Simply Lawyers: Josh Whiten
The co-founder of the online legal sector network outlines the rollercoaster ride of starting a website in a rapidly shifting field
Name: Josh Whiten
Company: Simply Lawyers
Staff numbers: 4
Date launched: 27/01/2013
Tell us what your business does:
Simply Lawyers is a new form of marketing collective for the legal sector. Consumers can find a solicitor online and law firms can access a cost effective form of professional marketing which is compliant with the new laws that regulate legal marketing.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
The coming together of the founders from the web development, digital marketing and legal sectors was prompted by the imminent law changes in April 2013, following the recent review of the legal sector by Lord Justice Jackson. This will mean law firms can no longer pay referral fees to intermediaries in order to receive leads for personal injury claims. Therefore Simply Lawyers was created to provide law firms with a marketing collective instead.
How did you know there was a market for it?
One of the founders had already been promoting their own legal firm for some time and so had seen first-hand the challenges of legal marketing especially in highly competitive sectors like personal injury claims.
What were you doing before starting up?
We were all running our own separate businesses in web development, online marketing and the legal sector. We have used this combined experience to help form the Simply Lawyers concept and brand.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
All of us had already been running our own businesses for several years before founding the new venture, but we also all started our careers working for larger organisations.
How did you raise the money?
The business has been self-funded initially by us.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
The main challenge has been creating and explaining a completely new concept within an industry that is used to different methods, in a fast moving market environment where details of the imminent regulations have been released piecemeal. Also, demonstrating the benefits of a new business before it is fully launched and receiving funding from its members, a classic ‘catch 22’ situation.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
Simply Lawyers is operated as a marketing collective; individual law firms each pay a monthly membership fee and in return the collective carries out consumer marketing on their behalf, with an ultimate goal of generating and distributing new business opportunities to the members.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Initially the coming together of the three founders through a combination of fate, accident and word of mouth and then initial response from the market.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Test your concept well, don’t be afraid to take on critical feedback, change or even drop your original plans. However once you’ve set your goals and finalised your offering then stick to your guns, be determined and keep the faith. If you have enough drive and commitment you can make anything happen.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Running a successful operation which has a large number of satisfied law firms as clients and which is genuinely helping large numbers of consumers to access the right legal advice online.