I asked authors of chapters in my newly revised Path to Legal Nurse Consulting, Second Edition, to share advice for starting up a legal nurse consulting business. Here is what they had to say.
There are a few lessons from my business I think are important to share.
1. Be ready when opportunity knocks. I had no idea what was behind the door when I opened it. Nevertheless, I stepped blindly through. My story is not one of risk but of being drawn to certain people and being willing to continue to travel the path.
2. Successful independent LNC practice demands perseverance and fortitude. I see many LNCs give up too soon. Working full time and juggling LNC work takes commitment. Subcontracting is the best way to get started. Learning from others is key to success. No one knows it all.
3. Allow failure. I managed to build a good practice out of the ashes of my former practice. I am better having gone through that process though I did not enjoy the journey so much. The successful LNCs are those who continue to work hard building their business while being open to change. Building a successful LNC practice is not easy, but I have found it to be a labor of love.
Lessons learned from starting a legal nurse consultant business
• Nursing experience builds over a career. Draw on your experience.
• Learning never ends. End each day asking yourself, “What did I learn?”
• Opportunity knocks. Open the door and accept the challenge.
• Believe in your dream. This doesn’t diminish the hard work that enables success.
• Believe in yourself. Think you can and then know you can!
• Find your niche. Nursing is a diverse field; work in an area you know the best.
• Be objective in case analysis. Not all of your opinions will be popular.
• Be honest. This action is always defensible.
• Seek out a supportive network. This enables learning and emotional support on the tough days.
• Listen. When I was told to listen, keep my mouth shut, and follow directions it was the best advice I ever received as a new field of practice became a reality.
• Word of mouth is the best marketing tool. You are only as good as the last case you did
• A short-term and long-term revenue stream is helpful as it may take a long time for a case to resolve and daily bills don’t stop. With this in mind you may want to continue your “day job” as you build your legal nurse consulting business.
Legal nurse consultants: don’t give up
New LNCs: don’t give up. If you have a strong desire to be a successful LNC, keep striving. It is not magical and will not happen overnight. Only very few will hit the field making a large sum of money the first year. Always be honest to yourself and your clients. Never tell them anything but the truth, and remember that as nurses, we have so much to offer to the legal community.
Final legal nurse consultant business start up tips
Ask questions of other LNCs and attorneys regarding what a great work product looks like. Make your work product stand out. Pick apart every medical record page by page. Find the perfect balance between speed and quality, as tight deadlines will come your way. Brand yourself. When an attorney receives your work product with your name on it, does that mean anything? It should. There shouldn’t be spelling errors. It should be easy to understand. It should be thorough, yet concise. The writing should flow well. It should tell a story that any lay person can understand.
The most important advice is to hustle. The field is competitive and it takes hunger to succeed. Learn enough to be the best at what you do, so that any client who gets your brand of product is confident of its accuracy. Take a lesson from Donald Trump and diversify your portfolio of service offerings.
Try different sides of litigation. Your work product doesn’t have to mimic others. Learn from others but dare to be different. The LNC business is evolving. We are moving beyond simple case summaries. We are forensic reviewers. Attorneys and legal professions want to know what we think. Make sure you are always prepared and can answer confidently.
More options are developing within the LNC field. It is, however, a great leap of faith. You don’t have to stop working at your normal job, and it is safer to get your experience part-time or prn. I suggest seeking an LNC course; however, you will learn the most on the job, whether you are an in-house LNC or working for yourself. Be sure to seek a mentor in the field.
I wish you the best on your LNC journey. With hard work, it can become a rewarding career and a great way to apply all of your nursing experience.
Crystal McNeal Utley
Get 42 chapters of similar tips in Patricia Iyer (Editor) Path to Legal Nurse Consulting, Second Edition, at this link.