Sometimes your career can lead you to your own venture. That’s what happened to Laurie Marshall when she left her corporate job. Laurie had first worked as in-house Trademark Counsel for Major League Baseball. After ten years, Laurie wanted to focus more on her family and left to work part-time at a law firm that represents the MLB clubs. A few years later, the law firm had to cut part-timers when the economy went south and this was the perfect time for Laurie to take a break.
However, a couple of weeks later, in labor and on the way to the hospital to deliver her second child, Laurie got a call from a team asking, “Can you still handle trademark work for us?” This was her entre into working for herself. This one MLB club grew to over a dozen clubs, but she still needed to expand her client base further to make her firm viable. With so many people losing their jobs and starting their own businesses, friends, and friends of friends, began to ask Laurie to do trademark work for them. She saw a niche being formed around her specialty.
“I wasn’t quite sure how to model my business but I saw a need from start ups.” Laurie cut her prices to appeal to small businesses and her volume grew. “I decided to offer a flat-fee for getting a trademark, including, searching the federal and state trademark data base, giving a legal opinion, preparing a trademark application and handling any non-substantive objections with the trademark office.” And she offered a 30 day turn around (all for $495). “Some start ups and small businesses want a 10 day turn around, and I offer a higher flat-fee for this expedited service.”
Laurie also saw where larger companies wanted to outsource to save money. “Fifty percent of my business comes from other law firms who know I’m a trademark specialist and they reach out to me.” How does Laurie get the word out on her niche business? “I speak everywhere – women’s groups, entrepreneurs’ groups, schools, panels – anywhere that there is an audience for start ups and a need for trademark assistance.”
With her own business, Laurie works from home but she has access to office space at some of the law firms that use her services. Interns are also a big part of helping her grow. “I was able to get interns from the local technical school to help with social media, marketing and accounting.” Additionally, a legal intern from the law school she attended has been invaluable as her business keeps expanding. Laurie believes the intern process is great for small businesses and for the intern looking to build his or her resume and base of experience.
Laurie spends a lot of time on marketing and networking; she was even chosen as a finalist in a Make Mine A Million competition, sponsored by Count Me In and American Express. “It’s incredibly empowering, never in a million years did I think I’d go out on my own. I could think of every reason not to – yet here I am. That’s the irony of the situation.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.tmtherspot.com
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