I’ve been a solo practitioner for nearly a year and a half now. During that time I’ve learned that sustaining a small firm or solo practice isn’t easy work. In fact, it’s safe to say that most of us work nights, weekends, and holidays for the good of their practice. Nonetheless, it’s satisfying work and many solo practitioners are happy with their practice just the way it is. However, if you’d like to make your practice grow—if you’d like to give your office a little extra OOMPH—then you’re going to need to work at it. Here are a few tips to build your firm beyond the start-up stage.
1. Network, Network, Network
If you want your practice to grow, you’re going to need to expand your network. It’s really that simple. After all, it’s your reputation that will win you new business. The more people who know and respect you as a professional, the more business will come through your door as referrals. Doing good work is only the beginning. You need people to learn about your good work.
For this reason, you should set aside regular time in your schedule for networking. This is something you can do both in and out of the office. Attend conferences, seminars, and other networking events as often as possible. Consider submitting your credentials for speaking roles on panels at conferences. And while you’re there, collect business cards, shake hands, and make friends. But, remember, like many things in life it’s not the quantity of the connections you make, but the quality of those connections.
Once you’re back in the office, you can continue to build and strengthen your network. Connect with your new connections on social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter. And, of course, using those same social media outlets you can seek out and develop new connections as well. After all, the beauty of social media is that it makes it easier than ever to network.
2. Time to Hire Help!
If you just read that last section, and thought to yourself, “I have no time to network,” then it might be time to hire some help. After all, winning new business is an essential part of your firm’s growth and long term stability. If you’re overloaded with work and are unable to focus on new business acquisition, then it’s time to seek an associate to help free up some of your time. Sure, an associate costs both time and money, but it’s an investment that can allow you the freedom to continue to grow your practice.
3. Learn Some New Tricks
If time isn’t an issue, but you’re struggling to stand out in a crowded legal market, then maybe it’s time to learn some new tricks. Many solo practitioners discover new opportunities for revenue by offering services in new practice areas. Others have expanded their practices by honing in on niche specialties. Both options open up new opportunities and new business for your office. Remember, however, that while Continuing Legal Education courses provide learning opportunities and credit towards your bar requirements, they are not enough. Learning new specialties includes doing research by reading books, legal journals, and blawgs.
4. Be More Cost-Efficient
Sometimes the easiest way to earn more money isn’t to find new revenue sources, but to cut your existing costs. One of the most important breakthroughs for my business involved cutting costs by discovering alternatives to my current business expenses. Those costs are often unique for each practice and each business. Nonetheless, many attorneys find significant savings for their practices by investigating legal research alternatives and evaluating options for shared office spaces. Again, your office has its own specific needs, but it’s often worthwhile to evaluate your expenses for opportunities to lower your firm’s overhead.
By following these tips, you can make your practice bigger, faster, stronger—and leaner. Of course, every firm’s path to success is different, so we’d love to hear what’s worked for you. Share your tips in the comments section.
- The Baby and the Solo Practice (rocketlawyer.com)
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