Becoming a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant is an exciting process, but it can also be daunting, so I’ve asked the CLNC® Pros to share the first steps you should take when starting your CLNC business.
- Make completing the CLNC Certification Program a high priority. Dorene Goldstein, RNC, BSN, CLNC advises, “With working at the hospital, taking care of our families and other commitments, spending time reviewing the Certification Program can fall to the bottom of your To-Do list. Set a completion date for finishing the modules. Once you set a date, create a realistic plan of what you want to accomplish each week. Allow time for adjustments because life happens and things change. Create a quiet learning environment to study. Having a designated study place just makes it real and keeps you focused. Listen to the modules and take notes as you go. This will help you retain the material. Dive in and enjoy. While there may be a lot of content, the Certification Program is designed in a specific comprehensive order, which allows you to build your vocabulary and knowledge. Take a deep breath, make a cup of tea and enjoy the ride!”
- Learn from the CLNC Pros. Jorie Akins, RN, BSN, TNCC, ECRN, CLNC shares, “Each CLNC consultant has their own journey and unique story. Collect their advice and knowledge from their stories to build a path to your own CLNC success.”
- Map out the bigger picture of what you want to accomplish. Include both short-term and long term goals. Focus on a short-term goal every day. It’s imperative that you engage your CLNC business daily for taking action to become a lifestyle. Suzanne Arragg, RN, BSN, CDONA/LTC, CLNC suggests, “At first, you’ll want to do everything all at once. This is impossible, so get centered. Practice deep breathing. Envision what you want your CLNC business to look like. What are your goals? Once your goals are defined, move forward and take action on each and every one.”
- Go back and study the CLNC Certification Program. The modules are a wealth of information. Jorie Akins states, “I listened to the modules on the way to work a 12-hour shift at the hospital; I could do this with little to no effort.”
- Believe that you can and will be successful. Life events and family challenges will occur. Jorie Akins cautions, “Friends, loved ones and co-workers might challenge whether this career path is really a good choice for you. If you believe becoming a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant is for you, put the naysayers aside and stay true to your path.”
- Set up your home office. Keep it simple. Start with the basics such as a desk, computer, scanner, file drawer and basic office supplies. Camille Joyner, RN, BSN, CCM, CLNC recommends, “Keep purchases realistic. Every office supply store has beautiful leather folders and leather office chairs. You’ll sleep more soundly at night and do a much better job on your CLNC business by purchasing only what is necessary to start. The fun shopping will come as soon as you are successful.”
- Develop a business relationship with a CPA and a business attorney. They will ensure you conduct yourself professionally. For example, Dale Barnes, RN, MSN, PHN, CLNC expresses, “You will want an attorney or CPA to help you decide if an LLC or a sole proprietorship is best for you. They can also guide you in setting up an LLC or filing a DBA and obtaining a tax identification number.”
- Develop your business plan and 90-day marketing plan. Develop the strategies, action steps and target dates essential for obtaining your first client. Dale Barnes confesses, “I learned the hard way that I should have developed my business plan much sooner.”Order your CLNC Marketing Materials. Obtain business cards, brochures, letterhead and envelopes.
Michelle Neal, RN, BSN, CLNC advises, “Consider different strategies for marketing which include networking on social media, mail-call, exhibiting and visiting local attorney offices. Research different law firms (big and small) and different types of attorneys (personal injury, medical malpractice, products liability, etc.). Create your unique selling position (USP) for each type of attorney. Keep a spreadsheet of who you’ve marketed to. Be persistent in following up with each attorney in a timely manner.”
Marcia Bell, RN, BSN, CAPA, CLNC advises to decide on a budget for marketing. She adds, “How much will it cost to purchase brochures from the CLNC Marketing Center? Do you want to give away pens or other promotional items to attorney-prospects and clients? It’s important to have at least one professional outfit to wear to interviews.”
At first engage in action steps that come easily. Add the more challenging tasks as you progress. Jorie Akins affirms, “Some of the first steps I took included reading Vickie Milazzo’s books, ordering business cards, researching potential attorney-clients and studying the CLNC Certification Program again. I found accomplishing these manageable tasks gave me the confidence to tackle bigger action steps such as creating a website, setting up my LLC and keeping track of expenses for tax purposes.”
Robert Malaer, RN, MSN, PMHN, SANE, CNLCP, CALM, CLNC also recommends, “Locate all law firms within a four-hour radius and review their websites for names of attorneys and paralegals. Put together promotional packages for all attorneys and paralegals at the law firms you select. Start visiting the law firms and continue to follow-up.”
Network with anyone who comes within three feet of you. Everyone knows an attorney.
Finally, Camille Joyner reminds us to update our business and marketing plan often.
- Set up your business processes. Decide on a business name. Open a business banking account. Track your business finances for tax purposes. Obtain a business email and DropBox account. Prepare a voicemail that announces your name and call-back instructions. Keep it professional. Set up a professional Facebook and LinkedIn account. Update and give a facelift to your resume. Draft an introductory letter to send to attorney-prospects. Purchase a power-suit for interviews. Use the CLNC Certification Program templates to set up templates for your invoices and reports.
- Develop a simple website. Marcia Bell encourages, “There are numerous places where you can set up a website for free. It’s as simple as adding your USP and qualifications. It’s also easy to add links such as Vickie Milazzo Institute’s website and the National Alliance of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants (NACLNC®) logo on your website.”
- Create a sample report to show attorneys. Marcia Bell describes, “I started with a couple of samples in the beginning, then continued to add more. I now have samples for medical malpractice, personal injury, and criminal cases, just to name a few.” Kaylin Chase, RN, BSN, CNLCP, CLNC developed her first sample report from a case study in the CLNC Certification Program. She adds, “As I have consulted on new and interesting cases I now redact personal information and use those cases as sample reports.”
- Don’t get frustrated if success doesn’t happen overnight. Jorie Akins describes, “There are many amazing Certified Legal Nurse Consultants who are successful out of the gate and that is certainly inspiring, but there are others who succeed more slowly. The pace of your success doesn’t matter. What should matter is that giving up is not an option for you.”
- Don’t expect to be perfect. Kaylin Chase stresses, “The attorneys I work with are happy to know that I can find answers to their questions. I aimed to provide the best work product possible from the beginning, but my best when I started was nowhere close to my best now. However, it was darn good and earned me a lot of repeat business. When I need assistance, I use the NACLNC Directory to find qualified Certified Legal Nurse Consultants to subcontract with.”
- Thank people along the way. Camille Joyner encourages, “Say thanks for even the tiniest good deed. The element of a pleasant surprise via a simple thank you can pay big, unexpected dividends. More times than not, the good will generated is worth the effort.”
These 14 action steps are the first steps you should take. Thanks to Jorie Akins, RN, BSN, TNCC, ECRN, CLNC, Suzanne Arragg, RN, BSN, CDONA/LTC, CLNC, Dale Barnes, RN, MSN, PHN, CLNC, Marcia Bell, RN, BSN, CAPA, CLNC, Kaylin Chase, RN, BSN, CNLCP, CLNC, Dorene Goldstein, RNC, BSN, CLNC, Camille Joyner, RN, BSN, CCM, CLNC, Robert Malaer, RN, MSN, PMHN, SANE, CNLCP, CALM, CLNC and Michelle Neal, RN, BSN, CLNC for helping new Certified Legal Nurse Consultants get started.
Michelle Neal encourages, “While you’re in the process of marketing and awaiting your first case, read sample case reports from Vickie Milazzo Institute (VMI), prepare sample case reports for attorney-prospects, study interview questions from VMI, review how to screen cases and write reports from the CLNC Certification Program. Get prepared for your first case. Stay active in the legal nurse consulting world. Do something for your CLNC business every day. Most importantly, don’t make excuses; excuses won’t make success.”
Be safe and stay healthy,
Vickie L. Milazzo, RN, MSN, JD
P.S. Comment and share the action steps you took when you started your legal nurse consulting business.