Have you considered starting your own practice? The pull towards being your own boss, making the decisions on how the firm is run, and being able to decide which cases you take on can be strong and can, some days more than others, be extremely appealing. It is, however, an endeavor that you should thoughtfully consider.
Are you ready to take the plunge and open your own practice? We help so many attorneys who are in your exact same boat, let us help. In our blog here we want to review some questions to ask yourself first.
1. What are your goals? Having a clear vision of your goals will serve you well in this undertaking. These will act as guideposts for all of the major and minor decisions you will make as you establish your practice. Why are you starting your own practice? How will your firm be different from others? Set your sights on your business mission and development. Do you have a specific vision for it? This can be essential to setting up your firm for success.
2. Are you financially ready? Dreaming is free, but opening a firm costs money. Before you can make those dreams of having your own firm come true, you need to make sure you have your finances in order.
First, how are you going to fund the startup costs associated with setting up your practice? Lay out the expenses you are going to need to cover up front. This may include insurances, fees, office space, office furniture, support staff, marketing costs, and more. Get a clear idea of what it is going to cost you to open up your firm, how much you will need as a cushion prior to your firm generating revenue, and how you are going to cover these costs.
Second, what do you need to live on and support yourself. We see too many attorneys, new and established, forget to pay themselves. We do not want you to be one of those attorneys. Even if your salary goals are small to start, such as just covering your mortgage payment, it is important to create the healthy habit of paying yourself in your monthly overhead.
3. Do you have the support you need? A supportive team can be critical in establishing your own firm, but not always tied to those physically in your firm. Although you may want to hire first, you may need a guide first. Especially when you are a DIY-er.
Surround yourself with those that are going to coach you, support you, and guide you through the exciting, but overwhelming process of opening your own practice. Do you have a mentor? Do you have a strategic performance coach? Having someone who has gone through establishing a law practice, as well as someone you can bounce ideas off of as you go through the process yourself, can provide you with guidance and an overall feeling of confidence as you make important decisions.
You do not and should not go this alone. Get the support you need to make your practice the success you want it to be.
At Practice42, we help set law firms up for success. From working with you to get a clear vision of your goals to providing support and mentorship, we can help guide you through the process of not just setting up your own firm, but setting it up to thrive. We encourage you to schedule a free Strategy Session with our team to find out more about what we can do for you.
When the entrepreneurial spirit is high, you may find yourself bursting at the seams to open your own law practice. It is an exciting time, but not the time to move forward without taking care of many important tasks first. Trust us, we know. We build successful law practices, and while we know the journey is different for every attorney, there are steps we can take to ensure long-term success.
As you move closer and closer to opening your business, be mindful of these 7 tips you should make sure that you address first:
1. Do your research. Before opening your law practice, know the industry first. This means knowing your market. Being aware of your competitors and what will set you apart from them. Be thorough in your demographic study as a part of this investigation to know what playing field you are getting into.
2. Know your audience. Do you have a clear picture of your target demographic? Can you describe your Client Avatar for your Practice Areas? Who will be needing your services? How will you help? Having answers to these questions can be essential to many aspects of your business, marketing efforts included. Defining your market means that you can better zero in on who you need to reach and retain for your client or customer base.
3. Set your mission and make it strong. Have you developed a mission statement for your law practice? You may have thought about it, but putting it down into writing, into something concrete can be beneficial to helping ensure you have your guiding principles in order. Your mission statement will be your guidepost. It will be the touchstone you can always go back to whenever you are faced with an important decision, and you will be faced with many.
4. Detail your finances. How clear are you on your financial situation? The more detailed you are about your finances, the better. Be scrupulous in your outline of startup costs, as well as how you plan to cover them. Nothing can tank a new firm like failure to plan for costs, both expected and unexpected.
5. Make a business plan. Much like your mission, you may have thought about how your law practice will be structured, managed, and run. Now is the time to put it all in writing. Outline the steps you will need to take to get your business off the ground. How will you foster consistent and sustainable growth? Include your mission statement and what services your firm will provide in your business plan, as well as the industry and market research you have conducted. Your plan should also detail your financials and your financial goals.
6. Get a mentor. When questions and concerns arise, do you have someone you can turn to for advice or just someone to act as a sounding board? Find a mentor, a professional coach, and ideally, one who is a lawyer and knows the challenges you are facing. This person can provide you with more support than you may initially anticipate.
Especially as your success grows, it can be lonely at the top and when you own your own law practice. Shifting into a focused training path with a performance coach can be a real game changer to know that you have someone to turn to for advice when you need it.
7. Assemble your team and support staff. Who is going to help your law practice run successfully? Determine the support and management roles you need in your firm and find the individuals who will uphold their respective responsibilities accordingly. Granted, this may be easier said than done, but it is nonetheless an important part of starting a business out on the right foot.
We know this can be overwhelming. We encourage you to schedule a free 30 Minute Strategy session with the team at Practice42 about how we can help you succeed in your business endeavors. Our comprehensive approach to building law practices that last, includes professional coaching and so much more.