Small businesses—particularly in a recession—encounter a variety of financial and operational risks. As an attorney representing many small businesses, you can help current clients mitigate these risks, and ameliorate your working relationship with them at the same time.
With a few, simple changes, your firm can also attract new small-business clients. Here’s how.
First, understand the risks small businesses face.
For example, a 2010 study conducted by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners revealed that small businesses are victimized at higher rates than large businesses (via the Orlando Sentinel).
The study found that 30 percent of business fraud occurred in companies with 100 or less employees, and more than half occurred in businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees (via the Orlando Sentinel).
Small businesses are usually in denial about the extent of employee extortion or embezzlement, and these companies often can’t afford the measures to prevent it.
In addition to employee fraud, small businesses also face an increased risk of lack of liquidity, property theft, and costly litigation.
Small companies wait until the final hour to inform their lawyers of possible trouble—in part, to save on attorneys’ fees, and in part because they believe issues can be handled in-house.
However, if informed earlier, firms are more likely to be able to successfully control the damage done to a small-business client at risk.
So, to encourage full and early disclosure on the part of its clients, firms should circulate a monthly newsletter that includes pertinent data and economic developments within relevant industries, as well as basic advice regarding the use of technology, security measures, and federal requirements.
Small businesses—inundated with work during hard economic times—sometimes need a friendly reminder about legal basics, such as the restrictions on asking certain questions during the hiring process, employee contracts, or social media pitfalls.
With so many new federal laws and changing state regulations, lawyers, themselves, will benefit from conducting research for such a newsletter. With minimal effort, a firm can both educate its associates and also aid its small-business clients in preventing costly litigation.
Initially, offer the newsletter as a free entry on your firm’s blog site. Then, once your newsletter has received adequate blogosphere attention, provide a more in-depth version exclusively to your clients.
The public version will attract new clients who appreciate your firm’s expertise and thoroughness.
The appeal of receiving a more detailed version will provide additional incentive for small businesses to sign with your firm.
Finally, your current clients will see this newsletter as a value-add and a gesture of good faith on the part of your firm—essential for when it comes down to renewing that attorney-client agreement.
In the end, the more forthcoming you are as a firm, the more likely you will be able to attract and retain clients.