In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, solo attorney Joleena Louis discusses why her finances don’t stress her out like they once did.
Being a business owner is stressful, and the number one thing we stress about is money.
Like many solos, I’ve spent many sleepless nights stressing about money and the future. Even more so after my divorce when my expense increased and I didn’t have my ex-spouse’s income to fall back on.
This stress seriously interfered with my sleep patterns and caused more stress when I was too tired to get everything done; it got to the point where I couldn’t take the stress anymore, so I simply stopped worrying about money.
Once I let go of my worries about money, my business thrived.
Here’s how I was able to minimize the stress when it comes to my firm’s finances.
Focus On The Why
The best piece of advice I received (after a minor panic attack) was not to let what I do overshadow why I do it. This means I don’t get caught up in the day to day struggles and focus on the why.
This has helped my outlook on the situation immensely. When I get stressed out, focusing on why I started my practice makes it easier to do the things I need to do.
Control What You Can
I always tell my client’s not to worry about what they can’t control. Once I started taking this advice myself, I stopped worrying about money so much.
I can’t control how many new clients I get each month, but I can make sure that I am doing everything within my power to keep new leads flowing. Every day I do at least one activity that will bring me new clients or nurture the ones that I have. My mantra is “Never stop marketing.”
So when I feel the dread and stress of how I’ll pay upcoming expenses, I remind myself that I am doing everything in my control to keep money coming in. If there is nothing I can do about it, then I stop worry. If there is something I can do, I’ll do it.
Plan, Plan, Plan
The best way to stop worrying about money is to plan. Know your expenses and have a budget in place. That way during the good months you know exactly how much to set aside for the slower months.
I also keep a prioritized list of things I need spend money on, so when I have a really good month I can pay for the important things first. For example, I’m behind on my CLE’s so that’s what I will spend any overages on before I upgrade my computer.
Make Sure You Get Paid
Many of my colleagues stay awake at night worrying about the money they are owed. It’s very stressful to do work and count on getting paid, then never receive the money. This is one area that I don’t stress about because I have very strict policies regarding payments.
If this is something you worry about, there are several things you can do to make sure you get paid such as increasing your fees, not taking on clients who can’t pay your retainer in full and always being paid before starting any work.
You may miss out on a few clients this way, but they are probably clients who would not have paid you in full anyway.
I still occasionally worry about money, but it no longer keeps me up at night or interferes with my work since I started using the strategies above.
Budget and plan and schedule. I am so trying to learn to do this. Loved your post!
Heidi, it gets easier with time. Now that I’ve been in business a few years, I know which months will be leaner so I’m better prepared.
I very rarely comment on articles, but this is really some of the best advice for solo and small firm practitioners that I’ve read. In our profession, we all tend to be victims of our own expectations as well as our fears and letting go of how and focusing on why is really insightful and great advice.
Thanks for taking the time to put this out there and best of luck in your continued success!
Thanks, Connor! Changing my perspective has made it much easier to manage fears, expectation, and stress.
Everything is in the Hands of God. I have faith in Him and He has never disappointed me. I used to stress when it came to the end of the month and I didn’t know how I would cover my overhead. Without fail, I’d have a new client walk through the door, few in hand, needing me to do this or that. I am quite sure you didn’t plan to open the door for my testimony but that is how I’ve handled solo practice for 29 years. Tiger, Hillsboro, TX
Thanks for reading, Tiger. I feel the same way. I do everything in my control and leave the rest in Gods hands. It hasn’t failed me so far, and it’s great to hear that it worked for you for so long.
Hi I’m from South Africa and as someone that aspires to start my own practice in a few years from now this is the best advice ever. Thank you so much for openness.
Thanks for reading, Nomonde!
Simple, Sound and Applicable. The bitter truth.
Exactly. Thanks for reading, Ayodele!