Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Laura Vazquez, Founder of LV Legal Administrative Services, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I run a legal administrative business where I provide Law Clerk and legal administrative support to sole practitioners, paralegal practices, and law firms. Additionally, I provide virtual assistant and office administrative support to corporate-level executives and organizations in various industries.
Tell us about yourself
I never thought I would see myself taking the entrepreneurial road, especially since most Law Clerks tend to work in-house as a part of departmental legal teams, for example. For many years after graduating with my Specialized Honours B.A. in 2012 and then my Diploma in Legal/Law Clerk Studies in 2014, I worked in-house, gaining experience and exposure to different areas of Law. Then in 2020, thanks to COVID-19, life threw a few curveballs at my family (and all of us, really!). I stumbled upon the chance to work freelance with some lawyers and colleagues in my industry. With total skepticism (I'll admit!) I started to take on projects here and there and quickly realized that with my experience providing legal and administrative support, my exposure to more than one area of Law, and the reality that many firms and companies began changing gears toward "remote-work acceptance" during this time, an opportunity to help firms and lawyers while also maintaining autonomy over my work-life balance needs arose and at that point, why not go all-in?
This was the first step of many that led me to where I am now. I'm grateful for turning a difficult and tumultuous time into a chance for believing in myself and being open to creating new and interesting professional opportunities. My business has not only provided me with the opportunity to assist firms within different areas of Law (quenching my interest to never stop learning) but also allowed me to meet interesting people and assist professionals within and outside of my home country, Canada. This is an opportunity that some years ago would be very rare for a legal administrative professional to carry out. Having the chance to continue to learn, have autonomy over my schedule, and, most importantly, assist others continues to be my daily motivation.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My greatest accomplishment so far is that I have managed to retain clients and build long-lasting professional relationships, and, ultimately, I've also helped them [my clients] aid their own clients or customers with [sometimes] very complicated/delicate matters. I'm just glad I was able to be a part of the solution and support needed to help all client objectives to be met.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that come with being a business owner is making sure you allocate enough time to work on your own branding, administrative and operational needs and that you do not forget to prioritize these tasks that can take lots of time and generally, are non-billable work/unpaid but integral to making sure your business runs smoothly.
This can be hard sometimes when overhead costs are high, or you have issues with payment for work or timely payment (this can happen to freelancers!), or you've already allocated most of your time to working on the consulting/industry-specific work requested of you by your clients. It can sometimes feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to squeeze in the administrative stuff, but believe me, having these things in order are essential to staying organized and running a legitimate business, whether big or small!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Try some freelancing work (if you can or as a side gig to build an online presence) in your industry before launching your business if you're unsure. This could help give you an opportunity to "test the waters" and see if the schedule and lifestyle of being an entrepreneur work for you or if you prefer a traditional work setting. This will also allow you the opportunity to see what competing entrepreneurs are doing in your industry, what you're up against, and what YOU can bring to the table that will/may set you apart as a business afterward.
- Plan Ahead! Create a business plan, brainstorm, and plan out what your schedule may look like weekly and how you might block in for client work to get a better picture of how many hours of work per week and/or how many clients per week you may need to make a reasonable wage or at minimum compensate for start-up costs for your business in the initial stages. Also, make sure to have savings or some kind of financial cushioning, if possible, before going all-in! You have to be prepared to lose some money before you can make some money, and when you go out on your own, you become the accounting department and the HR department, etc., so making sure you get paid will be a task on your list to follow up on! Make sure you have a Plan A and a backup plan always because adaptability will definitely be required of you.
- Be Patient! It takes time to build a client base, and patience is key here. Don't give up at the first sign of 'failure'! Do not get discouraged and be open to taking on new projects that can create an opportunity for growth while always being honest about the expertise and services you bring to the table and cognizant of your own limitations too. This takes time and is not an easy balance, I admit, but your clients and your business will thank you for it later, and you'll build resilience on an individual level too.
- Always put everything in writing! It helps keep everyone on the same page :)
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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