Take the First Step

Admittedly, I’m kind of floundering today.  Last night, I spent several hours in the ER with my 70+ year old Mom.  She had been in a relatively minor car accident but it was on the freeway and there were three cars involved, the police came, and she was pretty shook up.  She actually called my sister (she was closer to her house) from the freeway.  My dear sister showed up at the accident scene and told my Mom she was completely fine to drive herself home!!!  My sister didn’t even follow her to make sure she got home ok and was comfortably settled.  Mom lives alone.  So, later, when Mom thinks she should be checked out . . . who does she call?  Me.  And who sits with Mom at the ER with all the coughing, vomiting, sniffly people with fevers?  Me.  I don’t at all mind needing to take Mom to the ER.  I was easily able to find the kids a ride home from Scouts (we were on our way to Scouts when Mom called) so, really, it wasn’t an inconvenience.  I’m just mad at my sister for thinking it was ok for Mom to drive home alone.  And Mom’s like, “Oh, don’t get mad at her.  She’s just on a different wavelength than  you are.”  What???

Ok, ok, I’m digressing.

And Mom’s ok.  The x-rays and CT scan all checked out fine.

So its 11:00 and I’ve literally done nothing today besides turn the minis out and get sucked into Hay Day and Facebook.  I decided to write in my journal; that helps me clear my head and get on with my day sometimes.

It led me to again think about what I want to do work-wise.  I really want to build something of my own.  I have ideas for three different on-line businesses that I keep coming back to.  I think they’re good ideas.  People I’ve run them by also think they have potential.  I’ve done some brainstorming, made some lists, put some ideas down on paper.

So . . . now what?  Because of my spectacular history of not following through on my brilliant ideas, Husband isn’t going to be supportive of spending any money on these new bright ideas.  Realistically, I could likely get at least one or two of them off the ground without any money.

So . . . now what?  I keep coming back to these ideas, which tells me I should pay attention to them.  What’s stopping me?  I’m sort of at a place in life where I could launch something new, something that’s my very own thing.  I’m smart.  I can figure stuff out.

My brainstorming keeps coming up with problems . . .  What form would the final product be in?  How would I get paid (PayPal?)?  How much do I charge?  I can’t envision the entire project or process. But that led me to remember one of my favorite quotes (which I’m likely not quoting exactly):  Faith is taking the first step when you can’t see the entire staircase.

That’s the point I’m at . . . I can’t see the entire staircase.  But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t take the first step.

Starting a Business – What to Spend Money On?

As I work on developing my private practice (I’m an attorney, for those of you who don’t know), I’m beginning to face the question of just what should I spend money on?  What’s most important?  Where will my money be best spent?  What do I need to do now versus what can I put off a little bit?

Figuring all of that out can be more than a little overwhelming.  It seems like there are so many choices, so many options, so many possibilities.  And maybe worse of all, oftentimes there’s really no clear “right” or “wrong” answer.

My approach to sorting through these decisions is to go back to the very basics.  Starting with, “O.k., to  make this work, I’m going to need clients.”  So . . . where am I going to find those clients?

The first obvious answer seems to be the internet.  So, I need a website.  Luckily for me, I have a good friend who designs websites.  She thankfully agreed to work on mine and it should be up and running soon.

The internet is good but pretty broad and doesn’t really guarantee anything.  Our local Bar Association has a Lawyer Referral Service that I’m in the process of signing up for.  Unfortunately, that led to another expense . . . malpractice insurance.  I got a couple of quotes and need to finish up that paperwork today.

The Bar’s referral service made me wonder if there are other referral type services in our community.  Back to the internet . . . we have a bunch of “self-help clinics” in the county but they can’t handle everything and so . . . they have their own list of attorneys they refer out to!  I sent them emails and am working on getting on those lists.

So I’m feeling like that’s a pretty decent amount of marketing without much cost (really, zero cost besides the malpractice insurance).

Next question:  If I get a client referred to me, where am I going to meet with them??  This one is trickier because I don’t want to spend the money on renting an office, furnishing it, phones, internet, etc.  I’m not anticipating ever having a full-time practice.  I could use my husband’s therapy office but 1., he uses it more than full-time and 2., there’s not a table or anything to spread papers out on, etc.  That doesn’t seem like a good option.  Second option is that I had an attorney offer that I can use his office any time I need, free of charge.  I don’t know this attorney well so I hesitate to take him up on his very generous offer but that may be the best option for the moment.

Let’s see . . . what else??  I have business cards.  I have a very basic letterhead that I just print out on plain paper.  I have file folders and forms to take notes on, a fee agreement, an email and an office phone number (which is a free google number).

I feel like there must be things I’m missing!!!!  But I’m really afraid of spending a bunch of money and then having zero clients walk through my non-existent door.  I’m trying to cover the basics and that’s it.

Would love to hear from people who have started their own businesses!!!  What did you spend money on?  Where was your money well spent and what could you have skipped??

The Evil Necessity of Networking

Networking.  I shudder when someone says that word.  However, in the past couple of days, its occurred to me that I might need to undertake some of this dreaded task.

I need a new job.  The job search hasn’t turned anything up.  I’m not even getting calls back for jobs I’m clearly qualified for.  I don’t know why and its becoming a bit depressing.  I feel like I’m doing everything right but am getting zero results.

In the meantime though, an acquaintance just happened to refer a colleague to me who needed a juvenile criminal defense attorney.  Hey!!  That’s what I am!!!  Why, yes!!  I can help you!

That puts me at three clients (2 of whom are paying me; one I’m doing pro bono.)  Which has got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, I could give private practice a try.  Which got me to thinking about networking.

Ugh.

I’ve stated here on my blog previously that I’m pretty introverted.  I can get up in front of people and talk (particularly if I have my Hawaiian float hat on – that’s another story) but facing a room full of people where I’m supposed to introduce myself to people, strike up conversations and make contacts pretty much fills me with dread.  How do people do that??

Where do I find places to “network”?  How does this even work?  So many questions!  So far out of my comfort zone.

I started  yesterday by having coffee with an acquaintance (she’s my stylist . . . Style by Malia . . . stylebymalia.com . . . she’s fabulous) who has her own business and seems to do a lot of networking stuff.  Thought I would ask her for some advice.  That was really helpful; she gave me some good resources.

O.k., o.k., but now, I actually have to go to one of these things.  And, like, talk to people.  But I do need to, right?  Because I need clients.  And telling people that I’m an attorney and open for business is how I’m going to find them, right?

Sigh . . . o.k.  I’ll report back on my first networking adventure.  Wish me luck!

Maybe a Coffee Shop . . . Maybe Not

I’m continuing to contemplate my entry into entrepreneurship.  I think I’d prefer to buy a business which is already up and running.  That seems like a much less daunting undertaking.  But what kind of business??

I certainly don’t want something complicated like a restaurant.  I’ve never even worked in a restaurant.  Wait, that’s not true . . . I forgot my week-long stint as a server in the dining room of a retirement home.  I couldn’t put up with the crabby old folks yelling at me because I forgot their prune juice.  Sorry if I was new!!!  Apparently, they didn’t care.  Anyway . . . I’ve never worked retail either.  I’ve always had secretarial jobs.

I’ve found two websites that list business for sale.  In my scrolling, I’ve come up with a couple things . . . one I really wanted.  Its one of those self-serve frozen yogurt places!  Perfect!  Not complicated, something I’m familiar with (its actually the very one my family goes to) and is close to my house.  Unfortunately, its already under contract.  Bummer.

There’s a Cold Stone Creamery franchise for sale . . . also an attractive option, mostly because I like ice cream.  I really like ice cream.  That’s probably not a great reason to buy a business.  It kind of sounds like the time I bought a dapple grey horse because I really like dapple grey horses.  That turned out to be a total disaster.  But I’m familiar with Cold Stone (who isn’t?).  Problem with this one is that its a ways from my house.  Husband really wants something close by so its easier to manage.  I suppose that makes sense.

And then . . . there’s this coffee shop for sale.  Good points:  We can pretty easily afford it.  Its been in business for about 10 years.  It has a good location.  I like coffee!  Bad points:  Its currently closed because the person who attempted to take it over, apparently made every mistake possible.  It sounds a little complicated because they sold pastries, smoothies, and I think some sandwiches and things along with coffee.  So its leaning towards restaurant.  I don’t know how long its been closed.  Its a bit too far away in Husband’s opinion, but I think its ok.

I want to be excited about the coffee shop but I just can’t quite talk myself into it.  Which probably means I should keep looking, right?

My problem is that I’m not a particularly patient person.  When I get an idea in my head, I want it to happen right now!!!  So, I want to buy a business right now!!!  (That would also solve my “need a new job” problem.)  Husband cautioned that it can take years to buy a business.  What?  Years???  I want one now!!!

But for now, I’ll keep looking.

 

Am I Ready to Be an Entrepreneur?

First, I can barely even spell “entrepreneur” and I’m a good speller.  I have never wanted to own a small business (or a big one).  I want to go to work, know what my job is, be left pretty unsupervised to do it, go home, and have someone give me a paycheck.  I certainly don’t mind running things or supervising others; I just don’t want to be the one worrying about keeping the lights on.

Even upon becoming an attorney, I never wanted to hang out a shingle and be a solo practitioner.  The joke in my family is that if I were in business for myself, I’d happily accept blind ponies or one-legged chickens as payment.  My 13 year old daughter once commented, “Hey, Mom, maybe you could get a one-legged, blind, chicken.”  I replied back, completely serious, “well, if such a chicken came along, it would definitely have a forever home here.”

But as I perform my daily scroll through job opportunities on Indeed.com, I’ve started to question my aversion to entrepreneurship. (Got that version wrong too; thanks, spellcheck.)

My Dad owns an architecture firm; has for most of my life.  He’s trying to retire but clients keep talking him into just “one more, small, project”.  He’s quite successful.  My husband’s family are all entrepreneurs – therapists (his Mom owned the largest group therapy practice in the county for many years), an aesthetician, an attorney, a CPA who ran the other family business.  I’ve just never thought it was for me.

Given that, I’ve managed to never work a 9 – 5 job.  I’m used to having pretty good control over my own schedule, working with extremely little to no supervision and being able to take about 7 weeks off a year.  As I’m searching for a new job, I was trying to wrap my head around having to give up all of that.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally prepared to do whatever I have to do job-wise but, the more I thought about a regular work schedule, only 2 weeks off a year, having someone else in control of my schedule, I began to wonder if its not time for me to go into business for myself.

I have a few ideas about what I might want to do.  I just need to stop talking myself out of them.  And I’d have to get paid in actual money rather than blind ponies and one-legged chickens.  A business manager type person sounds like it might be a good idea for me.

The obvious thing would be for me to open my own law practice, right?  I don’t want to do that.  I want to try something new.  But what?  And how am I ever going to be brave enough??