How Fear of Failure Affects A Solo

By Joleena Louis - October 28, 2015
How Fear of Failure Affects A Solo

This week in Things I Wish I Knew, Joleena Louis discusses how fear of failure affects a solo attorney.

Starting and running a solo practice means dealing with a lot of different emotions, including anger, surprise and pride.

But the most difficult emotion to deal with as a solo is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what might happen or what might not.

When it all boils down to it, it means fear of failure.  

While we as solos are doing something for ourselves, we risk a lot going out on our own: money, our reputation and sometimes even our relationships.

I recently went through a divorce and it can be said that a lot of it came down to me putting my career first.

Fear of failure is unpleasant and has proven to be a real stress on my career as a solo.  

Fear of failure can be a motivational killer.

For me, the primary root of fear is uncertainly.

When you are a solo, this uncertainty can lie in a lot of areas:  paying the bills next month, keeping clients coming in, keeping my current clients happy, and whether I can really do this.  

Constantly worrying about these things and being afraid of this uncertainty is extremely draining, and it can kill the motivation needed to keep pushing our practices forward.

The thought of taking the easy road out made me feel worse.

I recently considered giving it all up and going back to working for someone else. On the surface, it seemed so much easier to put in my 9-6 and walk away with a paycheck every week. No more uncertainty and a lot less stress.

In the span of a week I sent out resumes, got called for interviews and was even offered a couple of positions.

But instead of feeling happy, I felt like I failed. I felt like I failed those who believed in me, including my family and most importantly my clients. I worked so hard to get my practice to where it is and it’s not fair to give up on it now because things got hard.

Knowing that I still had the potential to do more and I gave it up would haunt me.  

It’s hard giving up the “solo” identity.

The funny thing about being a solo is not only are we fiercely independent, but we are also rebels in a sense.

I like being in charge of my schedule and being able to choose the clients I represent. I’ve worked hard to build a brand and reputation in the legal community and I don’t feel comfortable giving someone else control of that brand.

After this experience I received the best advice from my little sister. She asked me if I was honestly doing everything possible to grow my business. The answer was “no.”

She told me that if I worked harder than anyone else, if I did everything I could possibly do to succeed, it would be impossible for me to fail.

So while I still have many fears, worries and concerns as a solo, I will no longer fear failure. Because I won’t allow myself to fail. That’s the difference.

There are many benefits to working for yourself, but also many scary negatives. The same can be said for working for someone else.
7 Deadly Mistakes That Prevent Law Practice Success

About Joleena Louis

Joleena Louis is a matrimonial and family law attorney at Joleena Louis Law, a firm she founded after leaving a boutique matrimonial firm in Brooklyn. Joleena is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Financial District location. Her weekly blog series Things I Wish I Knew... explores her thought process and experiences in her transition from small law firm employee to successful solo practice entrepreneur. Follow Joleena on Twitter.

One thought on “How Fear of Failure Affects A Solo

  1. Paul Starrett
    on said:

    Joleena, thank you very much for this perspective. I was recently laid off of a GC role and I have been putting myself through a predictive analytics degree (finish Spring next year). I plan to open my own firm specializing in risk management. Why this decision? I wanted to have control of my own destiny and lifestyle. I was tired of selling my soul to the wrong agenda. I always remain open minded to the right opportunity, but, until then, I will pilot my own ship. My point? Sometimes there is more security and reward in non-monetary aspects of life!

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