While there’s no magic wand to be waived (or “quick & easy steps”) to guarantee success in business, after years of serving as a lawyer for hundreds of small businesses (ranging from construction companies to physician’s practices), as well as a business owner myself, I’ve compiled a short list of down and dirty steps to business success. Clearly, this list isn’t exhaustive but merely a few things I have seen as a constant with clients who are successful. Also, as this is written by a lawyer, take note of the fact that it’s written from the perspective of how a partnership with a good lawyer or firm will help achieve the success you’re looking for.

Step One: Have a Solid Business Concept and Plan: Foolishly, many business owners go too quickly from concept to opening the doors without considering their target markets, pro forma costs, break-even analysis, or other valuable planning tools. With the availability of online business plans, take the time to sit down and write a formal business plan. While it may seem laborious, it will help you identify important information about your concept and some financial realities that you may not have otherwise considered. Also, it can help you practice articulating your plan to key investors or potential customers. This is probably the most important step that most people will disregard.

Step Two: Understand the “Cost of doing Business” Issues: Nearly everyone has the same goal: launch the business quickly for as little money as possible. Unfortunately, in many instances, this translates into failing to spend the money on hiring a lawyer or accountant to handle important legal and financial issues like setting up a business entity (e.g., Limited Liability Company, Corporation, or Partnership) and setting up proper bookkeeping services. Do yourself a favor, understand that starting a company will have certain costs beyond just printing your business cards and setting up a website. You will need to allocate some resources up front to setting up a proper legal foundation for your business. Under no circumstance should you just do-it-yourself via the internet. Speak to a professional who has worked with businesses and understands issues which you may not know. 

Step Three: Don’t Under Capitalize: Even with proper business planning, odds are you may need more money than you are budgeting to get off the launchpad. While you may not have access to unlimited resources (very few people have as much as they feel they “need” to start), you should anticipate that you will need more money than you are planning for unanticipated needs.

Step Four: Be Serious about Collections: While some businesses collect for goods or services at the time the good is purchased or service is rendered (think of buying a hamburger, you pay when you get it), some businesses allow customers to buy on credit or pay when the job is done. If your business is this type (such as a construction company), I strongly recommend you visit with a lawyer about establishing a collections policy that includes a step-by-step method of collections. For my clients, I typically design a system that includes timely bookkeeping, friendly reminder notices to clients, demand letters from the company, a timeline to invoke a lawyer’s services for collection, and a general policy about filing suit (or liens) against clients for unpaid services. The bottom line, be serious about getting paid for your work. Never be forced to “donate” services to someone else. Only do pro bono work when you choose to do so.

Step Five: Market Your Services: Depending upon your industry and field of work, you should devote some reasonable, regular amount of both time and money to marketing your services or company. As a lawyer, I spend about 20% of my time and about 5% of my monthly income on marketing to potential clients (which can include former clients as well as new clients). Marketing is a deceptively simple task that can be much more confusing than you might think. Advertising (which is technically different from marketing) can be very expensive and time-consuming so finding the proper method of doing both is critically important. Just like doing the business plan, consider doing a marketing plan (and re-evaluate it at least annually). Also, make sure any marketing you do can be measured for success (in other words, have a method to track where your clients originate from).

There are no guarantees in business and, most often, success is created by years of hard work (and, often, some failure along the way). Be patient, be dedicated, and don’t give up. No matter where you are along the way, whether you have just started or been in business for years, understand you should use a qualified lawyer to help you be successful. Our firm has represented hundreds of business owners and companies in their journey for success and we want to help yours, as well. Call or email our firm today to set a complimentary business consultation so that we can learn how to help you. Most consultations are completely free of charge. Contact us today. (469) 607-4505.

ATTORNEY CHRIS PARVIN is Board Certified in Estate Planning & Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Parvin is the Managing Partner of the Dallas, Texas law firm of Parvin Law Group, P.C. and serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law. Mr. Parvin can be reached by email at chris@parvinlaw.com

Parvin Law Group, P.C. is a Concierge Law Firm in Dallas, Texas with attorneys practicing law in the fields of Estate Planning, Probate, Business Law and Family Law.