Two and a half years ago I left my comfortable law firm job. I didn’t know what I was going to do next and I didn’t have a Plan B. I certainly never expected to start my own business.
At first, I thought about going to another law firm, but I saw that there was a need in the market for someone who could help law firms and lawyers with social media and also outsourced CMO services. I wanted to work with midsize and small law firms, and I knew they might not have a budget or the need to hire somebody like me full-time.
So I read a lot of books and articles, talked to a lot of people and leaned on my mentors, and created a new business (during the pandemic). And it took off beyond my wildest expectations. Thank you to all of my clients and everyone who has supported me along the way.
I’m an accidental entrepreneur – but I saw an opportunity in a crowded market to use the skills and talents I already had to my advantage and filled a void in the market.
If you are thinking about going off on your own, that’s something to contemplate as well. Where are there opportunities and holes in your industry, and how can you uniquely fill them?
I also had been laying the groundwork for many years by posting on LinkedIn, speaking at conferences, and writing articles so that when I wanted to start a business as an interim venture (at first) while I figured out my next move, it wasn’ not hard because I already had the foundation and built-in audience for it. (This is my plug for why you should build your personal brand!)
Starting my own business was in many ways an accident as I am not a risk-taker. I am not a natural entrepreneur. I always thought I would stay in the stable world of law firms. And I would go back someday for the right environment. But I want autonomy over how I spend my days. I want to be CEO of my career.
I need a place that enables and encourages me to be ME. Building my personal brand is important to me because I know I have a greater purpose than sitting behind a desk in an office every single day for years on end waiting for my 3 percent raise and hoping to inch up the corporate ladder.
I also want to help others – whether it’s through social media, teaching, writing, or speaking. I know that shining my light makes some people feel uncomfortable – that’s why entrepreneurship may be for you too. You get to be your own boss.
I’ve learned that having a positive mindset is so important in being an entrepreneur.
If you are going to survive the challenges of running your own business, a positive mindset is essential.
I surround myself with positive people who encourage me – like fellow entrepreneurs Paula Edgar, Katie Lipp, Helen Burness, and Melanie Borden.
I also focus on my successes and celebrate even the smallest of wins. I try really hard to not beat myself up when things go wrong (and they do!).
A major reason why I post so much on LinkedIn and offer so many online programs is that I love to help people. One of the best ways to feel good about yourself as well as to spread the word about your new business for free is to help others.
All this being said, I’m not alone in having left traditional law firm life.
There are many other women who have done the same and are charting new paths for themselves and others – our industry needed change and the pandemic helped accelerate it.
We are creating businesses, products and redefining career success. We are helping the legal industry innovate, which it needed for so long.
If I can do it so can YOU!
Start by finding a need and/or opportunity in the market that fits with your unique talents and interests. Ask yourself what you can bring to it that is different than what others have done before and look at how your experience is an asset. Then write that down. It doesn’t have to be perfect at first – it’s a stream of consciousness exercise and you’ll edit later. You’re essentially crafting your mission statement and the services you will offer. You will need a website and a LinkedIn company page, as well as a proposal template very quickly and this will form the basis of those materials.
For me, I knew that my 20 years of being directly in law firms would be an asset as an outsourced chief marketing officer and social media consultant because I have been doing that work every day (successfully) for two decades. I could step in very quickly, get things done and make a difference, so I needed to convey that in my written materials too. That was my unique value proposition.
Of course, you knew I was going to tell you to amp up your social media presence right?
It goes without saying that in order to build your new entrepreneurial business you need to be visible on LinkedIn. There’s no better way to garner free press and build your network.
I have tons of resources throughout this blog on how you can build your brand and business using LinkedIn, so check out the many posts that can help you do this in no time!
So remember: Do things that scare you – whether it’s an endeavor you’re not quite ready for like this – just do it. You’ll figure it out. There are so many of us who walked in your shoes. And we’re happy to give advice.
The other thing is that you have many safety nets. You can go back to work for a law firm or company at any point. So many people pivot in and out of companies throughout their careers, so if it doesn’t work out on your own, you have options.
You get to decide who you are, and you can change who you want to be and what you want to do at any point in your career.
Action breeds confidence and courage as Dale Carnegie said. And as the wise Elle Woods said, “you must always have faith in yourself.”
Here’s a replay of a Women Who Wow Female Entrepreneurs Roundtable with some amazing advice from leading women entrepreneurs that may inspire you – Part 1 and Part 2.
Copyright © 2022, Stefanie M. Marrone. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 158