Mid-2018 Update on JPG Legal’s Growth
It’s been about ten months since I last updated you on JPG Legal’s financials. To my surprise, occasionally somebody will hire me and tell me they appreciated the transparency about my firm on the blog. So I’ll keep making posts updating people on JPG Legal’s progress as a law firm and a business. Here’s the latest. All numbers in this post are rounded to the nearest $500.
I ended up finishing 2017 with $227,000 in gross revenue. This is up from a gross revenue of $13,000 in 2016, meaning an annual growth in revenue of 1625% from 2016 to 2017. This is because, as my spreadsheet below hints at, I actually started promoting my solo practice in April 2017. Once I started doing this, the results were positive enough that I immediately made preparations to transition out of my day job as General Counsel of Teamsters Local 922, securing my own Washington, DC office space on July 1, 2017.
Some notes about 2017:
- I did not experience consistent monthly growth in 2017. I actually had a dip after a strong showing of $35,500 for July, before peaking at $41,000 in October, finishing the year with an alarmingly poor performance of $19,500 in December 2017.
2018 saw my move to the Lower East Side of Manhattan — where my great grandfather Max Greenberg once ran a grocery store — at the end of January. My revenue so far this year, from January to May, has been $272,500. Monthly revenue growth has been surprisingly consistent, peaking so far at $74,000 in revenue for May.
I attribute this growth in part to revisions I made to my filing packages. In particular, I added a third, “premium” filing package. This package turned out to be popular, as clients appreciate having the option to cover any potential legal briefs that may need to be drafted in response to substantive office actions at a reasonable, upfront cost. It’s become such an important part of my law practice model that it’s hard to imagine that I only had two packages for so long.
I also made some improvements to my Google ad campaigns, which I continue to hone all the time. And of course, many of my previous clients who have been happy with my work hire me for new trademarks and recommend me to their colleagues. I also periodically poke my head into Facebook groups with names like “Amazon Private Label Ninjas!!!” and “ELITE MASTERS OF AMAZON”.
Some more revenue stats:
- 24% growth from April 2018 to May 2018.
- Annualized revenue based on first five months: $653,494
- Projected annual revenue if revenue stays at May level: $789,470
- Projected annual revenue if average monthly growth from first five months stays the same: $1,285,892
Does Gross Revenue Mean Much?
Gross revenue is a vanity metric if touted without context. It’s useful for showing how much money people are spending on you, which indicates your share of your industry and of the general economy. Pursuit of revenue growth at any cost is common among Silicon Valley-style tech startups, and seems to lead to the collapse of many businesses that may otherwise have thrived.
Revenue isn’t a business’s main purpose, and as a metric it does not differentiate between money that actually goes into paying for a business’s operating costs or growth, and money that passes straight through to suppliers or government filing fees. If my area of law did not require the frequent filing of government documents, my revenue numbers would be drastically lower. Every month, about 40% of my revenue goes directly to government filing fees.
Advertising costs eat up about 18% of my revenue. Payment processing fees, through Stripe and PayPal, cost about 3% of my revenue. I also refund between $1000 and $4000 to my clients per month — sometimes my legal opinion on a trademark is negative and the client would rather get a partial refund than use a different brand name, and sometimes my clients change their plans and need a full refund before any work is performed. Finally, my current office space costs $3200 a month plus utilities, but it’s a street-level retail space in Lower Manhattan, and my girlfriend and I sell various goods and host creative workshops here, so I count it as $1600 a month in my books.
These numbers in green are not quite my Earnings-Before-Taxes (EBT), as they do not include a lot of the spending I’m doing this year to expand the business, including hiring a full-time associate attorney and buying computer equipment. But they represent what my personal income would be if I were not choosing to reinvest most of my surplus into growing the firm. 2016 Jeremy would be flabbergasted at what JPG Legal has become in 2018.
The Next Steps
Once I hire and train an associate attorney this summer to take over a lot of the day-to-day trademark work for me, I’ll be able to dedicate some time to the features I want to add to JPG Legal:
- Powerful, web-based trademark search engine. I have a modest software programming background, and I’m planning to download the entire USPTO trademark database onto my own server and create an interface on my website that will help people perform their own preliminary trademark searches. It will also help my clients keep track of their trademark applications, and send them emails with updates. Eventually I want to design a powerful trademark search platform that automatically generates reports that show all potentially relevant results for a proposed brand name, including spelling variations and translations. I will release this for free online to all, and offer an enterprise version that other attorneys can pay a reasonable fee to use, maybe $100 per month for unlimited searches.
- Legal document library. I want to offer an online library of various contract templates and legal resources. I’m thinking I’ll charge a small fee, maybe $50 or $100 for lifetime membership, but I’m not sure yet.
- Other legal services. I do eventually want to expand JPG Legal’s offerings to include other legal services, including business entity formation, copyright, patent, contract drafting, and eventually even unrelated areas of law like wills and estates.
For now, though, I have to focus on hiring and training an associate attorney while keeping up with my current workload, and running the retail store I share with my girlfriend in Lower Manhattan called Eche Verde. If you know any recent law school graduates who might be interested in an attorney position, let me know!
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