If you’re starting – or thinking of starting – an immigration law firm from scratch, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with how to get your firm off the ground. While it isn’t easy, you can still grow your firm and build it to $10k/month (or more) by keeping things simple at the beginning and putting in the work.
Here are 3 things to do, and 3 things to avoid doing, to set yourself up for success:
Sign up for Wix or Squarespace or Carrd or (insert drag-and-drog website builder here) and get a very basic website setup. Set a timer for 3 hours and don’t spend a second more than that (I can see all the perfectionists rolling their eyes at me right now – stop it!). You just want something professional enough for now – Home page, About Me, Contact. That’s it. Maybe Blog (see more on blogs below).
You just want to look like a proper business for now to get you off the ground.
I think this is the single biggest time/money sink when you’re starting a new immigration practice. Many people spend days and/or thousands of dollars building a custom website, and it often pushes the more important things (ie. getting clients) back longer than it should.
Get something basic going right away, then go get clients. As you start to grow and develop a specialty (see below), you can improve/re-design a website. If you follow everything else I suggest about networking, creating content, etc., your website isn’t going to win or lose you any clients anyway, it’s just a checkmark you want to show prospective clients you’re serious about your business.
Want proof? I don’t practice anymore, but my law firm website is still live. It sucks, and cost me $20/month with Squarespace, but got me to multiple 6-figures back in the day (check it out here if you want a good laugh).
Nothing beats a warm introduction, but you won’t get any unless people know what you’re doing.
Schedule catch up calls/coffees with every single person you know, ask about how they’re doing, what they’re focused on, how you can help them, and at the end, mention (in a non-salesy way) that you have your own immigration practice and are happy to help if anyone comes across their desk. The easiest and best way to secure a client is through a warm introduction, so you want to give yourself the best chance at receiving them!
It’s easy to get into the “I’ll take any kind of work because I have to pay the bills” mindset. And it’s fine to do for a bit, at the beginning.
But as soon as you can, narrow the scope of your practice down to 1-2 lines of work. Otherwise you’ll be spending hours a day marketing/selling to tons of different target markets and researching answers on topics you don’t know very well.
As soon as you can, niche down so you can build a reputation as “that guy/girl” in your niche (eg. economic immigration, litigation, refugee, etc.). In my case, I made some early progress helping Canadian tech companies with the Global Talent Stream and tripled down on it. Eventually it was 95% of my practice, and I could recite every requirement/exemption/step/detail off the top of my head, without blinking.
It sure made practicing, scaling and automating that much easier.
There’s no better opportunity to build relationships and get clients, other than networking above, right now than by creating content. I don’t even practice law anymore and I get 3-5 messages daily thanks to my LinkedIn/Tiktok/blog that I’ve built over the years.
Based on your focus/niche/area of law, pick 2 platforms (for now) and post every day. My favourites: LinkedIn, Youtube, Tiktok, Blog, IG, in that order. Start with 1-2 platforms so you don’t get bogged down and can actually build a quality audience before scaling to more platforms, or hiring someone to do it for you.
Too many people I talk to who are just starting out spend days – sometimes weeks – building and automating things that they haven’t even done for clients yet… because they don’t have any clients.
Go get clients first, service them the good old fashioned way, do things that don’t scale – then automate. Automating and scaling processes becomes 10x easier if you’ve done them manually 50+ times (ironic, I know).
When I was practicing, I tried the fancy platforms and didn’t find any of them great (or worth the money). I used Google Docs, Hellosign, Zapier and Trello once I had a steady stream of business coming in and found those to be good enough (until we started Visto.ai to help immigration professionals work 3x faster).
At the end of the day, business is like most things and by keeping it simple, you’ll actually make more progress than if you overcomplicate it. Don’t get caught up in fancy websites or complex automation systems just yet. Focus on bringing in consistent revenue first and then you can scale and automate from there.
And when you’re ready to scale, of course make sure to check out our immigration software that helps Canadian immigration firms prep and file applications 3x faster thanks to automation and AI.