Whether you’re dealing with slashed hours, compensation reduction or general reduction in legal staff, it’s never a bad idea to get prepared for going solo. The unfortunate truth is that recruiters are only looking for “portable” books of business (clients that come with you) to sell you into different law firms. The minimum that I’m hearing now is $300,000! If you are currently a service partner, you are at risk.
If you find that the only alternative is to go solo, here are five important steps to follow to make the transition easier.
Step #1: Develop a game plan
One of my mantras is ready, aim, fire. This means that you must have a written plan before jumping into action. This plan may only take you a few hours to create but will save you a lot of time and frustration later on. There are three elements to this plan:
Objective: What are you trying to achieve?
Strategies: What are the two to three activities that will make the objective a reality?
Tactics: What actions do you need to execute on to achieve the strategies?
For a sample plan or to discuss planning with me, please email me at email@example.com.
Step #2: Identify key business resources
Make a list of all the resources you have at your firm or that you might need going out on your own. This might include database/bookkeeping software like Practice Panther, virtual office space like Amata Law Centers, an office supplies list, or even a business coach like me to advise you. Speak to a few of your solo friends to ask for resources that have been vetted so you can make better decisions and waste less time.
Step #3: Get your brand established
While you don’t need to immediately come up with a fancy business name, you should look at getting your branding established right away. This might include obtaining your own website URL (website address), setting up your free Google listing, getting your name/contact information set up in all the legal directories and rewriting your LinkedIn profile (with a new professional headshot). Don’t overthink these things, just knock them out so you can set up for step #4.
Step #4: Begin networking
Now that you have resources and contact lists created, it’s time to go to market. Your best connections need to know a few things from you in order to be helpful. You must share your intent related to the targets that you need to get in front of. These would include:
Prospective clients: These are direct businesspeople that you want to work with. Details you need to share with your contacts may include Persons positions/titles, typical business size, industries, location and the types of challenges that you solve.
Strategic Partners: These are the people who are most likely to refer you. If you are an estate planning attorney, for example, you’d want to meet Real Estate Attorneys, CPAs and Wealth Managers. Your contacts need to know this in order to move you along to these strategic partners.
Centers of Influence: These are the most connected people around. They are the movers and shakers who may be able to connect you.
If you fail to accomplish this part, you may hear things like, “Let me think about it” or “I’ll keep my eyes open.” No good. Try to help your contact/friend to come up with specific names of people and then walk them through how to make the best introduction possible.
Step #5: Develop some fast business
One of the most important parts of going solo is to obtain success early on. This not only helps with cash flow but enhances your confidence that you’re going to be okay. Work with your best contacts to ask for the business or the introduction, not because you’re desperate for some work, but rather because you’re damn good at what you do! Follow step four to meet with your best contacts, get specific names from them, and follow up to get high-level quality introductions.
This is a very unique and difficult time for everyone. It’s important to utilize the resources in front of you. If you are looking for more in-depth information or direct help, please visit my website at www.fretzin.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE 15-minute consultation.