Solo Doesn’t Mean Alone: Collaborating and Contracting as Millennial Entrepreneurs

~ Written by Mary Tongel ~

A week ago, the firm rolled out a new logo designed by Mike Cagle, a friend and legal colleague. To celebrate, fellow attorneys and collaborators gathered at Apex Bar in Portland to catch up over a few drinks and to celebrate the design.

Screenshot 2018-07-23 15.15.54The main design.

Generally speaking, small businesses thrive when they work as a part of their community, recognizing that diverse perspectives collaborating together can solve problems creatively. While some attorneys venture out solo to “hang their shingles,”  they – like most entrepreneurs – rarely do anything alone.

01Friends of Erwin Legal gather to celebrate the new logo. From left to right: Robert Parker, Erica Erwin, Jack Kinsey, Cera Oh, and Mike Cagle, at Apex brewery.

By necessity, small business owners reach out to their networks to contract website designs, social media upkeep, graphic design, accounting, video editing, etc. As a byproduct of surviving the past few decades, most young adults have more than one skillset. Undergraduate and graduate friends can turn out to be unique assets. Our social networks contain a vast amount of knowledge if we just pay attention.

At the same time, young adults often get a bad rap as being lazy and entitled. Recently, a “study” showed that “Millennials Would Rather Drink at Home because They’re Lazy.”

Unsurprisingly, this received a bit of backlash.

You can read the full article HERE. Apparently, Millennials are running small businesses, beginning to make political strides, pushing on in spite of massive student debt, and (probably) drinking at home A) to save money, and B) because they would rather pay their neighbor Joe $30 for a barrel of his home-brewed craft IPA. Thanks Joe!

Just because young adults are operating differently, doesn’t mean we’re shunning traditional relationships. I would actually like to argue the opposite. We prefer a few close connections to the scattershot methods of our predecessors.

Similarly, Erwin Legal strives to foster personal relationships not only with clients, but with the community as a whole. That means taking the time to share skills and knowledge. This collaborative economy ties in with the reemerging barter economy that the blog previously mentioned. An attorney might trade a basic cohabitation agreement review for a website design. Accountants may trade tax advice for gardening assistance. Professionals are increasingly reaching into their networks to contract out work.

In summary, meaningful partnerships and contracting out work helps small business do three major things:

  1. Focus more on clients. Less time spent designing a logo, updating client databases, or even making tedious copies of forms means more time and attention for clients and their needs.
  2. Build meaningful relationships and networks within the community. Rather than paying an impersonal big design firm or paying a stranger from an online ad to design a site or logo, reaching out to other local entrepreneurs builds trust that lasts.
  3. Receive better referrals. The more a small business can galvanize its networks to do good work, build relationships, and establish trust, the more referrals that business will receive. It’s really that simple.

Altogether, the American legal system is adversarial, but firm and business management need not be. Contracting and collaboration can be an excellent way to foster relationships, help a community’s economy, and make solo practice a lot less lonely.

Erwin Legal focuses on business and nonprofit guidance and dispute resolution. As a modern firm for modern clients, our goal is to find creative solutions for our clients’ unique needs. Let’s collaborate together!

For more information on our services please don’t hesitate to contact us

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