In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, New York City lawyer Joleena Louis discusses four of her biggest regrets since starting her own solo law firm.
I was recently asked what I would do differently if I had the chance to start my practice all over again? That is a tough question to answer on the spot, and I have since given it a lot of thought.
For the most part, I think things turned out pretty well for me, but there are a few things I regret.
Not Having a Clear Idea of my Ideal Client from the Start
One of my biggest regrets was failing to clearly identify my ideal client from the start.
Having a vague idea of who I was trying to reach made marketing and networking really difficult in the beginning, and it was frustrating to take cases that I wasn’t really interested in.
Once I understood the type of clients that I wanted to work with, things improved. I was more specific with my referral sources about who I wanted to work with, and clearly articulated the same message in my marketing. Soon after that, I began to get the type of cases and clients I wanted.
Being Afraid to Outsource
I’ve only recently begun to outsource and delegate work, and it’s been a game changer for me. My law practice is my baby, so it was really difficult for me to let someone else handle even the smallest task. And in hindsight, this did more harm than good.
By not letting go, I was spending way too much time and energy on administrative tasks. These tasks had to be done but weren’t bringing in money. Since I’ve started using a virtual assistant, I’ve freed up more time to work on things that will bring in money and grow my practice.
If I would have hired someone earlier, I think my practice would be even more profitable than it is now.
Taking too Long to Learn that Marketing Never Ends
One of the mistakes I made early on was putting marketing activities on the back burner when I got really busy. This resulted in not being busy (and being broke) in the following months when things died down.
Marketing is a long game. No matter how many clients you have at any given moment, you need to keep marketing to ensure that your flow of new business continues. The marketing you do today will pay off three months from now.
Now marketing and nurturing referral relationships are a daily activity that takes priority over almost everything else.
Not Starting Sooner
My last regret is not starting my practice sooner.
I kept waiting for the perfect time, but there is no perfect time. Entrepreneurship is for risk takers and if starting your practice is something you really want to do, you have to be willing to take the risk and go for it.
Overall, I don’t regret starting my practice whatsoever. I just wish I would have learned some of these things sooner.
Great lessons. I agree.
Yay! I’m so glad you got the outsourcing bug. You’re in great company because almost all my clients say, ‘why didn’t I do this sooner?’. Now you’re a Lifeguard like me, rescuing people from drowning in overwhelm! Thanks for the honest article.
Dina Lynch Eisenberg