As you can probably imagine, starting a business isn’t cheap and could cost you a lot of money from day one. This could make starting a business a headache and a risky financial pursuit if you’re not careful. However, the initial time, money, and investment that goes into your new startup will vary heavily based on what industry you are going into, and if you utilize the power and tools accessible on the internet today.
For example, if you’re figuring out how to start a law firm, you need to make a plan that won’t leave you stressed out and broke. The traditional method is to open a nice and fancy office location, hire staff and bring them inhouse, have a ton of paper work/legal documents, and also pay for the transportation of documents and signatures to and from local clients.
Again, this is the ‘old way’ of thinking about how to start a business. Thanks to automation, technology and being able to work from anywhere, that is no longer the case.
Here are four things to keep in mind when you’re starting a law firm from scratch.
1. Find Your Focus
In order to succeed at building a law firm, you need to start with a strong focus on what kinds of services you’ll be providing. If you don’t have a focus for your solo practice, you’re going to struggle with building a reliable clientele. You might know a broad range of information about being a lawyer, but you need to carve out your niche.
Start your solo practice by seeing what’s missing in your local region. If there’s a shortage of estate lawyers, you could become the premier estate lawyer in your area. If there’s too much competition, you’ll struggle to find the clients that you need to get started.
Go with what you know. If you’ve previously worked at a practice, start by providing services that you’ve provided for other people before. If possible, ask for referrals, recommendations, or LinkedIn endorsements so that people can see what you’ve done and where you’ve been.
At the same time, you want your website and blog to represent the different types of services your law firm offers. Check out this site for some ideas on what you could be focusing on, and how they highlight these easy-to-find services right at the top of their site.
2. Team Up With Smart People
It’s essential that you work with smart people who have experience in the legal field. When you’re about to start your own law firm, you could be splitting things with other lawyers.
Just because you’re starting a solo practice doesn’t mean you can’t be smart about expenses and resources.
You need to start a practice where you can have everything that your clients need from you. You’ll need a base of operations where you can meet with clients, have private conversations, and where they can find you when they need something.
Talk to other legal professionals and see if they want to become partners on a law firm. If that’s not the path for either of you, you could still work together to save money on costs.
Sharing an office is a common situation for medical and legal professionals. The cost of real estate is often one of the biggest expenses for a new law practice. When you split with someone else, you can have everything you need at half of the price.
If you hire any staff at all, make sure they’re smart and savvy. Ensure that they’re dedicated to helping you build the practice that will serve your clients as best as possible.
In addition to hiring staff and focusing your efforts on building a team of powerful people around you, it’s also important to make sure your business is using the latest advancements in software automation and online communications. This ThinkSmart resource is a great reference guide on what law firms should be looking at when conducting business, and also how many of the agencies in the world are still running with ‘old world’ methods and thought processes.
3. Decide On What Expenses You Need
Starting your legal practice can cost a lot of money and you could quickly go into the red if you’re not careful. You need to make sure you start off with enough money to build your clientele while managing your expenses as you go. As mentioned earlier, ‘old world’ business mentalities can quickly have your business losing a lot of money from day, just from frivolous spending on things you ‘think’ you need, but really don’t.
Decide whether you need an office at all, to begin with. If you’ve only got a few clients, you could meet at their offices when you first get started. Until you’re able to comfortably afford the office you need for your practice, put it off as long as possible. For myself, I could work from anywhere… but I want to make sure my home office isn’t only somewhere that I enjoy being, but also a professional and fun atmosphere in the process.
You’ll need staff to give the appearance of a professional law firm. However, if you don’t have an office, you might have a tough time figuring out where to put staff. Running a firm out of your home is possible but less than professional. But again… if your law firm is more internet-based and has clients around the world, there might not be a need for a big expensive office.
You can have a virtual office weight the help of some modern service providers. With the help of an answering service, you could be having messages taken and calls redirected to your personal phone.
If you have money to hire a virtual assistant, you could have someone managing your schedule and answering client calls while you meet with current clients. Many answering services will give you 24/7 service, which will allow you to be getting new clients even when you’re away from your desk.
4. Segregate Time
Being able to separate your time while building your practice is essential to building your law firm. You’ll need to have time that you devote to marketing, time for clients, and time to take care of administrative tasks. If you don’t segment your time, you could end up spending twice as much time being half as productive.
Devote time every week to improving your marketing efforts. An hour a day to craft a blog post could go a long way. Even just a few posts a week can help to build your presence online. When you’re visible online, you’ll appear in search results based in your area as people look for legal services like what you provide.
Your clients need to be massaged at all times. While you might think that your clients will check in with you when they need you, it’s up to you to manage your relationship with them. Check in with your best clients even when you don’t think they need you because you never know what’s come up with them.
Separate time to take care of important administrative tasks every single week. This could be billing your clients, paying off your invoices, or making sure that all your bills and employees are paid. Whatever it is, you need to make time for handling this boring but essential work.
There’s No Single Answer in How To Start a Law Firm
When you’re trying to figure out how to start a law firm, you’re going to have to make some difficult decisions. It will cost you a lot of money and take considerable time to build a strong firm. With a few clients who bring in reliable business, you could build a firm that lasts for decades to come.
As stressed throughout the article, managing your startup costs is going to be one of the most important components of a successful business. Take advantage of the tools and automation that the internet has to offer, and also check out my guide for the best credit cards to apply for when you’re starting your own business. Many of these cards are very business and entrepreneur-friendly, and can help with funding your business in it’s early growth stages.