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Thinking of Going Solo? Think processes.

I have met many people who have successfully transitioned to solo life as an attorney, patent agent, or other professional. I especially loved the opportunity because I got to make the entire business from scratch. On one hand, that is a terrifying thought where I had to figure everything out myself. On the other hand, it was immensely gratifying because I got to do things in a way that made sense to me.

As I was considering starting my own business, I spent a considerable amount of time designing processes with which I would run the business. I wanted to get on paper, or at least in my mind, how I was going to do things. I knew that I needed to be efficient, and I distinctly hate wasting time doing trivial things. So I set about trying to figure out how things would work smoothly.

At first, I was worried about how to handle engagement letters and other correspondence. I began to create a library of emails, letters, forms, or other documents that would serve as a basis for future work. Some of these templates took a considerable amount of time to create, and some of them I have used just a couple of times.

Some of the most useful time I spent when starting up was to map out many of my processes. How was I going to intake a new client? How did I track and monitor the progress of their patent case while I was writing it? How was I going to communicate with the client and bill them for work? I tried to think of everything that I was going to need to do and examine the steps that each one took.

This whole process helped take the intimidation factor out of starting a new business. Each process or each activity was a relatively simple, easy process that felt doable. Starting the entire business felt insurmountable, but when broken down into discrete pieces, it was not that bad.

As I thought about the processes that were going to define my business, I was able to design the business to be what I wanted it to be and reflect my values, as well as the value that I could bring to my clients. Because I understood the processes that my business would have to perform, I understood what it would take to operate the business. This perspective, more than anything else, turned the daunting idea of hanging a shingle into manageable, bite-sized pieces that were much easier to accomplish.