Small Business Interview: Okeoma Moronu, The Happy Lawyer Project
Meet Okeoma Moronu, the creator of The Happy Lawyer Project, an awesome platform where she focuses on helping lawyers develop the personal, spiritual and emotional foundation they need to be happy no matter where their lives or careers take them. In this interview she shares the frustrations that led her to starting her own business, how she determined what her services were worth price wise, the most important elements of running a business and how she achieves balance. This is an absolutely inspirational read - Enjoy!
"I think a crucial and often under-emphasized element is understanding the difference between confidence and courage. Running a successful business takes a fair bit of both."
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your business. What is it called and what services / products do you offer?
Hi, I’m Okeoma Moronu. I am the founder of The Happy Lawyer Project, LLC, which is a coaching, consulting and community focused small business built around my podcast of the same name.
On my weekly podcast, I share inspirational stories and strategies for lawyers trying to find happiness in life and law. Through my coaching and consulting practice, I guide my clients to discover the skills they need to find happiness in their daily lives, help them develop lifestyle goals and together we create a plan for accomplishing those goals.
In addition to my coaching practice, I am continuing to build out my consulting services through which I have the opportunity to work directly with law firms focused primarily on wellness, retention and inclusion practices.
Can you share a bit about how you chose this line of business? What transition did you make to owning your own business?
I’ve always been an optimist. As a young lawyer, I found myself playing the role of grumpy, stressed out, depressed lawyer. I wasn’t in alignment with who I knew myself to be, and through my personal happiness study and the work I did with my own coach, was able to find my way back to myself.
As I developed personally and professionally, I continued to look for resources to support me along my journey and found there was a gap in the market when it came to lawyers in search of a happier, more purpose-driven life within the constructs of their current reality. There are a lot of amazing coaches, consultants and therapists out there who focus specifically on helping lawyers achieve professional success or, in some cases, leave the law altogether, but I wanted to help lawyers develop the personal, spiritual and emotional foundation they need to be happy no matter where their lives or careers take them.
Do you have any special training?
I have a J.D. from Columbia University and an L.LM. in International Criminal Law from the University of Amsterdam and am licensed to practice in both New York and Texas. I am currently completing my ICF coaching certification so I can take my coaching practice to the next level.
To be honest, I think most of my training has been in the form of my personal experience working directly with my own coaches, attending conferences and workshops with thought leaders, and supplementing that along the way with a huge amount of self-directed learning. I read quite a bit, but over the past 3 years have focused primarily on the areas of personal development, mindset, neurobiology, motivation, habit-building and productivity.
How did you decide how to price your services? How did you determine what your services were worth?
I price my services based on three factors:
- The value of the service to my clients
- What my ideal client can afford and,
- What I need to make.
It’s always a process to get the pricing just right with each new service and product, so it’s helpful to have these guiding principles.
Value: I believe in value-based pricing. As a lawyer, I really wanted to move away from billing by the hour (or 1/6th of an hour, as the case may be) and move towards pricing based on the value of the products and services I provide. It became clear to me that my clients don’t care about how much of my time they get. In other words, my clients aren’t paying for my time what they are paying for the results that they will feel and see in their daily lives.
Affordability: Due to the public nature of BigLaw salaries, I have a good sense of what my clients make. Having been a BigLaw associate in New York, I am also cognizant the financial burdens many young lawyers face when living in an expensive city and paying down student loan debt, so I never want our engagement to add to their financial burden. I always keep that in mind and try to price my services accordingly.
Alignment: It was also important to me to work in alignment with my own values of family, freedom and impact. I have very limited free time and did not want to create a business that required me to work 60+ hours a week to make ends meet, that wouldn’t be sustainable for me or my family and would eventually lead to resentment and burnout. Therefore, I always work backwards to make sure that the product or service I’m offering is priced in a way that makes it worth my time.
What do you consider the most important elements of running a successful business?
I think a crucial and often under-emphasized element is understanding the difference between confidence and courage. Running a successful business takes a fair bit of both. There are lots of amazing ideas and wonderfully passionate people out there, the difference between those people and the people who are able to run successful businesses is the confidence to overcome obstacles and the courage to take risks when it feels incredibly foolish to do so.
Do you have any advice on managing your small business finances?
Set up a good foundation. If your system of managing is not scalable then it will inevitably limit your growth. It’s easy to just “make it work” when you get started but if you want your business to grow, you need to have a good system and it’s so much easier if you are actively engaged in managing your finances along the way.
How do you balance work and life owning a small business?
I’ve become very good at prioritizing my priorities. At each stage of the business, I am crystal clear about how the business will work around my desired lifestyle. For example, I know that mornings with my kids are sacred so that time is permanently blocked out on my calendar. It is a rare occasion when I look at my phone before 8am.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I try not to get too hyper focused on a singular vision of the future, instead, I focus on how I want to feel about my progress and the trajectory of my life. In 5 years, I want to have the flexibility to travel with my family, the freedom to spend money abundantly, and be doing work that has a positive impact on my community. For a lot of people, these may seem too vague, but for me I find that these visions align with my values and give me lots of room to experiment in my life, which I enjoy!
Please share a fun fact about yourself
My goal is to one day take a year-long trip around the globe and world school my children. We are already preparing by raising our children multilingual.