My Shingle

You Don’t Have To Get It Perfect…

by Carolyn Elefant on December 21, 2005 · 2 comments

in Articles, Encouragement, Should I Solo?

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Allison Shields of the new Legalease practice-building blog has a post taking inventory for the New Year that contains some great advice:  you don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to get it going.  That advice applies to many lawyers contemplating solo practice.  Sure, you don’t want to just jump into it without thinking about it and if you have the time, you want to plan.  But on the other hand, if you don’t get going at all, you may never have the chance to get it perfect – and as I’ve said before, you might miss an opportunity to start your firm at all.

In some respects, there are benefits to not having everyting perfectly planned
when you start a firm.  When I began, I was still working off my home
computer and I only had part time office space.   Within a couple of
months, I realized that I needed a new machine – and that it was going
to have to be a laptop because I was spending so much time at the
library or working at client sites.  Had I purchased a machine before
opening my firm, I might have bought a desktop simply because that’s
what I’d always used before.  As for office space, after I’d been
working from virtual space for a year, I met another energy attorney
who offered to sublet space in downtown DC for an unbelievable rate.
The best deal that I’d had prior to that was $100 more a month in an
office with worn carpet that reeked of cigarette smoke.  I might have
taken that space had I felt compelled to settle where I was working in
advance.  Or I might have waited to start a firm until I could afford
nicer space – and might never have found the other attorney.

The “getting it going” applies to other projects that many of us have on our plates – maybe starting a weblog or embarking on a new marketing campaign.   As we go through our inventory at the end of the year, we should try to take stock of which ones we can get going on even though we might get off to an imperfect start.

  • Jay Gatsby

    Nobody really knows what “perfect” means in the context of opening a solo practice. However, there is one basis rule in business that even aspiring solos must follow — you must have a plan. That plan must be sufficiently detailed so as to be actually useful, but should also be flexible when circumstances require. Foonberg’s classic book on starting a practice is a great guide for incorporating the necessary details into a solo business plan, as is much of the advice provided on this website.
    Also, keep in mind that proper planning gets things started on the right foot, which is often dispositive in regards to whether a solo venture succeeds or fails. Motivation is all well and good, and can sustain you for a little while, but it doesn’t take the place of proper planning.

  • Jay Gatsby

    Nobody really knows what “perfect” means in the context of opening a solo practice. However, there is one basis rule in business that even aspiring solos must follow — you must have a plan. That plan must be sufficiently detailed so as to be actually useful, but should also be flexible when circumstances require. Foonberg’s classic book on starting a practice is a great guide for incorporating the necessary details into a solo business plan, as is much of the advice provided on this website.
    Also, keep in mind that proper planning gets things started on the right foot, which is often dispositive in regards to whether a solo venture succeeds or fails. Motivation is all well and good, and can sustain you for a little while, but it doesn’t take the place of proper planning.

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