How BigLaw business operations can free solopreneurs to do what they love

By Nina Kaufman, Esq.

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported on seismic changes befalling large law firms. Seems that under the new regime, “data and money rule.”

Gone is the tightknit camaraderie. The three-martini lunches. Where “I’ll get around to it,” was the response to turning in time sheets and billing practices were lax. Where splitting profits at the end of the year was simply a matter of “let’s look in the bank account and see what’s there.”

Now, modern firms are run like investment banks. With a ruthless focus on numbers. Billable hours. Partners required to submit weekly timesheets or face a fine. Promotion based on rainmaking – not just doing good work.

What struck me about the reporting was this:

The way large firms used to operate sounds suspiciously like the way many small businesses still do.

The desire for camaraderie and collaboration. A “relaxed” attention to the numbers (if at all). Love of the work and service over a focus on money.

(I get it. It’s why I was drawn to law and working with small businesses myself. Plus, I had told myself a false story that I wasn’t a numbers person).

But when large parts of your business rest on your lonely shoulders, your revenue will plateau.

Or, as efficiency expert Jess Mackta says, A one-person show is not the way to grow.

Here are three BigLaw systems that can help solo businesses improve their fortunes … by being just a little more methodical.

  1. Bill promptly. Out of sight, out of mind. The longer you wait to bill, the longer it takes you to reconstruct what you did. The longer your clients wait to pay. They forget how good you were. There’s less money in your bank account. Without good billing “hygiene” and systems, you’re simply cheating yourself. How can you become more accountable to yourself and streamline your billing process?
  2. Make sales. Why is this news? Because many service-based solopreneurs started their businesses because they loved the work. Not because they loved sales. Pitching business. Following up with prospects. (Blecch). Just doing the work and billing for it won’t let you grow. You also need to generate business … and be structured about it if you want to avoid revenue rollercoasters. If there are aspects of sales, marketing, or business development you’re not comfortable with, learn it. Delegate it. Automate it. But it needs to be done. Where could you benefit from more support?
  3. Discover the power of data. One of my clients proudly declared her New Year’s resolution to run her business by the numbers. Why? Because she was tired of scraping at the end of the year and not knowing why. Data – like which projects are profitable, which referral sources fill the pipeline, and which expenses are no longer necessary—is not an indictment. It’s just information. So you can make wiser choices. Like, is there a way to maintain your high-touch service with low-paying clients? Maybe there is, just not in the way you expected. Data lets you plan for success instead of just hoping for it.

Those three suggestions can improve your cash flow. Save you time and money. So you really can be free to do what you love.

You deserve to be paid, protected, and prosperous. Kaufman Business Law can help get you there. Watch this short video to find out how.