5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Launch!

June 26, 2012

The Survivalist on what it takes to set up your own firm

Photo: Shutterstock

Now you’ve got to grips with the Survivalist message, it’s time for a dose of the really good stuff.

My first blog attracted a spot-on comment from a righteous brother-in-arms, ‘Wasted Youth’. As ‘Wasted’ pointed out, despite what some law firm partners might think, slavery is no longer legal in the UK and is certainly not necessary to your career.

The true path for many is going it alone, and setting up your own firm.

Ultimate expression

The Survivalist is all for this. Being your own boss is the ultimate expression of business freedom. It can be done, but it takes a lot of courage and a toolkit that most lawyers today just don’t have.

Those lawyers prefer being part of a collective, hiding in an office, protected by their peers. They like the reassurance and guaranteed work quality that comes with being part of a big brand.

But for others, the lure of an empty horizon is just too much to resist. That said, going it alone does take a lot of guts. You will need a few clients – not just one. The more, the better. You will need to work your proverbial off, too. This is not an option for the fainthearted.

Dosh in the door

Don’t over-finesse. The great thing about being a lawyer is that all you really need is a computer and a phone and a desk at home. Getting PI cover is tricky, and changes to the system – happening as a consequence of a bunch of failed sole conveyancing practitioners – are not going to make it any easier. But it’s not the end of the world, believe me.

Secretarial support is also not necessary. You’ll be much leaner if you do it all yourself. Remember, it’s all about getting the dosh in the door, so if possible agree monthly billing with your clients and make sure you collect it.

And get a good accountant. Most lawyers I know are hopeless with figures. Your accountant will show you ways of running things cost-effectively, and save you a ton of money into the bargain.

Price is right

Pricing yourself right is a key issue. Put together a rudimentary business plan and remember to think about things like fixed fees, a favourite of most clients today.

Careful pricing will lead to good profitability, but it’s easy to get wrong. Remember that ‘too cheap’ and ‘too expensive’ are both problems.

Clients are what it’s all about, though. You need to be responsive and available all the time.

Don’t think you can do without a website or some form of internet presence. Not in this day and age you can’t. Get that up and running ahead of time so that clients know where to find you and can refer their mates. Referrals will be your best source of business.

To begin with, your marketing budget should be tight as a gnat’s chuff, as my old man used to say.

No jetting off to expensive conferences abroad, or wasting time advertising in print. That’s expensive and scatter-gun. Don’t spend a penny more than you can afford. But remember: if you spend nothing, you’ll get nothing. Just make sure that every marketing pound counts.

My man ‘Wasted’ did it on £39.55, which has to be a world survivalism record. If he can do it, so can you.

Until next time, stay frosty. TS


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