the ones that have great supporting staff members, the great paralegals, and office administrators and people like that, that can do all that stuff, prep all that work. And now all you’re having to do is review it to make the changes.
Ashley Dotchin 20:56
no, I definitely agree with that. And, you know, that’s definitely something I’m striving to do, you know, and then to next year is, you know, get one person who I feel comfortable delegating to that, you know, can take over a big chunk, and then maybe next year, you know, bring on somebody else if I feel like I need to maybe bring on another attorney to do you know, the the types of cases that I get phone calls for, but I really don’t enjoy doing. So I think over the next couple of years will probably expand a lot more. But for right now, delegation.
Matt Ward 21:36
As I like to say you’re going to look for rock stars, you’re going to end up with roadies, and eventually you’ll get a rock star. Exactly. I’ve been there. I’ve had plenty of roadies, when I thought I was hiring a rock star. Now I’ve got a rock star and I’m super happy with her. So it’s great. Yeah, that’s really exciting. This is some great stuff and and and I hope that the listeners are hearing and in and seeing the types of stuff that Ashley is talking about with her growth of her company. Make sure that you’re interacting with us on the Facebook page. Ashley and I will both be answering questions that you have with it. I’m not going to answer any questions we’re going to estate planning. But if it’s about the business, the Infusionsoft stuff if you’re an estate planner, want to connect with her about her coach or her Infusionsoft, implementer person. I’m sure she’d be happy to connect you and also the comments here on Youtube. If you want to reach out to Ashley for estate planning services, she’s based in Concord Mass. Ashley, how can people get in touch with you?
Ashley Dotchin 22:36
So they can either send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org or they can call me at 617-716-9715
Matt Ward 22:47
Awesome, awesome. Yeah, for those of you that haven’t thought about getting an estate plan done, you really got to do something. I mean, I was I was today years old, now I I actually have one done, and done it the right way and invested in it, it’s a good investment to have. You got to find the right fit person for it. You often don’t think that you’re old enough for an estate plan if you’re 23 or 25. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a conversation to figure out when is the right time for you. You definitely don’t want to leave stuff to the state. And, and obviously if you’re in the business of serving people, connecting with Ashley as a referral partner might be a great a great idea. If you’re a business attorney, you know, if you’re a CPA, financial advisor, those those type of people are going to be great contacts for Ashley as well. So make sure you reach out to her. I appreciate you listening to episode eight on your favorite podcast app or watching it right here on YouTube. Until next week, or actually until tomorrow, and the next episode. Take care everybody.
Thank you for listening to the mass business podcast where we focus on growing a small business and understanding networking and referrals. Don’t forget to like on your favorite platform and share out this podcast. This show has been produced by Heather Grant. Music by Cailte Kelley, all rights reserved. I’m your host, professional speaker, author, and word of mouth referral consultant, Matt Ward. Don’t forget to live happy, smile a lot, and high five everyone around you.