Starting a solo practice sounds easy in theory but if you don’t avoid these pitfalls you will surely fail.
Congratulations, you’ve decided to go solo! Whether you are coming from a large firm with numerous resources or you are fresh out of law school, starting your firm can be both exhilarating and challenging. With the proper planning and resources, you can be very successful and it doesn’t have to cost you both time and money.
Here are some things to consider before you go solo.
Start before you leave your firm
There are many things to consider before starting your solo practice. It will be very helpful if you can start setting up as much as you can beforehand. Think about getting your business registered, securing office space or Virtual Office, deciding on phone service, and getting your website designed and ready to go. This will save you valuable time once you make the change. If you are coming from a firm, you may already have a client base to draw from. If you are just starting, think about marketing to your target audience.
Get your cash flow in order before you start
When venturing out into a solo practice, one of the first things you will probably think about is money, especially if you are leaving a lucrative position in a large law firm. Instead of thinking about this in terms of taking a pay cut, think of it as an investment in yourself. To help stay afloat during the start-up, you should consider having about 2-3 months of your expenses saved up. This will free you up to think about your practice and not how you will pay the bills each month.
Manage your Workload Wisley
If you’re used to working with other attorneys, it can be difficult to be on your own. You may not have a colleague readily available to assist you with a particular case. Plus, you may be handling all of the administrative duties as well. On the plus side, any decision-making is yours alone. No need for lengthy discussions with your team. Be sure that you have plans in place before you start so that you do not experience burnout.
Consider your Reputation
Working with a partner or in a large law firm, you need to be aware of how the other associates’ actions affect your reputation. It can be difficult to navigate partners with a different work ethic and you may be liable for their actions. Choosing to work alone eliminates those possible issues, giving you the freedom to run your practice your way. And as a bonus, you may also feel happier.
Ask for help
This is probably one of the most important and also difficult things that you can do for your business. Knowing when you need help and reaching out to someone who can assist you is a strength, not a weakness. Use any available resources at your disposal. From a discussion with a colleague to using an app, explore your options to help your business become successful. And don’t be afraid to say no. Your time is valuable so use it wisely.
Building your client base
Marketing and networking are key to building your client base. Consider reaching out to former clients with your new branding. Use Google Adwords, especially if you have a niche practice. And don’t forget about using social media to get in front of potential clients. The important thing is to have a well-laid-out plan in advance.
Remember to take care of your physical and mental health
For lawyers, the job itself can be very stressful. Add to that the task of branching out on your own and trying to support yourself and your family. Be aware of how you feel. Are you overwhelmed or feel physically drained? Remember to eat right, get plenty of exercise and sleep, and don’t forget about your social outlet. Take time out for fun.