Despite growing signs of a looming economic downturn, there are plenty of other signs for optimism.
And it appears solo and small firm lawyers could be in a strong position to weather whatever economic conditions may arise.
Consider a recent headline story in The New York Times: A Recession Isn’t Inevitable: The Case for Economic Optimism. The bottom line is plain enough: many reliable economic indicators point to a promising future for business.
With the brightest future of all for solo and small firm lawyers, who have three advantages over their larger counterparts:
- They are nimble and can transition more quickly.
- They are accustomed to multi-tasking.
- They have outsourcing options that give them the power of a much larger practice.
Proof of the latter point: MailChimp lets you send monthly newsletters like a pro, and Zoom lets you hold video conferences all over the world without leaving your office. And these applications – at least the public, open-source version – are free.
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Four Pointers for Solos and Small Firms
Regardless of what happens tomorrow or next month on the economic front, there is one golden rule: Don’t panic.
Entrepreneur Nick Gialamis had soaring success in the go-go tech days of the late 1990s, but when the bottom fell out in the 2000s, he also hit bottom.
“The first thing I learned was don’t panic,” he says in this piece from business writer Ivy Walker that was published by Forbes. “Markets go down and businesses downsize. Recessions impact all of us. I realized as I was struggling, so were many of my clients. I needed to be sure to stay positive. I started asking myself how can I help them get through the issues in their businesses? I had to get creative and come up with solutions to help them save on their healthcare spend. It was also a good opportunity to find new customers.”
Here’s some advice from Walker, Forbes and Gialamis:
- Selling cures everything. “Grow the top line and it will solve for a lot of your problems.”
- Stress-test your business. “Do an annual SWOT analysis. Know what your strengths are and figure out how to strengthen your weaknesses. Think about how you’ll manage profitability, how you’ll retain employees. Look for additional streams of revenue.”
- Focus on what you’re good at. “Focus is critical. You don’t want to get dispersed in too many different directions. Focus on what you are really good at and then build from there. We focused on employee benefits/healthcare insurance. We didn’t branch out into offering all other kinds of insurance products. We stuck to what we were good at.”
- Get creative with how you service your clients. “We realized that smaller was better because what we lacked in size, we were able to make up with the ability to get things done. We didn’t have bureaucracy. We spent our time focusing on fostering incredible relationships with our customers, partners and vendors.”
“Recessions don’t last forever,” Gialamas says. “Figuring out how you can survive and thrive ahead of time is the key.”
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