Currently, the economic market condition in the United States is in recession.
I find that this is due, in large part, to the type of clients that hire me. They come to me because, as a former systems engineer, I speak Geek. However, they stay with me because, like most solos, I speak English more fluently than I speak either Legalese or Businessian.
But there is a lot more than that that we solo and small firm lawyers have in common with my clients than just that.
We tend to be more tech-savvy than our Big Law counterparts. We also tend to think outside the box more often.
Any small business person has to be the technical master of our product: In short, you as a solo or small firm lawyer have a LOT in common with my small business owner clients.
Therefore, I will give you some of the same advice I give my clients: You need a business plan. Most advice books tell you how to write a business plan that will appeal to investors.
Here is how you write a business plan for you. Start by writing a Vision Statement. This is NOT a mission statement. It is NOT an executive summary. It is a few paragraphs, tops, on what you think your ideal practice looks like.
How big do you want it to be? Do you have employees? What kind of work are you doing, ideally?
What does an ideal day look like? Who are your ideal clients? Write it all out. Make it as pie-in-the-sky as you want it to be, but make sure it is really YOUR ideal vision of your law firm.
Once you have written down your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, write out a couple of paragraphs saying what you will do to leverage your strengths and opportunities and what you will do to address your weaknesses and threats.
Note that some of your strengths will address some of those weaknesses, and some of your opportunities will balance out the threats. Also notice that you have a pretty neat little summary of what the market for your services looks like: Add in a little research about the market for legal services in your geographic area.
Ask yourself what you are going to do to tap into that market, write down the answer, and voila! Your Market Summary is written. Next, we will work on setting monetary goals for your business: First, look at your current costs of doing business.
Come up with a monthly total, a budget, that it costs to keep your business alive. At that level your firm will survive.
Now, think about how much more than that budget you need to make in order to regularly take home a small salary. Enough of a salary that you are paying your bills at home, too. At this level, your firm will survive and so will you. How much would your costs increase?
How much more would you be taking home? This should be a number where you are comfortably providing for you and your staff every month, paying all the bills and socking away a little into a rainy day fund both at work and at home.
Who is working for you? How much does that increase your costs?Business plan. This sample business plan template contains detailed step-by-step instructions on how to write a complete business plan.
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