Bold Broads highlights women founders and creative [read: BADASS] small business owners about how they really deal with the ups and downs of running a BOLD business. These women share honest wisdom and tough lessons to support you in collectively making good shit happen in your own women-led startup or small business. Meet Shivani Honwad of The Law Firm of Shivani Honwad. She focuses primarily on start-up business and immigration law for companies in the fashion, tech, travel and entertainment realms.
Let's meet her, shall we?
1. STARTING A BUSINESS IS HARD AND SOMETIMES LONELY. WHAT THE F*CK MOTIVATED YOU TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
After I graduated from law school I completed a clerkship for a Judge for a year and then worked in both the public and private sectors. In the public sector I loved the work I was doing, but could barely afford to live in NYC. When I switched to the private sector, I was able to afford to live in NYC, but was not really a fan of the type of law and clientele. Also, I had absolutely no time to pursue my passions or spend time with my family or friends. I started my own law firm to balance all of this in being able to work with people I wanted to work with, build my own schedule so I could be there for my family and friends, and also be able to earn enough to not live paycheck to paycheck.
2. HOW DO YOU STAY MOTIVATED TO KEEP THRIVING IN A CREATIVE SPACE WHERE EVERYONE SEEMS TO ONE-UP EACH OTHER?
My clients keep me motivated. I try really hard to let my clients know that I care about them and their business. To do this, I do not take on everyone that approaches me. Rather, I'm now selective about the people I work with as that creates a more positive working relationship when there is mutual respect. I actually am doing 0 marketing right now but am at capacity and even hiring other attorneys to help me based purely off of referrals from current/past clients. A lot of attorneys can do the same work that I do, but no one is going to replicate the way I interact with my clients, the passion I bring to the table and my personality. It's key to focus on what you do well and build a niche in that area as that is the best way to find both success and happiness. When someone contacts you and says how strongly their friend referred you, that’s motivating to want to do as good of a job on this person's case so they also speak highly of you in the future.
3. SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSES ARE OFTEN QUIETLY SUPPORTED BY A COLLECTIVE OF WOMEN MENTORS, FRIENDS AND BUSINESS OWNERS. WHAT COMMUNITIES AND RESOURCES HAVE BEEN MOST PIVOTAL TO YOUR OWN BUSINESS SUCCESS?
Dreamers//Doers has been the most incredible organization for me both personally and professionally. Not only did I get to meet some incredibly badass female entrepreneur clients that I am excited to work with, but I also gained a supportive community of friends. Starting your own business is hard. It's especially hard when you're doing something that is not conventional and that is different than what your family and friends are doing. Finding people that understand what it takes to run your own company, those who will walk you through the obstacles and celebrate the joys, makes a world of difference.
4. NO BULLSH*T; WHAT'S THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS? AND EQUALLY IMPORTANT; HOW ARE YOU WORKING TO OVERCOME THIS?
Charging people. I love helping people. I hate having to tell someone they need to pay me before I help them. As my mentors have repeatedly reminded me, I now look at it as they are paying for my knowledge, expertise and time. Which if they had, they could solve their problem themselves, but they don't, and that's why they're coming to me and I need to charge them to shovel out of my law school student loans debt, which is how I acquired that knowledge to help in the first place! However, I wish I was in a position to just help people for free and not have to worry about who can pay and who cannot.
5. SHARE THE MOST HELPFUL PIECE OF ADVICE YOU'VE EVER BEEN GIVEN.
The most helpful piece of advice I have been given is to say "No." I know this seems so simple in theory, but as someone who has always sought to help everyone around me no matter the circumstances, it is not easy. I do a lot of pro bono work, but I had to learn to say No in not taking on every single case that I was referred as I did not have the resources to sustain that. It also means saying No to those clients that you know are going to be difficult to work with and who will unnecessarily drain your time and energy. Saying No is helpful because it frees up your time to invest it in the things that you want to work on and the people with whom you wish to work.
I UNAPOLOGETICALLY OWN MY BOLD BROAD BADASSERY BECAUSE...
I fell into my specialization in a very unexpected way, but I love that I am able to play this role in helping female entrepreneurs. I met a woman at a concert several years ago who was a booking agent. When she found out I was a lawyer she looked me up and down a few times before making the comment: "Well, you won't sexually harass me." I had no idea where she was going with it at the time, but she explained that every attorney she worked with was an older male attorney who would demand that she go to dinner with him before he would review the documents she needed signed, or constantly hit on her every time she met with them. I learned that this was a pervasive issue facing many women, and why they were hesitant to seek out legal counsel, even when they needed it. I love that I can provide a safe space where women can express their legal needs to me without having to worry about being made to feel uncomfortable. I also love that since I now take on only clients I believe in, I get to serve as one of their biggest advocates walking them through turning their dreams into reality.
BOLD BROAD BONUS***FAVE APP?
I love the Tycoon App! It is the perfect app for freelancers to track their income on the go, giving you updates about what income you have coming in and when. It is like using an Excel spreadsheet, but better since it has the built in reminders!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shivani Honwad, Esq. founded The Law Firm of Shivani Honwad, LLC in 2014 after working in the public and private sectors. She focuses primarily on start-up business and immigration law for companies in the fashion, tech, travel and entertainment realms. Shivani is a passionate advocate for human rights and dedicates part of her practice to these efforts. She successfully lobbied to amend Delaware’s state laws to provide better protections to juvenile victims of prostitution and is actively advocating for improved transparency in the modeling industry in NYC. She is also on the Young Executive Board of the Nomi Network, the Young Professionals Board of Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) and a member of the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition.