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Life 2.0 for LexBlog

We’re doing it, moving our new & profitable company, LexBlog, from Seattle to Bozeman, Montana. Not only a good place to live but a strong technology & entrepreneurial base, good hard working people and real estate prices which will allow our growing team members to own something beyond a 600 sq. ft. condo. for over $200,000. Plus the people at Montana State University, a strong technology & business school, are a joy to work with. Just talked with them again this week regarding both hiring and conference facilities that can be used by local businesses like LexBlog.

Our current and new clients are going to find our service even better with the move.

Why move?

Believe me, it’s involved a lot of soul searching for my wife and I. Plus we have 5 children and their ties to friends on Bainbridge Island. I always told myself I wanted to be a lawyer so that I would not be working for some corporation which could control where my family lived. I never wanted to move my souse and kids. Here we are doing it again after leaving Wisconsin just 6 years ago, where we both grew up and then worked for 17 years.

But LexBlog is at a cross roads. In about a year we have brought life to a product that really did not exist before, a turnkey professional marketing blog solution for professional services firms throughout the country. The popularity of our product means its time to grow our employee base. In addition, with the new products we are discussing and new marketing technologies that will blow away what are currently being used by law firms and other companies, we are going to be adding a significant number of employees.

I love Bainbridge Island, the size of Manhattan with about 23,000 people. But if the company stays here, we may be forced to use a lot virtual employees (I like the camaraderie of a team in one site) and those who want to live on the Island would be looking at $500,000 plus for a starter home. There’s no way a young couple can raise a family like that – unless they both commute to Seattle for high paying jobs and end up stressed out of their minds. My wife is a nurse who loves her job. She hates her 3 hours of commuting 3 days a week.

Professional services firms and law firms need better Internet marketing solutions

The Internet has been around for 10 years plus. Law firm Internet marketing is lagging terribly. Innovation, in most cases, is way behind other industries. Sure there are innovative technology and Web development companies, but they are the exception. You think the dualopoly of LexisNexis (including their Martindale-Hubbell) and Thomson/West/FindLaw are going to lead the way in innovative marketing. If the last 10 years is any guide, that ain’t going to happen.

I am not a wizard in Internet marketing. But I know a few things, practiced law for 17 years and am a fair judge of people when it comes to hiring bright, passionate and innovative people who like being part of a cause.

I think LexBlog can play a big role in the future of Internet legal marketing. I think we can be attractive company for people to work for and grow, both personally and professionally. Heck, I hope some of my kids join the business some day. For that we need to be in a locale which is best suited for growth.

Why Bozeman?

It’s a real town with real down to earth people. We think it will be an excellent place for our kids to continue to grow. It has great outdoor sports whether it be world class skiing, hiking, trail-running, biking or fly fishing. How can’t it be sitting just north of Yellowstone? Plus we’ll be a days drive from where we grew up in Wisconsin.

It’s a great place for new businesses. Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine and author of Life 2.0: How People Across America are Transforming their Lives by Finding the Where of their Happiness, thinks Bozeman has exactly what it takes to succeed in business.

The Bozeman economy is set to succeed for a number of reasons. It has a university with a strong science and engineering foundation, it has technology companies that have already made it on a national scale and it has a relatively inexpensive cost of living.

I know that Bozeman is considered on the high end of cities in Montana, but compared with housing prices on the East or West Coast, Bozeman’s cost of living is nothing. And it is partly because the urban housing prices have become so inflated that cities like Bozeman are attractive to entrepreneurs.

As Karlgaard says, LexBlog does not need to be in large metro area to thrive.

Thanks to increased cell phone service, overnight delivery and broadband Internet, people can work as easily in the technology field from Iowa as they can from California. Plus, they don’t have to deal with the stress of an hour-long commute.

As to the cold, we’ve charted the Winters against Wisconsin. Bozeman, though much colder than Seattle in the Winter, is warmer than Wisconsin for December through February. Plus the winter recreation is just out your front door.

Though it may be a stretch, Dave Winer, a leading technologist and publisher of one the countries leading blogs – Scripting News, called Bozeman the Palo Alto of the Rockies this week. That scared a few Montanans who want nothing to do with California.

Anyhow, I am flying to Bozeman as soon as Sunday to start interviewing both marketing and tech people. I expect to have an office in place this fall. If things go well we’ll sell our home and have good local builder build us a home in an area in Bozeman proper among tall grasses and wild flowers with hiking paths running from the valley to the mountains.

Bozeman will then be home for our 5 kids, 2 dogs and start up company. We’ll be ready to challenge the world. You’re welcome to join us.

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