Britain Is Open For Business, Are You?

Whether you subscribe to the Chancellor's views or not, there is one underlying truth - a confident and secure workforce will deliver a profit.

Whether you subscribe to the Chancellor's views or not, there is one underlying truth - a confident and secure workforce will deliver a profit.

Your skills as a solicitor in any denomination of practice stand as a testament to you for all time, because you could never have made the leap from solicitor to business person without them. Your reputation and hard work carried you along and powered your dream of being your own boss. The big cheese.

You found the right premises, you picked the signage, haggled with the stationers, negotiated your insurance packages, you spent hours in IKEA choosing the office furniture, you dashed off to attended every networking event, then returned and worked late building the IKEA furniture, you opened up at weekends, covered sick days, answered the phone, cleared paper jams, you emptied the bins, you brewed up, you even bought Microsoft Windows Server manuals - you are battle hardened. A business warrior. You are a master of the IKEA allen- key.

So now you own the business, you are a business person first, a solicitor second - but are you confident and secure?

We are in a recession (I prefer market correction but hey), it's not your fault, you are not to blame and neither am I. The media tell us everyday the recovery could be a double-dip (I doubt it), then they say its going to be W-shaped, V-shaped even N-shaped.

Well if we get a casting vote on the shape can I have the I-shape please, straight up or straight down - I can plan for that as a business person. What I cannot plan for are the what-ifs, the needless worry of quantitive easing, the bond and gilt markets, oil prices, the futures index - it's this simple - we have no control over them. They are current affairs, good dinner table talk to look knowledgeable, we may even care, some may even pay homage to all things Peston.

What we do have control over is our own business belief because we have endured changing markets and even previous downturns.

Five or more partner law firms can look away now, this part is not for you, the 0.4% of Law Society members who believe the recession is over - bravo, good for you - I'm all in for positive spin, but my focus is the SME practioner, the high street firm who endure the high street battle daily, the coal-face operators who can and have lost conveyancing cases for a £5 difference in fees, after watching potential clients zigzag their way down the high street.

Losing potential cases over and over again will ultimately reduce market share within the high street, but it also erodes away the confident and secure workforce, which in turn increases the pressure on you, the boss, but not all transactions are lost because of cost.

Perception is key and you have to sell it, like you've never sold anything before. You have already built your brand and helped hundreds of would-be homeowners, personal injury claimants, divorcees - your practice is a pillar of the local community, for a certain generation - what you need to capture is the £5 leavers and educate them about the value of your expertise, the skill and care you apply to every matter, and every individual.

What is the potential clients perception of you, as a business?

The up and coming generations are web savvy, they google most things, they will look at your website before walking through the practice door, so lets start with your website - if you answer yes to any of these questions its time for a change -

Does you website carry google ads or groupon vouchers?

Does your website load so much flash it could induce a seizure?

Are you smiling on your photo, do you look like a welcoming legal guru or do you look like you've just been delivered crushing news or electro-shock therapy?

Ok, that's your internet shop window spruced up a little, what about your actual shop window - your premises?

You may have chuckled when I mentioned the furniture building and your mastery of the allen-key, but its the simple changes that often have the most dramatic results - a desk or chair coupled with a lively print in the reception, a tin of gloss to touch the whites up and a floral smelling plug-in. And what about the best and cheapest advertising space of all.. the front window. Do you use this valuable resource to tell the public what you do, which in turn brings them through the door.

There are many who do not.

By doing these things you are investing in the future of your practice. Just the same as when powered by your dream to be your own boss you embarked on this journey. But it also has another use, your team, the people you hand-picked to carry the practice banner into the high street battle everyday will respond positively to your efforts - with water cooler chatter like, the management are doing something, the management are proactive, I like the desk, the chair, the aroma of the cheap plug-in - these lines often florish into belief, we will ride this out, we will not be defeated.

My own personal advice, would be this - you are a business person, you are a business warrior, you are the standard bearer and ultimately the key to the future, keep calm and carry on.


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