“I’m Just a Solo”: Is Your Mindset Undermining Your Company’s Future?

*This article appeared in the November 2019 edition of our print newsletter

This summer, my team and I spent the weekend at a conference for solo and small law firms, shaking hands and dispensing marketing advice. The trip was a success, but one glaring problem stood out to me. Over and over, I met lawyers from solo and small law firms who were afraid of growth. I don’t think they were even conscious of the fear. Rather, their own mindsets trapped them into making decisions that would ruin their chances of success. 

When lawyers stopped by our booth, almost every conversation followed the same script. After I asked what their specialty was and explained we did marketing for law firms, they shrunk back from investing in our services, giving a variation of the same excuse: “I’m just a solo.” When I asked what they meant, they said, “Oh, it’s just me and very small staff. We just don’t have all the marketing that big firms have.” 

In my mind, that’s a poor man’s attitude. While they may have limited resources, solo and small law firms actually need marketing more than the big guys. Big law firms do their marketing in-house because they have staff specifically for that, but small firms can’t afford that luxury — which is why brands like Spotlight Branding exist. Here’s the reality: If you can’t afford to do marketing, you can’t afford to have a law practice. Clients will still trickle in, but, instead of running your firm, you’ll just have an awful job. You’ll still work 12–15 hours per day just like when you were slaving away at a big firm, but instead of enjoying the perks that firm offered — like in-house office administration, marketing, and bookkeeping — now you’ll have to do it all yourself in addition to the legal work. If you want to avoid that fate, find a way to invest in marketing. 

I have two theories about the source of the “I’m just a solo” line. I already mentioned the first one: Those lawyers have a subconscious fear of growth. They’re afraid their lives might be worse if they grow too much, and they’re worried if they load up with more clients, they’ll have less time for their spouse and kids. They’re thinking, “I’m already stressed now because I’m a solo running my own firm. How much more stressed am I going to be if I get even busier?” Still, ask any one of them if they want to grow their practices, and they’ll probably say yes. Buried underneath that “yes” is the fear, and it’s paralyzing them. 

What those guys don’t realize is there’s both a right and wrong way to grow. I know dozens of solo and small firm attorneys running sevenfigure practices, and, while they have to deal with staff (some associates, an office manager, a paralegal, a secretary), their lives are far better than they used to be. Those lawyers have more free time because they’ve hired people to handle large aspects of their cases. Managing people is tough, but it’s a lot less stressful than struggling to get by every month, wondering where your next retainer will come from. The bottom line is: Don’t be afraid of growth. Invest in marketing, and you’ll end up with more time, more money, and more freedom to take that family vacation. 

My second theory about the “I’m just a solo” attitude is that lawyers are feeling the weight of limited resources. “I’m just a solo,” they’re thinking. “I don’t have the money the big guys do.” I get that, but you can reverse your situation by investing in the right places. Be smart and savvy about where you spend your money. Do the math on how big of a return you’ll get from your investment, and you’ll never hesitate to spend on good marketing. 

So, next time you catch yourself thinking “I’m just a solo,” stop and examine your mindset. Are you setting yourself up for failure or success? Don’t let fear hold you back. And, if you’re ready to grow, give Spotlight Branding a call.

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Spotlight Branding is a content marketing and branding firm for lawyers and other professionals. Our goal is to help you create an online presence that positions you as a credible expert in your field, keeps you connected with your network in order to stay top of mind and increase referrals, and to become more visible online so prospects can find you!