Whether you’re finishing up your first year of practice or on your second or third year, it’s a perfect time to take a look at your budget and see if you’re on track or overspending. As with all businesses starting out, it’s easy to go overboard during the first year of operation (even when you think you’re being careful with your money).
As you gain more clients and recognition in the legal community, your income will increase as well, but make sure you’re not spending your hard earned money on unnecessary expenses.
Taking a Look at Your Budget
Assuming you have a budget, it’s a good idea to take a look at it more than once a year. If you you don’t have a solid budget or don’t take a look at it on a regular basis, it’s never too late to change. Creating a budget can be overwhelming and “checking in” with it on a regular basis can take some practice, but it’s crucial to your financial success (and making the most of your money). What if your law practice budget isn’t working? Revamp it if needed and continue to make changes until it’s accurate and easy to follow.
Make Changes to Your Budget
Your law firm’s budget is never set in stone. As your practice evolves, it’s likely that your budget will, too. Take a look at all of your expenses and see if they’ve changed and whether all of them are necessary. Here are just a few things to revisit and maybe reconsider:
Advertising: Getting exposure is crucial to gaining clients, particularly during your first year. Maybe your advertising budget goes to a telephone book ad, an online ad, a website, a billboard, and even a newspaper ad. After awhile, all of these add up and some are effective while others are not. It may be more cost effective to consider hiring a consulting firm to help you get optimal exposure. Additionally, in a world of networking, it’s always a good idea to keep your social media accounts updated and take advantage of the convenience of free advertising.
Telephone: Even if you have an office, you may spend a lot of your time out of the office and meeting with clients in a more casual or convenient setting, rather than the confines of your office. When you’re not at your office, you’re likely to miss a phone call or two whether you have a receptionist or not. While you can always go the mobile route, it’s a good idea to have a separate number for your firm. Having a landline can be an unnecessary expense, particularly if you rarely use it. Instead, take a look at services like Google Voice.
As you revisit your budget, there will be things that you notice you need and use more often than you thought you would and other things that you rarely use at all. As long as you keep the important “must haves” such as insurance and stay up-to-date on your memberships, there’s no reason why you need to keep spending money on unnecessary expenses. Just remember to check your budget often and make changes as needed.