starting a business, how to start a business, be a better lawyer podcast, be a better lawyer, starting a business, Dina Cataldo

#256: Starting a Business

Thinking about starting a business?

Maybe you want to start your own law practice.

Or maybe you want to start a business completely unrelated to the legal profession.

Before you get started, listen in to this week's episode of Be a Better Lawyer Podcast to find out what you need to know.

I'm sharing what I learned starting a new business on top of my law practice and going out on my own.

If you listen to this episode and want help building you law practice or starting a non-law-related business, I can help you build the capacity to do it without over-working.

Book a Strategy Session with me, and we'll talk about what it will look like to work together.

Click here to book a Strategy Session.


Are you a Be a Better Lawyer Podcast ride-or-die?

Thanks for listening, and I'll talk to you next week.

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Starting a Business

Hello. Hello, how are you today? So I am recording this out in a park today because I felt like it <laugh> and I have some ideas swirling around in my head and I wanted to share them with you. And this episode is specifically for lawyers who wanna start their own business, whether it's law related or not. But even if you are not interested in going out on your own, this episode is gonna give you some tremendous insights into yourself and how you are showing up wherever you work. I wanted to record this podcast because I do get lawyers who come to my strategy sessions who want to start their own business, who wanna leave the law. And because I have left the law, it may seem to you that it is just something that you do. You just jump ship and you just go for it.

And that is not at all what I did. And I wanna be really honest and vulnerable with you in this episode because starting your own business isn't just let's get out of the law, which is initially why I did it. But it wasn't the reason when I actually left, that was not the reason I left the law. Like when I first came up with the idea of leaving the law, it was because I just wanted out. It was the only way I thought I could get out. And as I started learning about starting my own business, I realized there was a lot more to it than just getting out. I needed to prepare myself in a way that I had never prepared myself before because I had no clue how to start a business. Even though my dad had a business growing up, I didn't know the inner workings of it.

And the business that I wanted to create was gonna be something totally different. It was gonna start online because I was working full-time. I needed to create financial security for myself. I needed to create mental and emotional security for myself so that I could leave. But I didn't know any of that when I first came up with the idea to leave the law. And the first thing that I want share with you is that I had the idea, and you might have this too, that everything was gonna be better there than it was here. That as soon as I left the law, I was gonna feel better, that I wasn't gonna have to work as many hours, that I would enjoy myself more, that I wasn't gonna feel so stressed out or overwhelmed. And that is a hundred percent not the case because wherever you decide to go, you take your brain with you. The way you process the world now

Is the way you will continue to process the world. Whether you are working in a firm, whether you're working in a government office like I was working for the DA's office, or whether you start your own business that's not legal related. Doesn't matter if you are overworking now, you will overwork in your business. If you are stressing out now, you will stress out in your business. If you're snapping at your partner now, you're gonna snap at your partner when you have a business. It's not because the business is wrong, it's not because you are, you pick the wrong business and that you just, you know, happen to, to go about it by picking it wrong, right? We always think it's something external to us that's the problem. That's just the way our brain works. It's because you have the same brain. And this was what I experienced when I went out on my own.

Well, I didn't even go out on my own. I was, I was actually starting my business a different business, and I saw the same work patterns. I was working just as hard, if not harder, because I had this urgency to make it right, to get it right so that I could leave, right? Because I thought it was gonna be better there than it was in my office. And as I was starting to learn about entrepreneurship, and I was listening to podcasts, you know, one of my favorite one was Amy Porterfield. And at the time she was also a workhorse, right? When I, and so I was drawn to her because she was, you know, you know, a go-getter and she was, you know, making lots of money and she seemed really happy. What I didn't see was the back end of her business. And as I started getting more into her world, I saw like she was creating like a lot of stress for herself.

And she was starting to get into mindset to relieve, you know, some of those issues because she recognized that she was having some issues that were going on in her brain that were creating a lot of overwork for herself. And I learned really from her, I was seeing kind of a mirror of myself and what I was doing in my business that were creating a lot of stress for myself. And if you think that going out on your own is going to be just wine and roses, that was Frankie. If you could hear his ears flapping, um, <laugh>, I want you to know that you are going to have the same issues if you start your business. You're going to be a workhorse there too. And if you are drawn to this podcast, chances

Are you do overwork because that was my energy for a really long time. And in fact, I, I love working in my business and you probably, you know, in whatever capacity you're in, so some extent, love working for whatever reason it could be because you get a sense of validation. It could be because you get a sense of accomplishment. It could be because you really wanna help people. It could be because you're motivated by the money. I just want you to see that your brain is gonna be the same brain and you're gonna take those motivations into whatever endeavor you choose. This is what I needed to learn, that I had patterns that I had created over the years. They were habits and how I worked and how I thought and how I showed up for people. And those habits were not habits that were helping me in my law practice.

And they definitely weren't gonna help me in my new business. So if you're considering starting a business, step one is starting to recognize your habits and starting to change them. And that changed for me when I got a coach switch. So when I got a coach, the first thing I needed to do was get my brain in order. So in other words, I needed to calm the overwhelm. I needed to set time aside to think. And before I did that, I had zero time to think it was all action, action, action. Go, go, go. But doing that prevented me from thinking strategically about what I wanted, what I wanted to create for myself, what I intentionally wanted my motivation to be. Because I definitely didn't want to create a business where I was seeking validation from the people that I worked for, right? So we're gonna have clients, you're gonna be working for somebody, you know, whether they're buying a product from you, whether or not you are, you know, like me coaching them.

You are going to have people that you were working for and you're going to, if you don't clean it up now, seek validation from them if that's where your driver is, where you want to please people. And if you show up with that driver, you are not gonna create boundaries for yourself. So if you don't have boundaries in your current law practice, you're not gonna create boundaries in any new endeavor that you have. Um, and for me, I needed to calm that overwhelm so <laugh>, I could just like think cuz I couldn't think I had this urge in my body. It's almost like I needed to jump outta my body. And so what that required of me was to think about how I wanted to be in the world, not just in my business, but how I wanted to be in my current law practice because I needed to change my brain.

And that started with me understanding my brain and how it works. So when I work with my clients, we work on showing them their thoughts because I was swimming in my thoughts. I couldn't see them. I was just feeling urgent. Everything was urgent. I needed to move fast, I needed to just like work, I needed to do it now. Everything was like incredibly important and I needed to do it all right. Now, maybe that's how you feel when you go into your office and you look at your files and you're like, it all has to be done right now. And that's how I felt. So if that's a pattern that you have with your brain now and you wanna start a business, that pattern is gonna continue with you. So you're gonna wanna do marketing now, you're gonna wanna, you know, do, um, your client services.

Now you're gonna think you need to do all of the things. And when I got a coach, I realized, oh, wait a minute, this is a habit that I've gotten into that has not served me as a lawyer. So I need to change how I think. And when I changed how I thought and I changed how I decided to be in the world, and that that helped me not only constrain my actions within my business so that I was taking the most important actions and I wasn't killing myself after work, working on my business, I wasn't killing myself on weekends and I didn't think I needed to work all the time. That helped me in my law practice because then I was able to focus. I could say, okay, well I can prioritize this, this isn't a problem. But I needed to focus on that. I needed to change the way I was being in the world. And that all starts with how we think because how we think is going to change how we behave in the world.

So once I could clean that up in my brain, not only did I enjoy my law practice better, but I enjoyed my business better because I was not stressing myself out. I could manage my brain when it did have overwhelm. I was like, okay, I feel overwhelmed right now. How do I, what's going on in my brain? And I could change my behavior when I understood why I was behaving like I did. And when you start doing that, you're gonna see massive improvements. Like, I didn't need to leave my job. Like by the time I actually left my job, I was enjoying it. I was like, I felt so confident, I felt so able, I was able to validate myself. I wasn't seeking approval from people. I didn't feel all of the feelings

That I, that I had had over the years. Like I cleaned all of that up and I got to start my business feeling really good about myself. I'm not saying that there weren't fears, right? Because you're, you're starting out and you have some fears because you haven't done it before. That's incredibly normal. But I was able to calm those fears because I had the mental tools to do it and it was not a rash decision on my part. Like I really knew I needed to feel financially secure and I needed to think about the numbers before I left. So when I could calm my brain down and I could calm the overwhelm and I could get organized at the office, it allowed me to create space to do that. And it allowed me to create space to take care of myself. That was another key factor in me calming the overwhelm is putting myself first and not saying yes to everything.

Um, so I had this opportunity, um, right before I left the office and it was before I had, um, told them that I was leaving and this, uh, supervisor of a unit was telling me like, you know, you're very experienced. I know that you've got, you know, a lot of trials under your belt and you're, you know, specifically great for this particular unit because da da, and I was so flattered and I felt this like urge to join the unit. Like it was just, you could feel it in in my body. Like it was just like, oh my God, this would be, this is like such a validation of all the work that I've done. These are like the thoughts that I was having, but I didn't notice them in the, in the moment. All I knew noticed was that I felt like this urgent desire to please.

And I had tried to put this person off for a little while, but this person kind of like cornered me in court. <laugh> was telling me all these things. And of course my, my ego is super flattered and I'm feeling all these things like, wow, this would be a great opportunity for you. I'm having all these thoughts, right? And so I, I then sat with it and I asked myself like, why am I feeling this way? And then I could see my thoughts. I could see, look, this is the only reason that I'm even considering this is because it's like putting sav on my ego. It, it feels really good to be wanted, right? But is this what I want? What is it that I want? And I knew that I wanted to start a business and it wasn't because I needed anything from the business. What I wanted was to help people at that point, which is such an interesting shift over the years because it all started with me having this urgent desire to leave the office and wanting money to be able to fund that ability

To leave. And then it became to, wow, you know, I'm actually really good at coaching <laugh> and like I really enjoy it and I love working with these people and I'm only doing it part-time right now. Like it's, it's, you know, a few hours in the afternoon or a couple hours in the morning and maybe some time on the weekend. And that's, I want more of this. Like, this is fun and I'm, and I'm really enjoying seeing people make changes in their lives. And I love the marketing of it. Like I was learning marketing. Like there's a lot of thought that went into starting a business. How did I show up for my marketing? Was I willing to be visible? Was I uncomfortable being visible? Yes. Like I've talked about this on the podcast, it was incredibly difficult for me to even get on video and now it's something I do almost daily.

There were mindset things that I needed to work on with myself before I left so I could create a successful business and I had to have faith in myself and that needed to be developed over time. So these are some of the things that I needed to learn as a business owner even before I left the law. I can't even imagine if I just like decided in a short amount of time, like, okay, I'm just gonna leave. Like I could have, but I would've suffered so much because I would've still been operating with the same brain, feeling overwhelmed. Like I wasn't good enough that I didn't know what I was doing. I mean, those are all thoughts that went through my head like on a daily basis when I was, you know, just starting. And when you do that, you can't make money. Like you can't make money in a business if you're constantly doubting yourself and you don't have the ability to like dig yourself out because it's not that the doubts won't come, it's that you need the tools to get out of the self-doubt.

And that was what I was learning before I left the legal profession. And what I see with my clients, even when, like when they own their own business, I see these things show up for them. Like the self-doubt, the people pleasing, um, the lack of systems, right? Like if you're, you're overwhelmed, there's also systems. But then of course if you're overwhelmed, you don't have time to create systems. And so it just compacts upon itself. There's a compounding effect of the junk that's <laugh> happening in your business if you don't address it. Just like there's a compounding effect of the amazingness that will happen in your life when you start changing the way you think. And that's what I work with my clients on. When I have clients who come to me who are stressing out about the files that are in their office. Like that is the biggest hindrance to growing their businesses.

And so, so we work on that first. We work on them understanding what's really going on, not only in their brain, but what's really going on in their practice. Cause it makes it really difficult to see clearly when your brain is basically paralyzed, like paralyzed with maybe fear, overwhelm, anxiety. And I operated with all of those and what happened was is I was overworking. So if you're feeling any of those feelings, you're probably overworking too. And you're not making time for yourself and you are skipping the gym so you can work more and you might be snapping at your partner because emotionally you haven't created yet the safety that you need to believe in yourself to take action in a calm, calculated way around making a shift, creating your business. And that's what mindset coaching does, is it helps you with all of that. It cleans all of it up.

So even if you do notice it, you can start cleaning it up on your own before it has a major impact in your business or in your law practice. I was talking to a client just yesterday and she was telling me, we worked together about 10 weeks, right? 10 weeks, 11 weeks now. And she told me, she's like, I notice such a huge difference just walking through my house. Like I'm no longer overwhelmed by all the things that my brain used to tell me needed to get done. And when I drive to the office on Mondays, I, I'm not dreading my work week. Like it, I actually felt okay, like it was all gonna be okay. Like I could handle this. And that was something that, you know, you can't, you can't put a price on feeling good about going to the office, you know, like feeling like, yeah, I got this, or, you know, being able to take a day off and tell yourself it's okay to take a day off.

That was something I needed to learn even when I was working, um, you know, as a lawyer and I was coaching, I would work seven days a week. Like I would work in the morning, I'd work during the day at the office, and then I'd come home and then I'd work some more. And then Saturday I needed to work of course. And then of course Sunday I needed to work. And I'm like, my coach was like, wait a minute, like, what's happening here, <laugh>? And I said, oh, well I have to. And she said, no, we need, we need to give Dina some time off. And so I thought I was taking care of myself, I was going to yoga, I was like, you know, doing, doing some of the things, but I wasn't turning my brain off from work ever. And I needed to give myself that time off

Because I need to rejuvenate. And all of us do. We all need to rejuvenate. No matter how much we love our work, no matter how much we want or desire, you know, hitting a goal, we've gotta give ourself that time to refresh. Our brain was not meant to work all the time. I see this with lawyers who are trying to hit, you know, like 12 hour billables every day. And they come to me and they think I need to work harder. Like, clearly I'm overwhelmed because I'm not working harder. <laugh>, I'm like, no, <laugh>. That's the opposite of the truth. The reason you're struggling. Well, a we could get into a whole other conversation for another podcast about how the legal profession is run, but we've really gotta look at how are you taking care of the asset? Because in a business, you are the asset in a legal profession, right?

If you are, if you're the lawyer in a firm, you are the asset. But law firms do not treat you like you are an asset. So it's up to you to take responsibility to treat yourself as the asset. You are the asset. So imagine you are, you know, a rockstar. Let's, I love that idea. Let's just all call each other rock stars. I just, I love the idea of being a rockstar. So you're a rockstar, you're Tina Turner, you're whomever, your idol is <laugh> and you are the asset. Your voice is the asset. Your legs are the asset. You're Tina Turner <laugh>, you're, you are the asset. People need to take care of you because you are the person who is making the money in the business. So in a business, if you're starting it on your own, you've gotta treat yourself like the asset.

So what does that look like? It means feeding yourself the foods <laugh> that are good for you, that are gonna energize you. This is something I'm working on. I'm trying to cut out bread and sugar to a certain extent, um, because they do, they they do wear on me. I notice the difference. You've gotta work out. When you don't work out, you feel physically drained, you feel physically weak, you've got to give yourself plenty of rest. That means seven, eight hours a night. You've gotta find ways if you have trouble sleeping to start observing your world and understanding what's creating that. Like what thoughts are running through your head? What habits do you have right now that aren't serving you? You've gotta take care of yourself and make sure that you're not overworking yourself. And those are all things that we work on in coaching because you are the asset, you are the person who is driving the business. You are the person who is creating the service to other people. And if you don't take care of yourself, you will

Not be, be able to thrive in your business. And you're gonna think that it's because you shouldn't have started a business. Yeah, it couldn't be further from the truth. I think that starting a business is the key to our greatest evolution. I have evolved more over the last few years by starting my own business than I ever could have imagined. I had no idea what was possible for me. And I'm really excited to see what happens next. Doesn't mean all the negative emotion goes away, it doesn't mean I don't have self doubt or I don't, you know, have days where I pity myself or you know, I have like those days where I'm like, what's wrong with me? And all it means is that I understand that's not the whole journey. That that's a day that maybe it's a week. And then I can ask myself, where am I not taking care of myself because I am the asset and am I treating myself like the asset?

Or am I treating myself like a worker bee? I don't wanna treat myself like a worker bee. I wanna be the asset who can help more people that can help the world. And I hope that maybe some of what I've said today has shifted how you think about yourself, shifted how you think about your business or starting a new business. And I wanna invite you, if you are doing any of the above anything that we've talked about that you book a strategy session with me. It really is the, it really does give you some insights into what's going on with yourself. Like this podcast, I hope give you some insights and then I can tell you what the next steps could be for you. And if you wanna take those next steps, you can work with me. So book a call with me at and if this was a helpful episode for you or you think somebody could benefit from it, I really wanna ask you to share it with somebody and let me know on Instagram at Dina.Cataldo, I would love to do more episodes like this if this is something that really interests you.

If this is a topic that you know, you have some things going on around, I'd love to hear that. And you can DM the dina dot cataldo. I'll write my friends. I hope you have a fabulous day and I will talk to you next week. Bye.