Laurie M. Wasserman
5 Lessons for 5 Years — Celebrating Our Law Firm’s Anniversary
This article was originally published on Laurie M. Wasserman's LinkedIn here.
My law office opened on May 15, 2018. I had promised to give myself a year to plan my firm, but I ended up opening after just four months. Once I decided to start my own firm, I was too excited to sleep.
I spent my first day as a new business owner sitting on the floor (next time, bring a chair!) of my empty office with my laptop addressing client concerns. Just because my new business started did not mean my client’s issues were paused. By the end of the day, movers had delivered multiple boxes of office supplies I preordered (note to self—you do not need 10,000 rubber bands to start a law firm). That evening, my family joined me for a pizza celebration and to help me unpack. As we sat on metal chairs and ate off folding tables from my basement (which would later be fondly referred to as the “beer pong tables”), I proudly showed my children how “our” new business would benefit our family and other families. That way, my children knew if I was working long hours, it was in service to them and others.
A few days later, Riah (my administrative assistant and now Practice Group Manager) joined me. I was thankful for the company and glad to have her by my side. The furniture we ordered finally arrived a few weeks later (thankfully, visitors had a great sense of humor when they saw the décor). Over the first year, we survived and were profitable. Years two through four, we thrived and grew. We underwent growth in revenue, staff, and office space (3 expansions to date!). In year five, we are undergoing strategic planning, looking towards the future of the firm and we are on the cusp of some very exciting things.
One of the added benefits of starting a business was learning to run the business. Now, I am frequently asked by other professionals interested in starting their own businesses for advice. In honor of five years of running a successful law firm, I want to share five lessons I have learned along the way:
1. Always Give More Than You Receive
This is the foundation of my business philosophy. Helping others puts you in the position of being a leader in your industry. By sharing your time, knowledge, connections, and other resources with those in need, you are helping others be successful. I cannot always explain it, but trust me, you will be rewarded. It is how I have built my business.
2. Challenges Can Reinvigorate You
I knew nothing about starting a business when I decided to do it. So, I worked day and night to teach myself what I could, asked others for advice (see lesson number 1), and delegated what was not the best use of my time appropriately. I can honestly say that the challenge of running a business, while practicing law, has been the most exciting thing I have done in my career. This new challenge made me set professional and personal goals for myself that I would not have set otherwise. Do not let fear of failing at being a business owner prevent you from doing this. It should instead motivate you to work harder.
3. People Will Always Remember How You Treated Them
I built my reputation and my business on professionalism. Sure, I have learned some hard lessons during my career, but I continue to return to this guiding principle of professionalism even when I am challenged by difficult personalities. If you treat others (staff, clients, your adversaries, etc.) with kindness and respect, they will appreciate and remember that. And, your demeanor will often diffuse a combative situation. No matter how old you get, the golden rule of “do onto others” still matters.
4. Do Not Get Trapped By "Paralysis of Analysis"
Having never run a business, I could have debated every little decision I needed to make. And there were a million decisions to be made before I even opened my doors. I realized early on that my time and energy were better spent working on the business than fighting for the best price on my copier or deciding on a font for my letterhead. I made the conscious choice to just make a decision, and that allowed me to move one step closer to my goal. Even if I later discovered it was not the “best” decision, I could change my mind and go in a different direction going forward. Nothing I was doing was permanent, as evidenced by the fact that I have pivoted many times over the last five years.
5. Your Team Is Critical To Your Success
I have the best people on my team helping me. These are not just the people in my office. They include the outside professionals I hired to advise me with regard to business decisions. You cannot and will not be able to do this alone if you want to be successful. Therefore, it is critical to find your team and empower them to help run your business. Invest in the people early and listen to them—if they are the right people they will be just as invested in your business as you are, and will want to see you thrive.
There you have it. Nothing I wrote here is a proprietary secret of business. These are all the things I would tell if we were to sit down for coffee or if I ran into you at an event. But these 5 lessons have gotten me to this milestone and will continue to move me forward every day. I have big plans for the next five years, and I cannot wait to reflect on them when I write my next anniversary article. I truly thank everyone who has helped my firm and I get to this point—family, friends, my team, clients, referral sources, and the legal and professional community as a whole. You are all the reason I do this day in and out. Cheers to five years and many more!
If you have any questions about running a successful law firm, or other family law matters, please contact Laurie Wasserman at email@example.com or 410-842-1070. The legal team at Wasserman Family Law is here to help guide and advocate for you.
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