You went to law school not business school, right? But if you want to be a solo practitioner, you must think like an entrepreneur. Going through the exercise of writing a business plan will focus you on your talents, strengths and weaknesses, and identify where you may need help with the launch of your practice.
Additionally, you will need a business plan if you want a loan. Most solo practitioners, start small and self-finance his or her startup costs. However, if you were to ask a bank for a loan, they would want to see your business plan as part of the application process.
Your business plan does not need to be formal but should be organized. There are many books and online resources for writing a business plan. The US Small Business Association (SBA) is a great resource for developing your business plan at www.sba.gov.
Elements of a Business Plan
- Executive Summary – A brief statement describing your practice. What will make you unique and special?
- Business Description – What is the area of law you will be practicing?
- Target Market – Who is your client? Are you looking for corporate clients or individuals? Older individuals who may need help with Medicare or elder care? People going through divorce? Entrepreneurs looking for patents, trademarks or copyrights?
- Competitive Analysis – In your community, who else is practicing law in your area of expertise? What talents or strategy do you have that sets you apart from your competition?
- Marketing Plan – Once you have identified your market, how are you going to reach them? How will you get your message to your audience? If you want to reach business owners consider joining local business networking groups or trade associations. Want to reach younger populations? Then advertise at schools. Want to target your services to older populations? Consider advertising in church bulletins. A good resource is The One Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib.
- Operations & Management – Outline your organization. If you have a partner or assistant, who is responsible for what? What computer systems, software, online resources will you need to manage your practice?
- Financial Plan – Are you self-financing or getting a loan? Do you need money for upfront costs? What do you need to invest now and what expenses can you pay later? And the most important question: What is your overhead expense?
Want more tips and advice for your awesome law practice? Check out Law Office on a Laptop, Second Edition: How to Set Up Your Own Successful Law Mobile Law Practice.