The legal profession has not been immune to the economic downturn that has been ebbing and flowing since 2008 and many law firms are searching for new ways to cut down on overhead and other expenses. One way attorneys are attempting to do this is by hiring out freelance paralegal work, which is increasing the demand for contract paralegal services. If you are considering starting your own paralegal business, here are five tips that can give you a leg up on the competition.
Formulate a business plan. Having a coherent business plan allows you to better visualize how you are going to go about drumming up business and what exactly your business will be doing to add superior value. Describe your company, the niche you are looking to fill and expand on any marketing ideas and financial projections. This will allow you to estimate your costs and your prices and will mean you are able to make articulate and well-thought out pitches to potential clients.
Determine your business location. Knowing where you will be doing most of your work is a huge part of not only forming a business, but estimating costs. If your goal is to completely reduce your overhead, then working from home is probably going to be ideal. You will need to consider what type of office supplies and document storage you are going to need, as well as the amount of space necessary to run your business.
Secure financing. The most precarious position for any new business owner is during the the start-up stage. Before you secure your first contract, you will have no cash flow, or evidence of future cash flow, and therefore securing capital from outside sources to fund your business’ development is going to be difficult until you can prove you are creditworthy. The initial stages are going to involve you paying both your business and personal costs.
Meet with an attorney. Unless you have experience in corporate law, it is wise to consult with an attorney who specializes in corporate entities so that you have the best advice possible when it comes to how to go about structuring your business, both for tax and liability purposes. There are advantages and disadvantages to every legal structure and knowing which one best suits your needs will save you time and money in the future.
Develop your list of services and costs. Depending on your experience or areas of expertise, you may decide to focus exclusively on one area of legal services, or you may decide to cast a wide net and offer a range of services. Before you begin soliciting business, you need a readily available list of services you are capable of providing, as well as the prices to go along with them.
We are seeing a shift towards a more freelance, more entrepreneurial economy and that means that more and more people are beginning to make their own work, as opposed to looking for people to give them employment opportunities. Starting what essentially amounts to your own business can be both liberating and nerve racking, but if you follow the above 5 tips and do your research, you should have every opportunity to thrive as an independent business person providing paralegal services.