In association with LawWare: As 2022 approaches, many lawyers are thinking about starting out on their own. Whether you are thinking of going solo or teaming up, it's wise to plan carefully

 

There are many benefits to running your own firm - you control your own destiny, reap your own rewards and you can determine your own work/life balance. However, benefits bring responsibilities with them...

Always remember: you are running a business

Life in the legal world can be hectic. It’s a demanding profession and day-to-day work can mean that business performance considerations slip to the bottom of your list.

Being a great lawyer does not automatically mean you are a great business person. It’s prudent to take on board the advice of professionals:

  • Employ a good accountant who can take you through the key financial considerations.
  • Focus on your profit and loss statement regularly.
  • Enrol for some basic business management training.
  • Get a firm grip on cash flow management.

Pay particular attention to cash flow, businesses don’t go bust due to a lack of profitability, they go bust because they can’t pay the bills. You should know your precise cash flow position at the end of every working day.

Invoice regularly

The art of maintaining positive cash flow is to invoice clients regularly. If you do this each month, or even, more often you are more likely to get paid on time and in full. Don’t be afraid to use interim billing. Clients find it easier to afford and pay for your services in bite-sized chunks – and it will keep your bank manager happy. The longer you wait before sending out the bill, the less likely you are to get paid.

To assist with this, set up systems with your bank to enable you to accept credit card payments and automatic bank transfers. This will alleviate many of the problems associated with collections.

Market yourself professionally

Nowadays, the starting point for all promotion is your website. It’s your brochure, your directory entry, your online storefront, your client care mechanism and your newsletter all rolled into one. Websites are not a one-off transaction. They require maintenance to maintain your position on Google.

That requires advice and input from web professionals who manage search engine optimisation on a daily basis and who know how to write blog articles that will generate traffic for your site.

Of course, it’s not all just about e-marketing – the more traditional methods count too. Don’t overlook these when developing your business plan.

Top tips

  • Contact LSoS early, they have a lot of information about how to start up and will support you through the process.
  • Contact your bank early as well, it can take a while to set up a new business bank account.

Invest in the right software

Keeping track of profit and loss, cash flow and managing your client marketing, time recording and billing are easy with the right practice management software.

It pays to opt for a PMS system where accounts and case management are integrated and you can access all the relevant financials and case information without duplication of effort.

 

The Author

Mike O'Donnell, LawWare. If you are thinking of striking out on your own, good luck, take care and contact LawWare on 0345 2020 578 or by email: innovate@lawware.co.uk

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