The origins of our startup aren’t glam or sexy like others you’ve probably heard about. We aren’t disillusioned Silicon Valley techies. We aren’t HBS grads looking to make headlines (although an occasional headline would be nice, we admit). We are a group of small business owners frustrated with our past experiences with legal services professionals. In the past, we’d mull over our experiences with business lawyers, wondering where we went wrong and if things could have turned out differently if we’d done more research. One day, we came decided something had to be done about it.
We knew intuitively the idea behind LawyerFair, our legal service comparison website, was a winner. After all, wearing our business owner hat, we knew there were others out there like us who use lawyers and are not always thrilled by the experience. In addition, industry news and market research confirmed our view that change is rapidly becoming inevitable in the legal services market. So, using past experience, some market research and a hunch, we decided to act quickly, and get out into the market.
Within weeks of our initial idea, we launched, breathing, screaming, gasping for air and hungry for food. Some Dunkin Donuts helped solve the latter problem but after that, it was year zero and we were off.
What is exciting about launching with such rapidity is that we’re not spending too much time pondering about what might/might not work. We’re using Eric Ries’ lean startup mentality, and it is working out well so far. We’re getting the core idea out and working with market feedback to shape the message and value of what we offer. It hasn’t been too difficult. We knew from our own experiences of the disconnect between SMEs and legal services. We also knew from industry news and market surveys that SMEs in general felt pretty grumpy with lawyers. And finally, we conducted our own pre-launch market research by speaking with business owners and lawyers.
But until you’re out in the market, talking, responding and managing real people and real issues, it’s all theory and the Qs remain just that ….
- Have we pitched it right?
- Will the messaging work?
- Will the research mutate into activity?
It’s only when you launch that answers start rolling in and you are able to match what you have to what the market wants.
What’s the verdict after four months of LawyerFair?
A combination of excitement, surprise, head scratching and ultimately, busy, busy days are what we’ve experienced in the past four months. It has been the roller coaster you might expect when rapidly launching a new business.
We know from here that it’s as much about the execution as the idea. It’s about how we debate, deconstruct and deliver, in response to what the market is telling us, that will make this project fly or die. Things are looking good so far. We’re building up a really talented panel of lawyers and business owners are responding warmly to the competitive tendering process. Just yesterday, we received the kind of feedback that reassures us we’re heading in the right direction. And just as importantly, we’re building a team who really care about the service we’re delivering and the value it can add to business owners. That makes a huge difference. Particularly during the days when the phone doesn’t ring or the back office stalls or the Dunkin Donuts run out …
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