The number one reason why startup solos fail in their efforts to start a law firm is a lack of commitment. This is especially true now, when many newly-minted lawyers are deciding to start their own firms. Many are simply resigned to solo practice because they feel they have no better options, and decide to be solo until “something better” comes along. This is a recipe for failure.
Enlist your partner
It takes more than just your own commitment. Everyone who matters to your success must also be committed. Before I decided to go out on my own, my wife (then my girlfriend, actually) and I agreed to commit for three years, barring complete failure. Without that conversation, I do not think my firm would have lasted three months.
We set the length of time based on my conversations with at least a dozen friends and family members who started their own businesses. I talked to construction contractors, physicians, dentists, lawyers, and more. I wanted to know how long it took before they felt like they had enough money in the bank to make it through a slow month, and like they had a fairly dependable pipeline of business.
The answers varied a bit, but not much. Most said it took two to three years before they felt secure in their own business. So that is what we used for our checkpoint.
Commit to your practice
You must commit to starting your own firm. This means working your tail off to make it succeed. It means not being afraid to take clients, and it means you stop applying for jobs so you can focus on your firm.
It means spending money to make money. Not a lot, necessarily. But you will need a law firm website, business cards, letterhead, and you will need to schedule lots of coffee, lunch, and beer with potential referral sources and clients.
In other words, acknowledge that you are in business, and give that business every chance you can to succeed.