It’s been 4.5 months since I started my own law firm and one of my favorite start-up tasks was researching which service providers I should use. Here’s the list of service providers I ended up with: : Entrepreneur

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I tend to get obsessive researching this type of thing, so, I thought sharing my tech/service provider list would be helpful to some of you out there. WARNING: this is a very long post.As a new business, a website is a must IMO. I was a marketing major in undergrad, and I learned that website speed is crucial along with remembering the main purpose for your website (capturing leads). For hosting, I use a managed VPS service provider called Cloudways. A VPS server is much more responsive than the traditional shared hosting (think GoDaddy, Bluehost, etc.) because it’s a sectioned off piece of the server that you get 100% of the resources (memory and processor). However, a VPS server is more complicated because you need to keep the hosting software and hardware in harmony and updated. You usually need to know some code commands. HOWEVER, the reason why Cloudways is great is because they manage the VPS server for you. Which means, you really don’t need to know anything about the server. Cloudways is $10 per month and is a steal of a deal. They also provide free SSL certificates which is absolutely required in today’s digital age.Once you’ve got your hosting figured out, you then have your host install WordPress. WordPress is the bones to your website, and it is the most popular content management system in the world. It’s free and has a huge community of developers that make wonderful enhancements to WordPress. In my opinion, WordPress is the only option (some of the reasons include SEO, speed, flexibility, support community, ease of use, etc.)Now that you’ve got the bones of your website, you need to make it look pretty. WordPress has many website theme options. Some are free and some cost money. I use a premium theme called Astra. It’s fast, lightweight, SEO friendly, ADA compliant, and it has many pre-built websites that you can use. I’ve used Astra to build my personal injury website, which you can see here. Before I installed tracking code (Facebook, Google, LiveChat, CallRaill, etc.) it was loading at pre-1 second times. It now takes 1.5 seconds to fully load, but, visual things will load quicker than the full 1.5.I also use a page builder add-on for my WordPress site development. A page builder makes it easier to arrange visual website elements and make changes to your website. It essentially turns it into drag and drop and it cuts out the need for a web developer to edit/tweak your website. I use elementor, which is built to work extremely nicely with the Astra theme.Eventually, every new business can use a nice-looking logo. I researched many logo designers that did great work and at a good price. I tend to like clean, minimalistic logos. I found a Macedonian designer that I liked on Fivver. I paid $267.75 and got two design concepts that were very good. You can view my finalized logo here.I have run Google Ads to landing pages that I created with Elementor on my website. Conversions dramatically improved when I installed live chat on my website. There’s a little pop-up that asks visitors if they were injured in an accident. I researched and used multiple live chat providers, but my favorite is LiveChat. It costs me $45 a month and it just converts so well.In order to get my virtual phone number and my virtual fax number, I went with Twilio. This is a service provider that I’m crazy about. They are a little overwhelming because they provide so many services, but they are worth it. They check all numbers to make sure that they are “clean” (that they haven’t been used for spam) before they sell them to you. I played a little game that they offer, and they gave me $50.00 in credits. In 4.5 months, my $50 still hasn’t run out and I purchased 2 digital lines and I get charged for every text, fax, and every minute on my phone.Once I had a phone line, I knew I needed 24/7 call answering. Boy did I hit a grand slam with my provider. After intense research, I found AnswerFirst. I dare anyone to find a better deal than these guys. I get charged $40 flat fee and then $1.15 per minute. They answer on the first or second ring and follow my script: “Welcome to (Law Firm), are you calling for a free consultation?” If they are, these guys take down their info, text and e-mail it to me, and forward the phone call to my desk phone. They do the same if it’s a lawyer or current client. Anyone else, they take down their info and send it to me, but they don’t transfer the call. I believe the workers are stay-at-home employees out of Florida. If you’re OK with a different voice every time, this company is such a high value add.At a previous job, I learned that texting customers is a huge win. I often get texts instead of e-mails / calls from my clients. Since I didn’t want to hand out my personal cell, I connected Textable with my virtual phone number. Honestly, it was a little bit of a hassle and I’m not crazy about this solution. However, it’s free and it works OK. I probably need to find a better solution here. If you want to go this route, I can help you, but, be prepared with some patience.Since some insurance companies and doctor offices operate in the olden days, so I needed to have reliable fax. I love going with internet-based fax, it is so convenient. I use RedFax and highly recommend them. There is a $4.99 option that gets you 600 pages of faxes per month. I connected my Twilio fax number with this company and it took maybe 4 days. I have never missed a fax, to my knowledge, and it sends everything in PDF form to my e-mail. I just upload PDFs and it faxes them for me. I can fax multiple things at the same time. It’s just beautiful. Also, they have a HIPAA compliant option.Because I am still in lean start-up mode, I use a very low-cost Customer Relation Management (CRM) software. I wanted something that was simple to use, allowed me to enter notes about contacts, track leads in various stages, connect with my calendar and e-mail, was mobile friendly, and had a nice interface. Honestly, I had a hard time finding a CRM that I liked. I tried too so many and wasted a lot of time. In the end, I found LACRM. This one checks all my boxes. It is $10.00 per month and I love it. HOWEVER, this is not a good CRM for people that want to automate tasks / drafting / e-mails / texting. One day I think I will upgrade to an injury specific CRM system that will automate things for me. But for now, this one just works so well for me.My least favorite start-up task was setting up my accounting system. This stage really sucks (especially setting up trust accounting). After poking around at various options, I kept reading that accountants strongly prefer Quickbooks. It is so widely used that I don’t think there is another option IF you plan on having an accountant look over your books. I use Quick Books Online and it costs me about $25 a month. I actually like it now that it’s all setup and configured. But I still can’t wait until I can outsource bookkeeping.As far as setting up e-mail with my domain name, I turned to Office 365. The process took me awhile to figure out, but I ended up succeeding so now I don’t have to use Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, etc. Another big benefit of using Office 365 is that I get Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc. as well as their cloud hosting. I save all my documents / client files to the cloud. My office is basically paperless, which is so convenient. I researched Microsoft’s up-time, security, HIPAA compliance, and back-up procedures. I was very satisfied, and I feel comfortable relying on them. I know some folks use Gmail for this type of thing, but I believe having Word is important. I pay $16.50 a month for all the things they provide me.For my business Internet, I went with Comcast and it was cheaper with a landline. I use that number as my private desk phone number. I wasn’t planning on this, but, I’m glad it worked out this way. This required me to find a desk phone that I liked along with a wireless headset. I wanted one with an answering machine and the ability to conference call. I honestly don’t think there are great options for landlines anymore. It seems like the best phone systems are for VOIP. Anyways, I ended up with this phone and this wireless headset. Both have worked just fine for me and they were cheap.Well, that’s it for now. I hope this was helpful to someone out there. I made a goal to hit 100 positive Google reviews by the end of March for my new law firm, so, shoot me a message if you’d feel comfortable pounding 5 stars. Thanks, and let me know if you have questions about any of this.

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