One of the basic but important first steps in establishing your own business is planning the set-up of your divorce services office. Here are some recommendations to help you set up and start your own peaceful divorce business.
When just starting out, many people start their peaceful divorce business in a home office. This can work well, but there are certain guidelines you need to follow.
First, you will need to adhere to zoning laws and other legal restrictions. Set up a business office space that is totally separate from your living quarters and personal office use. This not only helps you with keeping your business organized, but will make tax matters considerably easier.
Second, your home business office should include a place to meet with your customers (not your living room or kitchen table). Make it look professional and orderly, which will give a good impression and help your clients feel comfortable.
A better option and one we always recommend is to consider an instant office or shared office space.
Shared office space
There are a couple of options that will allow you to share resources with others to save costs.
One is to use an instant office where for a couple of hundred dollars a month you receive a real office address, receptionist service and the use of a professional conference room to meet with your clients. You still work out of your home, but this option is low cost and provides a real professional experience for your clients.
A second option is to find a shared office. Many companies today are looking for additional revenue and have vacant offices that they are willing to rent. Ideally, find a situation where resources such as printing, copying, mailing, front office services, etc. can be shared as well.
At a minimum, you will need a good-sized desk, two chairs for clients, and a comfortable office chair for yourself. Get one with good support, as you will be spending many hours sitting there! When your business starts to grow, you may want to hire an assistant, and of course you will need to get a desk and ergonomic chair for that person as well.
If possible, try to have a small waiting area with a sofa or some chairs, with a few magazines in a rack or on a side-table. This could be an ideal place to set out brochures about your business, including any other types of legal services you provide besides divorce.
Whatever your office set-up is, try to make it a comfortable and non-intimidating environment. You want your clients to know they are in a safe and friendly place.
Besides seating and work areas, you will need some storage furniture. A bookshelf is a necessity for holding your legal reference books, books on divorce, and procedure binders. You will also require some filing cabinets; be sure to get sturdy ones with easy access drawers.
Of course, you need to have a computer. You may want choose a laptop over a desktop if you plan on working with clients outside of a home office. This way you can take your business with you at all times.
The computer you choose should have better than average memory and processing speed. A 15” large screen or larger is beneficial for your eyes, plus it makes it easy to show your clients the work that’s being done.
You’ll be printing a lot of documents, so invest in a good laser printer. Court documents don’t require color copies, so you can save some money by getting a black-and-white printer.
You will also have to copy a lot of documents, so relying on an all-in-one printer can make this a time-consuming task. If you can, rent, lease or share a traditional copy machine.
A reliable telephone system is essential, but it doesn’t have to be costly. A two-line phone, which you can get at any office supply store, is probably ample. For an answering system, find something that will hold at least 30 minutes of messages. You will also need a way to fax documents.
In addition to basic office software, such as Microsoft Office, you will need the following:
Accounting software (such as QuickBooks)
Legal software (for legal forms, calculating child and spousal support, etc.)
Besides the usual desk and file drawer items, don’t forget the following:
Legal books on the type of forms you need to type
2-hole punch – many courts require documents to be pre-punched before submission
Rubber stamps with business name and address
“Please Sign Here” yellow tags
Business card holder
Marketing materials (business cards, brochures, client packets, etc.)
It is important to have a good office set-up that works for you and all the basic office needs are at your fingertips. Remember projecting a professional image to your clients doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Proper planning for administrating your business will make things a lot easier and stress free for you.
One way to make setting up and running your business much easier is to join the Divorce With Dignity Network. We have a proven business model that provides a turnkey solution. Would you like to learn more about how we can help your peaceful divorce business succeed? Then we invite you to visit us at PeacefulDivorceBusiness.Com.