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My top 10 lessons learned from 10 years in practice

My top 10 lessons learned from 10 years in practice

When I set up SCE Solicitors in 2011, I had a good idea of where I wanted to take the business and the kinds of clients I wanted to help. I knew of course that I would be able to draw on my years’ experience working in practice. But when setting up in business for the first time, there are some things you can’t plan for – some aspects of running a business that you perhaps haven’t thought of or simply haven’t had the experience of.

The learning curve from a personal experience has been huge but all so worth it.

Here are my top 10 lessons learned:

1. Being my authentic self – leading over managing

Managing and leading are clearly both important in running a successful business and its really important to understand the difference. To me leadership is about inspiring, encouraging and guiding my team to do their best. Management is more about making decisions, solving problems and helping to meet our clients’ expectations.

Knowing when to foster one over the other has been the challenge but I feel really lucky in having the people I have around me. They are all highly capable and enable me to focus on leading the business.

2. Set achievable goals

Setting achievable goals was always going to be important to give clarity to my vision of what the business was going to be. Breaking the overarching aims down into something achievable and that resonates at an individual level has been key to our success.

The team knows exactly what we’re aiming to achieve and the small wins are motivational and carry us on to the next steps.

3. Explore and understand your values and build a team who live by the same value and culture

Values are a central component to the business and the team’s success. They clarify to our employees and clients alike what we stand for. I believe they make it easier to make decisions and guide us to fulfilling ours and our clients’ objectives helping us grow and develop,.

4. Learn to say “no”

Saying “no” nicely is not an easy thing to do and can simply feel wrong, but I think is essential in business and possibly one of the most important learning points on my list. It has helped me to maintain a bit of sanity over the years and remain in control of the direction of the business and able to focus on more meaningful work.

5. Learning to let things go

I believe that nobody can build a successful business without making any mistakes which is certainly true of me. The important thing is making sure we learn from our mistakes and move on. Overthinking and dwelling are negative emotions that can stand in your way if you let them.

6. Build a strong network to help in difficult times

The need for guidance when you’re setting up your own business should never be
under-estimated and this is where my network has come in. I have people in my network who I can call on for snippets of advice or as a support during a challenging time and for this I am hugely appreciative.

Building and maintaining a network of industry contacts is one simple way to ensure a continued level of guidance throughout your career.

7. Looking after existing clients

Being a small business and working in the sector that we do, often dealing with people going through difficult times, I have come to realise that it can be the small things that really count. Going the extra mile and showing that you really care about your clients can make all the difference.

8. Understanding marketing and finance

I can’t deny that ‘admin’ has ever been a strong point or something I enjoy doing (who does?!) however the wheels of business don’t turn without them. The key I have learned is to find the right people to help you and align your objectives to keep you on track.

9. Ensuring the team remains accountable to each other

Building a great team around me and nurturing our little team has been one of my biggest achievements. We encourage each other, communicate openly, share ideas and make sure we collaborate to deliver our objectives.

10. Outsourcing when you cannot employ the expertise in-house

Last but not least, knowing when you need some extra support has been a life changer for me and utilising external resource allows you to maintain your focus on your job, knowing that everything else is being taken care of.

If there is anything else you would add I would love to hear about it.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and litigation practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide. Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here. 

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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