I advise a number of businesses that are just starting out and looking to establish themselves in some competitive markets. While they come to me to help them sort out legal issues associated with starting a business, as a small business owner myself, I always enjoy sharing my story and what I've learned operating my still-very-young business from a business standpoint as well.
One of the most important things I try to instill into folks is that it's absolutely imperative to figure out why they are different than their competition and be able to articulate those differences. Because, when they really sit down to spell it out, they're going to realize that those differences form the foundation of what they are and why customers will be drawn to them, and they're going to be able to incorporate those themes and values into their products, service and day-to-day operations.
As a small business owner myself, here's what I tell them about what makes me different from my competition.
I started The Virtual Attorney with the goal of bringing estate planning and business law into the 21st century. Through the use of technology and the internet he strives to offers modern convenience to young families, small businesses and entrepreneurs. The goal at The Virtual Attorney is to use the latest technology to provide clients with a secure, convenient and accessible means to plan for their business or plan for their family's estate. My motto is that I try to show clients “what they want in a lawyer and what they need in a lawyer doesn’t have to be different”.
So how do I do it?
As a young attorney, I recognize the need for lowering legal costs in today’s economy and I see technology as a way to do that. Attorneys from my generation are so adept at high tech office management techniques- such as cloud file storage, online research, and wireless business phone systems – that the need for secretaries and receptionists has all but vanished for many young solo attorneys and small firms. That keeps our overhead much lower than that of our more established colleagues. This doesn't just save us the expense of hiring an office paralegal, it also leads to lower office rent costs, savings on office supplies, and more. The result is that, not only do we charge a lower hourly rate, but we can potentially get the job done more efficiently and at a tremendously lower cost, saving our clients a lot of money.
I have the time to devote to my clients and give them the one-on-one personalized attention that they deserve. Older attorneys are often overwhelmed trying to please the large portfolio of clients that they have built over the course of a long career. Oftentimes what suffers is client communication. At this point in my career I am generally able to return emails and calls within one business day. Better yet, when you deal with "The Virtual Attorney" you're dealing with me. That means responsiveness. You always know that if you have any questions or concerns, it's me that's going to be on the other end of the line ready to help.
As a young lawyer, I am not a member of the “good ol boys” network and don’t face the pressures to conduct business one way or another. Plus, I haven’t been desensitized by the high volume of cases or estates that older attorneys have dealt with during the course of their careers. I haven't developed the bad habit getting stuck in my ways, for example by drafting a will a certain way because "this is how I always write wills.” I still have a tremendous passion for tackling each unique situation as just that and refuse to carelessly fit every estate or young business into a cookie cutter mold.
As a young lawyer, I don’t have preconceived assumptions of how something should be done. This allows me to think outside the box and keeping an open mind. And, it ensures that I’m learning every detail about the specific issues facing my clients and thinking of all potential ways they could be handled.
A lifelong Relationship.
Within the field of estate planning, young lawyers are especially beneficial to clients, as we are more likely to see our clients' estates through probate and to act as executors to their wills.Chances are we're going to around to assist their families during a very difficult time.
You can get great reliable work from a baby boomer lawyer, but you can usually get the same quality work from me or one of my peers at a better price and with more personalized customer service. A lawyer doesn't need to have gray hair to do great work.
I try to incorporate those pillars into my daily work at The Virtual Attorney, and I always encourage my clients to do the same: figure out why they're different, embrace it, and make it part of their brand and their identity. So for all the business owners out there, I'd encourage you to do the same.
What makes you different? That's what your customers are after.
Michael F. Brennan runs a virtual law office helping clients in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota with estate planning and business issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments, or check out his website at www.thevirtualattorney.com.
The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and is not legal advice, nor is it intended to create an attorney-client relationship. For specific legal advice regarding a specific legal issue please contact me or another attorney for assistance.
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