So, You Have a Licence. Now What?

Photo: LaurMG

Photo: LaurMG

Kevin Birmingham is a new paralegal and SCOPE contributor. He discusses how important a business plan is, for licensees just starting out, and for those with established practices.

When you start a new business, any kind of business, there are a number fundamental matters that must be addressed – money, market, resources, and on it goes.

In addition to these big-picture items, there are a myriad of details that have to be worked through: name registration, HST number, mailing address, software, business cards, bank accounts, insurance, etc. Where does one start?

Creating a business plan could be the most important first step in launching a new business. So, why is a business plan so important? Who will ever look at it? Isn’t it nothing more than an elaborate guess? Taking nothing more than a cursory attempt at a business plan is to minimize its importance. Business plans are not simple; to create a truly useful plan takes time and energy.

Think, Think, Think!

The key benefit of writing a business plan is that it forces you to think through everything. It is easy to forget important details, but if you work through all the specifics, you will be forced to consider your cash flow, marketing, competition, fees, and so on. It can be intimidating, but it is far better to work these details out in advance, than having to react to an unplanned event.

The other important feature of a business plan is that it provides a measuring stick. Let’s face it, projecting income is a guessing game, and when you have no experience, most of the elements of a business plan can feel like a spin of the wheel. But, if you think of the business plan as a measuring stick, you are liberated. You must make your best guesses and then, when you have some experience, look and see what is working and what is not.

Put measurable goals and timelines in your plan. This gives you the ability to examine how the business is doing at any given moment and compare it with your plan. Is there a gap, between where you are and where you thought you would be? Look at the plan and try and understand the gap. Were your goals unrealistic, your efforts too feeble? Are you in the wrong marketplace? A plan gives you an objective means to evaluate, adjust and move on.

You are Not Alone

There are a number of resources to help you draw up a useful and empowering business plan. Most cities have business development centres, which offer courses and one-on-one evaluations. Many of these are low-cost or even free. Organizations and websites, such as the Business Development Bank, the Canadian Business Network, the Ontario Government, and the Law Society of Upper Canada, have resources online to assist in creating a business plan.

Creating a business plan can be a daunting task, but the payoff is significant. Even if you are already established, it is useful to set targets and goals, and think through how you are going to achieve them.

 

Business Plan Resources:

 

Birmingham-Kevin

Kevin Birmingham is a recently licensed paralegal focusing on Landlord & Tenant and Small Claims Court issues. Having launched his practice in October 2013, Kevin Birmingham is vividly aware of the challenges of generating a viable income and providing competent service to his clients.

Contact Kevin at:

    k.g.Birmingham Legal Services
    503-7700 Hurontario St., Suite 238
    Brampton ON L6Y 4M3

    Tel: 416-316-9955 | Fax: 647-557-3355

    kevin@kgbirmingham.com | http://www.kgbirmingham.com

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4 comments

  1. Ronald Rybowski · · Reply

    I agree that even before you become licensed one must prepare. Keep in mind to be a successful advocate one must prepare the case and attempt to have the answers in advance just in case. The same can be said in a context of a Business Plan. It is fine when you know what you are going to do and how you are planing to do it, however if you are not prepared for the WHAT IF’S then I can say you really hadn’t prepared and effective plan. How does one do the preparation? Well in the post are some ideas places to go but the one thing I did not do in advance of setting up my practice that some of my fellow past classmates did do was networking. I planed how much it will cost me for my license, how much my web should cost how I would market myself and yet I never thought oh wait a minute, what about networking our business is and most likely built on reputation. I submit that it is very important to network within the profession however it is just as important to net work outside of the profession. It is great I can plan build a legal case. It is great that I am a good advocate and defend my clients liability exposure, but what about bookkeeping, what about finding ways of sale your product and yes you are a sales man so lets not pretend. What about marketing not to mention letting people getting to know you so they can refer you to their friends. In your business plan I strongly recommend you find out the cost to network and the cost to learn how to network effectively. You should know in advance who or where you are going to get your clients and direct you networking to those groups that represent your target group. Once you do this then you can add it to your plan not to mention within most groups you will find a banker, financial adviser, realtor and so on.

  2. Hi. I studied at triOS College in Windsor, Ontario. I had worked in communications for MANY years, primarily in promotion and education, in a church setting. I created videos, newsletters, taught communications, lead a creative arts team, etc., etc. I was laid off three years ago and I had one job interview in six months. So, I went back to school, because I knew Paralegals were often self-employed. Over my desk I have a number of inspirational items, including a quote from a pastor who said, “Move to the danger!” Every time I feel overwhelmed, I look at that, suck it up and move. I may end up bankrupt, but as I used to say to my creative arts team, “If you are going to go down, go down spectacularly!” It is important to plan, but at some point you have to stop the planning and start the work, even if you feel unprepared. Even the best plans need adjustments along the way and you can paralyze yourself trying to perfect a plan. So, my advice is do your best planning and then go for it!

  3. Very informative article. I am wondering, Kevin, where you took your courses and what you did prior to this career change? I would love to have the nerve to do what you are doing but do not feel confident enough in my abilities. So I wait for an opportunity to join a firm situation though I have been licensed for a year now.

  4. Great article!!

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