Two and a half years ago, I left my comfortable job at a law firm. I didn’t know what I was going to do next and I didn’t have a plan B. I definitely never expected to start my own business.
At first I thought of going to another law firm, but I saw that the market needed someone who could help law firms and lawyers with social media, as well as outsource CMO services. I wanted to work with medium and small law firms and I knew they might not have the budget or need to hire someone like me full time.
So I read a lot of books and articles, talked to a lot of people and relied on my mentors and started a new business (during the pandemic). And it flew beyond my wildest expectations. Thanks to all my clients and all those who supported me along the way.
I am a casual entrepreneur – but I saw an opportunity in a crowded market to use the skills and talents I already had to my advantage and fill the gap in the market.
If you are thinking of going alone, this is also something you need to consider. Where are the opportunities and holes in your industry and how can you fill them uniquely?
In addition, I laid the groundwork for many years by posting on LinkedIn, speaking at conferences and writing articles, so when I wanted to start a business as a temporary venture (in the beginning) while inventing my next move, it was difficult because I already had the basis and the built-in audience for it. (This is my plug on why you need to build your personal brand!)
Starting my own business was in many ways accidental, as I am not risk averse. I am not a natural entrepreneur. I always thought I would stay in the stable world of law firms. Me too would come back one day for the right environment. But I want autonomy for how I spend my days. I want to be the CEO of my career.
I need a place that allows me and encourages me to be me. Building my personal brand is important to me because I know I have a bigger goal than sitting behind a desk in an office every day for years waiting for my 3 percent increase and hoping to climb up the corporate ladder.
I also want to help others – whether it’s social media, teaching, writing or speaking. I know that illuminating my light makes some people uncomfortable – that’s why entrepreneurship can be for you. You can be your own boss.
I learned that positive thinking is so important to be an entrepreneur.
If you want to experience the challenges of running your own business, positive thinking is essential.
I surround myself with positive people who encourage me – such as fellow entrepreneurs Paula Edgar, Katie Lipp, Helen Burnes and Melanie Borden.
I also focus on my successes and celebrate even the smallest victories. I try very hard not to fight when things go wrong (and they do!).
The main reason I post so much on LinkedIn and offer so many online programs is that I love helping people. One of the best ways to feel good about yourself and to share information about your new business for free is to help others.
Given all this, I am not the only one who has left the traditional life of a law firm.
There are many other women who have done the same and are paving new paths for themselves and others – our industry needed change and the pandemic helped accelerate it.
We create businesses, products and redefine career success. We are helping the legal industry to innovate, which it has needed for so long.
If I can do it, so can YOU!
Start by discovering a market need and / or opportunity that meets your unique talents and interests. Ask yourself what you can bring into it that is different from what others have done before, and see how your experience is an advantage. Then write this down. It doesn’t have to be perfect in the beginning – it’s an exercise in the flow of consciousness and you’ll edit later. In essence, you work out your mission and the services you will offer. Very quickly you will need a website and a company page on LinkedIn, as well as a template for a proposal and this will form the basis of these materials.
For me, I knew that my 20 years directly in law firms would be an advantage as a senior marketing director and social media consultant, because I have been doing this work every day (successfully) for two decades. I could intervene very quickly, get things done and make a difference, so I had to convey that in my written materials as well. This was my unique value proposition.
Of course, you knew I was going to tell you to increase your social media presence, didn’t you?
It goes without saying that in order to build your new entrepreneurial business, you need to be visible on LinkedIn. There is no better way to gather a free press and build your network.
I have a lot of resources in this blog on how you can build your brand and business with LinkedIn, so check out the many posts that can help you do that in no time!
So remember: Do things that scare you – whether it’s an endeavor you’re not fully prepared for – just do it. You will understand. There are so many of us walking in your shoes. And we are happy to give advice.
The other thing is that you have a lot of safety nets. You can return to work at a law firm or company at any time. So many people come in and out of companies during their careers, so if you don’t do it alone, you have opportunities.
You can 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.
The action inspires confidence and courage, as Dale Carnegie said. And as the wise El Woods said, “you must always have faith in yourself.”
Here’s a replay of a Women who wow Round table for women entrepreneurs with some amazing tips from leading women entrepreneurs that can inspire you – Part 1 and Part 2.
Copyright © 2022, Stefanie M. Marrone. All rights reserved.National Review of Law, Volume XII, Number 158