It is a peculiar position that I have put myself in: a new solo giving advice to new solos. I have made myself the proverbial guinea pig, but I am of the opinion that it is all for the good. If sharing my successes and shortcomings—I am hard pressed to call them failures—is good for the practice, then I am all for this social experiment that is my life.
Never has a word struck such fear into a business owner’s heart like that one. It seems to be the one word I say to myself and hear from others most often regarding this new venture. But anyone who has ever met me is fully aware that waiting for things is not my strong suit. I can confidently say that most solo practitioners also loathe waiting for anything; that is partly why we decided to chart our own paths now rather than letting fate dictate it for us.
Alas, the reality of this life is teaching me that starting a business is like anything else: there will undoubtedly be moments of quietness.
I would be doing you a disservice if I said that waiting is easy or even tolerable. In fact, it is quite the opposite. There are few things that frustrate me more than being on a hot streak and having to come to an abrupt stop because I had to wait for some preceding event to occur.
But the inevitable follow up question is: what do I do in the interim? Simple. Grow.
I have a love-hate relationship with the Spring. I am an April baby, but I have horrible allergic reactions to pollen. Be that as it may, I am impatient (big surprise) for flowers to bloom.
Flowers will always be a timeless analogy for personal or professional growth. Here we have this tiny seed, which can be the genesis for some of the most beautiful bouquets you will ever see. But if you just walk around with a seed in your pocket all season, it really does neither you nor your garden much good. It is the same with your time, talent, and tenacity.
When opportunities are not yet in abundance, that is the time for you to plant. It is in those quiet months where you should be meeting other professionals, developing deep and meaningful connections with senior practitioners; it is at this time that you should be reading everything you can about your practice area; it is at this time that you should be marketing yourself the hardest. A business card, like a seed, does you no good if it remains in your pocket. And after we plant that seed, we must protect it and feed it.
Planting prize-winning tulips in gardens full of thorns and hungry birds is a waste of time. That is why we expend so much effort tilling the soil and tearing the wee
ds out by their roots. So should it be with our practice. If those whom you associate with cannot assist you to professional maturation, then they will only hinder you from seeing your maximum potential. It is a simple concept that we—often in our haste—tend to overlook.
We plow the soil so it is healthy and able to sustain growth. And we wait for the rain.
Often, as new business owners, we blame ourselves for the “financial drought” even when we are doing everything right. But we must remember that everything has a season. Even on the African plains, the land can be bone dry for months, but when the heavens open, the earth and everything on it springs to life.
So, in the mean time we must prepare ourselves for the rapid growth that will surely follow. And when our practices are in full bloom, we will look back on those trying times and our days spent waiting will be but a fleeting memory. But we just need to be patient.