Hanging Out Your Shingle — The Downside

The downside of going at it alone is big. All of the docketing, secretarial work, filing, etc is handled by me. I order supplies, maintain the computers, do the billing, make the coffee, build the website, answer the phones, etc.

The other big worry is the rollercoaster of work. Some months it seems like there is nothing to do, other months it is sheer pandemonium and I work like a dog. Following that rollercoaster is the up and down of collections. Some months everyone pays and other months nobody does. The key is to be able to enjoy the downtime by golfing, skiing, or fixing things around the house, if you can financially afford it.

One thing that is hard to quantify is the personal stress that going solo involves. When I was a salaried employee, I only worried when the company was doing poorly and there was a specter of layoffs. When you are solo, that specter can haunt at any time.

A big firm may have loads of clients and if one client leaves, there is barely a ripple in the pond. As a solo, especially starting out, every client is critical. Keeping them happy is job 1.

The other part of the specter is those months when it seems like there is no work coming in and there is nothing to do. Compound that with the lack of cash and it can be a serious ulcer sometimes. Having that internal fortitude is a necessary component.

I think in years gone by, people were hesitant to go out on their own because of the lack of substantive expertise that a seasoned partner might be able to instill. I stumbled into blogging a couple months after I went solo and have gotten a lot out of the experience. I have established several excellent contacts with other bloggers who have been very willing to help on any technical issue of law or practice question that I may have had. Every single time I have called another attorney or agent and asked for help, I have been met with an enthusiastic and genuine response.

The loneliness of working at home can be oppressive sometimes. For me, I mix in some flying in the morning, hockey at lunch, and maybe golf in the afternoon and I satisfy most of that. A good day is when I can do one of those three, a great day is when I can do all of them.

Part of my makeup is that I like the edge that comes with being solo. There is a scariness and excitement that gives the business something more than being in a large firm. It fits my personality and my bent as an entrepreneur.

Going solo is not for everyone, nor should it be. It happens to fit my personality and my goals, and I am very thankful that I have had the chance to give it a try.

Tomorrow, I will have a few more comments on going solo.