From corporate to running your own business from scratch is a huge transition – especially when you’re starting out with a laptop, three clients and a lot of hustle.
In today’s episode, we’re chatting with Andrea Henry, owner of Henry Business Law about her unbelievable business growth journey over the last few years to help women protect the beautiful businesses that give them the freedom and agency they crave so they can grow with confidence.
Start with your passion
Starting off as a litigator, Andrea saw so many people get into trouble over hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more, for things that they could have avoided. This led to the creation of her practice that helps entrepreneurs both avoid those problems but also figure out how they can use the law to get closer to where they want to be in their business. With a special focus on women who are moving from six figures to seven figures, she assists them in the growth phase – especially in the moments it starts getting more complicated! It was also important for her to have her own firm so that she could be the mom that she wanted to be.
Success comes from experience
Throughout her journey, Andrea made many mistakes that help and informs her advice to clients who are now starting a business or who are a growth phase:
“When I was a baby lawyer, the first few years, I don’t know that I was paying that much attention to firms to the business side of things. The big thing I think I took away was that I did not want to be like the traditional law firm. When I started with the firm I started with a business partner and we would just complain about how things were too stuffy and we didn’t need to use this really rigid language. So I guess kind of learning what not to do is what informed it more. And the more I was myself and my business the moment this was true.”
Getting momentum on your business growth
When Andrea decided to stop her business partnership, she left with two clients. With her family and owning her own firm, she needed more clients to pay the bills. The solution to finding new clients? Network.
Andrea didn’t know that much about business – she attended various seminars to get as much information as she could. This turned out to give her more than she sought out to gain because her target clients were there as well!
Initially, when she started, she didn’t have a whole lot of childcare. This meant that most of her meetings were networking events with other moms during the day. After she went to four or five of them, she noticed there weren’t lawyers there. All of the women, whom some of them had thriving businesses, caused Andrea to imagine herself as their lawyer helping them protect their business – especially since they have so many things in common.
“I don’t have to hide the fact that I have kids, which you do sometimes in corporate. I can bring my whole self to work. And I can help these people and I can sort of practice in a way that makes sense to me and is joyful for me. So that’s where it started.”
Networking for introverts
You wouldn’t know it today, but back then Andrea was a really reluctant networker. As an introvert, she prefers smaller groups of people – the key to her networking success. She allowed herself to not have to meet everyone.
“For me, the test of a successful networking event is to have met one maybe two people that I was able to form a connection with. I was not trying to work the whole room. I wasn’t trying to like give out cards, one to two people. And I’m just curious by nature, so I asked a lot of questions. People like to talk about themselves. Right? So I’m asking questions, and they’re like, oh, you’re a brilliant conversationalist. I haven’t said anything.”
Andrea asked a lot of questions about what it is that they’re doing, how did they come up with this business idea, how they got their clients and if it’s an event with the other moms, how do they balance their business and their kids.
People like to have an opinion and are usually happy when someone is interested in hearing their opinion or hearing their story. You all want to be authentically interested – it needs to be genuine. We can all sniff out when someone’s asking questions just because they’re going through their Rolodex of questions. It’s not thinking that you have to meet 30 people (it’s impossible to make a connection with that many people) but rather, aiming to make two key relationships.
Andrea is far more interested in relationships than in transactions. When she goes to a networking event, she hopes to meet some lovely, interesting people and chat with them. Her focus is not on getting clients, referral partners or handing out business cards – it’s to develop genuine connections.
How to become more approachable
When Andrea was a litigator, she would ask people, “why did you not go to a lawyer beforehand? What came across a lot?” She knew that it was expensive but the main reason was the approachability. People just did not feel comfortable going into these really stuffy offices where people that they thought were going to be condescending, and so it was really important to her that people felt that she was approachable and that they could ask her anything.
Andrea added, “every time I met someone, whether you know whether the client retained me or not, I would always send a note. It’s really lovely to meet you at whatever it was that we talked about. And most times I send a little brownie. I didn’t have any advertising budget, but the marketing budget was the card and the brownies, and I found that helped me stand out in a sea of emails. And I wanted people to experience that when they interact.
“I don’t want to” is a good enough reason
Her first major hurdle was having a business partner. And about a year to a year and a half into it, it became really apparent that they were not on the same page and that she could not continue. While they are still very good friends, they didn’t make the best business partners. Even though she knew that the right decision was to leave, she found it very difficult to do so.
She discovered later that “I don’t want to” is a good enough reason. Those words are so liberating because, for a long time, she needed to justify everything and felt very responsible for all manner of people around her (besides her children.) Saying this allowed her to say “no, if this is not in my best interest, that this is making me feel stressed and not happy. It’s okay to say this relationship is not going to work out.”
Self-care is a business investment
And then the very next month, Andrea was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. At this point she thought, “Okay, so what I’ve been doing up to this point, can no longer work.” And up to that point, self-care was a completely foreign concept to her. If she was not working, she was doing something for her children. The idea of doing something that would replenish her or take care of her health, spirit and mind did not exist because she felt guilty.
When she was working, she felt guilty that she wasn’t spending time with her children. And when she was with her children, she would feel like she wasn’t spending enough time on the business.
Thankfully, it was caught relatively early and today, Andrea is doing well. This event was a true wake-up call to remind her to listen to her body – especially when it’s telling you to slow down. The business has grown exponentially and a lot of that is because she is happier and taking care of herself so she’s more efficient.
“An hour now accomplishes more than an hour two years ago when I was running on three hours of sleep a night.”
Andrea also spends a lot more time now listening to her gut – especially when it comes to high-level issues. The types of clients and projects she’s going to work on are things that she actually wants to do.
“It’s what I’ve learned is what you don’t do is just as important, if not more important than what you do. So being able to say no to the clients, or the relationships in general that are draining, saying no to projects that don’t fill your soul. And once we did that, I was like, Well, obviously, that’s why I don’t want to do the service because it has nothing to do with what my mission is. And so it became really clear. So the big difference in the business I think, is one been looking after myself and building a team but you know, the driving force of the business is still me.”
It is important to acknowledge that if you’re not doing well, your business won’t either. Self-care is a business investment.
Part of caring for yourself is to also build systems – Andrea needed to learn to ask for help building those systems, building the team, and really getting very comfortable with saying, “No thank you” for the things that you don’t want to do. You don’t have to say yes to every client, every project or every opportunity.
Data-driven decisions = the key to success
Numbers don’t lie – this is something that Andrea wishes she had paid more attention to early on.
Today, she’s obsessed with tracking stuff. Her advice? Track anything in the beginning: how many clients you have and whether it was enough to pay your bills and avoid bankruptcy. You can’t make good decisions by the seat of your pants, you really have to make data-driven decisions, you should have a gut check, you know, what feels right to you.
Data will allow you to find out where your clients or customers coming from. You may think it’s coming from this thing that’s taking you 20 hours a week or $5,000 a month. But really, most of your clients are coming from these two people whom you spend 15 minutes with – which is really important for self guarantee and life balance. Eliminate the things that aren’t helpful and focus on where your business is growing – without you feeling exhausted.
Resources From This Episode
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