So you’re a young, ambitious, and bootstrapped entrepreneur? Excellent! But what about all those legal tidbits associated with running your own business that keep popping up? Chances are you’re not a legal professional as well. That’s where Rachel Rodgers comes in. She’s the young, ambitious lawyer who’s helping all you entrepreneurs take care of the legal stuff so you can grow your startup.
We caught up with Rachel to talk about the inspiration for Rachel Rodgers Law Office, staying optimistic, and why Twitter is her “water cooler.”
Tell us a little about your background
I was raised in Flushing, Queens, New York by my Irish-American mom and African-American dad. I have a big sister, who I am very close with (although we drove my mother nuts fighting when we were growing up). Growing up in a biracial family and growing up in Flushing, which at one point was the most diverse neighborhood in America, gave me an excellent exposure to many cultures and so many different types of people. That’s where my love of travel comes from and why I love to connect with new people and learn their backgrounds and their quirks. People’s differences make life interesting.
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
Whatever was at the top of my list the night before. Before I end my day, I’ll write down the 3 things that absolutely must get done the next day so I’ll start my day with something from that list. Usually its drafting a contract, handling a trademark application or some other important legal work for a client.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
I was a one woman show when I started my practice. Now, I have the pleasure of working with 6 other talented people, which I love. That’s the one thing I missed about a typical work environment when I started down the road of entrepreneurship: co-workers. You know, the awesome kind. Not the pain in the ass kind.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
Well during the early days I didn’t have kids yet and was highly motivated so I basically worked non-stop. I worked for a firm to pay the bills and resented having to go to work because it took time away from building my own practice. So I would get up at 5am and work on the business until 8am and then rush off to work. During lunch time I would return calls from potential clients and write articles. When I got home at 6pm, I would be back at it until Midnight.
I loved my days off from the day job because I could work on the business non-stop, all day. After leaving the firm, I kept up this same energy level and devotion for almost a year. I pretty much loved every minute of it. Of course, it was totally unsustainable but that time and energy I devoted to building my practice early on definitely paid off.
How do you handle frustration?
I deal with frustration everyday. Some deal I was trying to make doesn’t work out or gets delayed. Some technology is not working correctly. Some time consuming, bureaucracy headache comes up at entirely the wrong time. It pretty much happens in one way or another everyday. I just keep moving.
I am an incredibly optimistic person. So I might give myself an hour to “stomp my feet” and vent but then I get back to work and move on. Whenever I take a step back and look at my day or my week, I realize that I have exactly the life I worked so hard for, for so many years. Not to mention, pretty much everyday comes with a win as well – a great new client, a breakthrough idea, an energizing team meeting, etc. So setbacks and frustration? Eh, comes with the territory.
What’s your office environment like?
I work from home, so my office is super peaceful and quiet when my family is out for the day. When my daughter and husband are home, it can be raucous. I go back in my office and toil for a while, and then I come out and have lunch with the fam. Sometimes I take calls with my daughter on my lap or at my feet. Sometimes I’ll sit at the kitchen table and crank out a contract while baking banana bread. Other times, I go to a local coffee shop I love. I absolutely love the flexibility. I need that because I get easily bored.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
My family and I are relocating to LA later this year (we’ve moved a lot during the building of my practice which is why I chose to create an online-based law practice), where we will finally settle down. So in 5 years, I’ll have a physical office in LA, have a few other attorneys on staff and serve a broader client base. I’ll also have some additional products – such as books and classes – to meet the needs of new entrepreneurs.
My firm serves young entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs, and with both segments of business owners blowing up, I know our services are desperately needed by so many so I am excited about expanded and supporting even more entrepreneurs.
Who or what inspires you?
What keeps me inspired is my family. My mother was and is the biggest cheerleader. She really made me believe that I could do and be anything. She has enabled me to dream big so I am determined to make some of her deferred dreams come true.
Additionally, my husband, daughter and the little bean on the way (I am currently pregnant with my second child), keep me motivated to keep going so that I can create an even more amazing life for all of us. And its really important to me that I show my children that their dreams are important and worthy of being brought into fruition. The best way to show them that is to do it for myself.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Yes. Plan to be big. In fact, plan to be huge. When you believe that you are headed for big things you will see the value in investing in an accountant and a lawyer for your business. No, lawyers and accountants are not nearly as exciting as Google ads and business retreats but they will save you lots of money and lots of headaches along the way.
Nowadays there are many lawyers and accountants practicing virtually with low overhead and pricing structures that work for startups, so don’t skimp when it comes to protecting your business and your money!
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend?
I would live with my husband and kiddies in a villa in Provence and home school my children for the year. We would take cooking classes and French classes. We would visit museums and vineyards and cheese farms. We would spend summer days at the beach. We would grow a garden. I would cook massive feasts for my neighbors and fly my family and friends out to visit us regularly. I would take weekend trips all over Europe and start every day with a fresh croissant and cafe creme. And I would pinch myself every night before bed. That’s what I would do.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now?
I do feel successful. When I started, all I wanted was to be able to support my family while doing work I enjoy and having a flexible lifestyle. I have accomplished that. So, to me, that is success.
Of course, now I am ready to move on to the next level and my dreams have grown bigger. So I look forward to reaching the next level of success but at the same time, I literally thank God for my family and my work and my pretty amazing life every night.
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
Twitter. I love connecting with my colleagues, clients, friends, etc. on Twitter. Since I work from home, Twitter is like “the water cooler” for me. When I want to take a break and find out what the latest gossip is and what my peeps are up to, its where I go to connect.
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
Kindle. I love to read and if I leave my Kindle at home and wind up waiting at a doctor’s office, etc., I can open my Kindle app and pick up where I left off in whatever book I’m reading at the moment.
What’s the greatest thing about Rachel Rodgers Law Office?
The greatest thing about us is that we are probably the only law firm in the world custom tailored to serve young entrepreneurs. Our delivery methods, our pricing, our service packages, our customer service – it’s all designed to meet the needs of young entrepreneurs.
Where can our readers reach out to you?
Yes, I love connecting with people so here are some places to find me:
Definitely check out my video blog with legal tips for young entrepreneurs. I try to keep it entertaining. Also, look out for the Online Entrepreneur’s Non-Confusing Guide to Business Law. Its a workshop on business law for new entrepreneurs designed to help you get some of the legal stuff done for your business.
Thanks, Rachel! Love that you’re helping all of the young entrepreneurs out there who desperately need legal advice.
If you’re one of those ‘treps make sure you check out Rachel Rodgers Law Office. I’ve actually got something in the works that may need some tender lovin’ legal care. We’ll be in touch, Rachel!