Candice Aiston, owner of Aiston Law, LLC is an estate planning lawyer and single mother of two. Candice grew up in Kailua, Hawaii, and moved to Portland, OR in 2006 after graduating from law school.
She was inspired to start her business after staying home with her youngest daughter for two years. “I said to myself, ‘Self, these student loans are not going to pay themselves. What should we do with this law degree?’ At the same time, I had recently finished my estate planning and told my mom-friends that I had done so. I found out that all these parents hadn't done any estate planning, so I agreed to help them. After that, I saw that I had a niche and I went with it,” she explains.
Her office is currently located at 205 SE Spokane Street, in Sellwood, near Oaks Amusement Park, although she may be changing locations in Spring 2017. Estate planning, for anyone not familiar with it, is the plan someone has in place to ensure they and their loved ones are taken care of if they die or are incapacitated. It is estimated that 64% of Americans have no will or estate plan in place.
Owning her own business gives Candice the freedom to work from home, homeschool her youngest daughter, be available to her kids, and participate in volunteer activities. “I spend my time working mainly from home unless I have meetings, hanging out with my kids and driving them all over the place to their bajillion activities, hanging out with my friends, throwing really dorky parties, volunteering doing street outreach and homelessness advocacy, and arguing about politics on Facebook,” she says.
Candice’s biggest struggle will likely sound familiar to other MOBs. “Everything is all me, all the time. I can't let go and let anyone else take over any aspect of my business or my life. And so I get spread thin and feel guilty about all areas of life and business. Because in the past, I have had helpers who struggled with meeting my expectations, when I have tried to hire help since then, I tend to spend more time looking over their shoulder than I do doing other things that I should be doing. This is a very hard area for me that I need to break through soon, because it's driving me crazy,” she explains.
Before starting a new business, Candice advises new business owners to save about six months’ worth of expenses to get them through unexpected hard times or to have a spouse with a paycheck that can cover the expenses. She also says, “Try to cut your budget down as much as you can in the first year or so of your business, and when you start making money, save half and invest half in your business. Don't spend it on getting used to a lifestyle you can't be sure you'll be able to sustain. Spend money on good legal and financial planning. You never know how costly cutting corners is until something bad happens and it's too late to fix it.”
She continues, “I have to say that while it's wise to listen to other people's advice, sometimes you have to take risks, and if you know in your heart that you have to start your business or make a particular business decision that people don't understand, you might have to shut off all the negative voices and just jump in and make it happen. That's probably terrible advice, but I had so many people telling me I couldn't open my firm, that the people I wanted to serve didn't want legal services, that I needed to put in my time suffering with a big firm before going out on my own. But I did what I wanted anyway and was very quickly successful.”
Candice started her business during the Great Recession and in a new town, “I am very proud of myself for starting my firm during the Great Recession, when lawyers were getting laid off by the thousands, in a town where I had no connections and no one would give me a loan, and building it to the point that it's at today.”
She says she enjoys being a part of the mob and connecting with people who are excited about what they've created for themselves and their community. “There's just something really special about entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial spirit. I think a lot of us are rebels. But we are passionate, perfectionist rebels (for better or for worse). And as women and moms, we face really unique challenges as entrepreneurs. So I love the combination of excitement and understanding.”
Candice loves working for herself because it gives her flexibility and the ability to make her own rules about appearance and public relations. “I have been able to be there for every important kid event, volunteer, take vacations, and sit in my pajamas all day on a day I don't have any meetings. I'm also able to homeschool my youngest. I'm able to help out friends who need help with childcare in a jam. I'm able to participate in social justice actions like protests.” Being the boss of her time and schedule also gives her the freedom to make quick decisions. “If I think something is a good idea, I can just do it. I don't have to convince anybody that my opinions are valuable. I have pretty great instincts that I trust. As a woman, things would be a lot different if I worked for a big firm.”
It also means she has the final say in all areas of her work. “I only have to answer to my clients. I can wear what I want, like colorful cat dresses or my exercise gear. (You can still look like a lawyer if you throw a lawyer coat over it.) I can be vocal about my political views without worrying about being fired. I am in charge of my own risks in this area.”
Candice works with people who want to do the best they can to make things as easy as possible for their loved ones if they die or are incapacitated. “I work with a lot of families that have young children, since that's where I got my start. But those clients referred their friends and family to me, and so I have all sorts of ages and asset/income levels now when it comes to clients. I often represent three generations of a family at a time, and that's something that I love to do,” she explains.
You can find Candice online at:
candiceaistonlaw.com -- main website
facebook.com/aistonlaw -- Facebook business page
candiceaistonlawblog.typepad.com -- business blog