I taught a program at the National Nurses in Business Association on the factors that lead to a successful business. Read part 1 and Part 2. Here are some strategies you can implement to create a strong legal nurse consulting practice.
1. Leverage your time and talent. You will build a stronger legal nurse consulting practice if you use subcontractors. Hire people who have particular expertise in an area you lack, such as a different type of clinical nursing, to review cases for you. This is a better use of your time than to try to master the nuances of a different area of nursing. Without subcontractors, your income will be dependent on the number of hours you can work.
In 1989, I got a call from an attorney who wanted me to review an emergency department case as an expert. I told him I was not an ED nurse, but knew one who would be excellent for his case. After I connected them, I realized they would both benefit from the introduction, but I had just done a lovely unpaid favor. This was the impetus for forming med League and recruiting a pool of nursing expert witnesses.
2. Train your subcontractors well. Explain your expectations, give them sample work product, review their samples, and be quick to correct and reject those who are not capable of doing the work. I recall getting a phone call from an attorney who told me my expert had poor grammar and spelling skills. At that time, I did not have a policy in place to proofread our experts’ reports. I was horrified by what I saw. We quickly started a proofreading policy which has saved much embarrassment over the years. It helps us evaluate and strengthen the skills of our experts.
3. “Hire slowly, fire quickly.” There is a great deal of wisdom in that expression. Carefully screen employees. A typo on a resume is enough for me to set it aside. I have fired employees for absenteeism, incompetence, and poor attitude. Be grateful when a marginal employee quits. Although it costs short term disruption, it is far better for a person to self-select out of your system. Don’t tolerate marginal work performance. There are far better people looking for work.
4. Use controls in your business. Avoid providing embezzlement and theft opportunities. When you have employees, have one person open the mail and another person deposit the money. Do not allow employees to sign checks; no one should be able to sign except for the owner. (One of my colleagues caught an employee buying a personal computer charged to the company credit card. The employee counted on the owner not looking at the credit card bill. It was a fluke that the owner saw the bill and caught the purchase.)
Allow only extremely trustworthy employees to access bank accounts. Be very careful about allowing employees to remotely access your server. We do not allow this in our company. Someone could get ahold of a laptop or desktop computer in an employee’s home and gain access to the company’s data. And if that employee quits or gets fired, how will you keep your data safe?
5. Your employees are not your friends. Do not be overly generous. Be fair; be aware of the labor laws, and be careful with benefits and bonuses. Our practice of giving an extra $100 at Christmas over the years became an extra week of pay, and then an extra two weeks of pay. I thought the employees understood this was optional on our part. When 2008 came and we were unable to provide that extra paycheck, it destroyed the morale of my two long term employees. My practice of giving extra and helping my employees on a personal level came back to bite me.
6. Recognize that there is a lot of competition in the legal nurse consulting field. What can you do to set yourself apart? What is your competitive advantage? How can you stand out in a crowded field? Determine your strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan for building on your strengths and compensating for your weaknesses. I used to think the answer was in correcting your weaknesses. I recall my husband’s boss, who said with a straight face that he was going to tackle one weakness a year and within 20 years, he would be perfect. This former CEO narrowly escaped being imprisoned for mail fraud. Could dishonesty have been one of his weaknesses?
Patricia Iyer MSN RN LNCC founded Med League Support Services, Inc. in 1987 and successfully sold it in 2015. She teaches LNCs how to write compelling copy in her webinar, Cash Copy: How to Supercharge Your Marketing Materials. Watch the replay. Pat also provides individual consulting for LNCs through LNCAcademyinc.com. Check out how YOU can benefit from Pat’s deep expertise.
Thanks Pat for this information! I wish I would have had it when I started back in 2007. 🙂
Scott Rajnic RN, CCRN, CLNC