What Do You Do When….

Back in August the northeast was hit with hurricane Irene which destroyed the Connecticut coastline in many areas, homes and businesses went without electric for up to a week.  In response I posted When Disaster Strikes: The Client Communications Plan.

At the end of October the northeast was hit with a freak pre-Halloween snow storm which wreaked havoc in the tri-state area, thousands of trees broken or completed toppled and numerous towns without electric for up to 11 days courtesy of a poorly thought out response plan by Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating.

Oklahoma got rocked by an unprecedented earthquake.  Alaska has been hit by an epic storm.  All this before we’ve even celebrated Thanksgiving.   If we go by the dearth of hickory nuts on the ground this fall and the countless squirrels scrambling for food chances are this winter is going to be one for the record books.  The fact is we are experiencing climate changes which are becoming increasingly disruptive to our personal and professional lives.  For a solo, especially, these types of disruptions require extra work to keep business running smoothly as many work from their homes.

However, there are other types of disruptions in life that can upend a solo practice simply because we are human.  It has nothing to do with work ethic or not being extremely efficient. It has to do with the psychology of actually being disrupted and how we respond to the disruption.

In the course of working with our faculty, columnists, and students over these years I’ve seen many a lawyer’s life being disrupted.  The disruptions include:

  • unexpected death of a parent
  • birth of a child
  • complications from the birth of a child
  • prolonged unanticipated family emergencies
  • caring for an elderly parent
  • physical injury
  • health complications
  • physical exhaustion
  • cancer
  • divorce
  • depression

While you might say that whether you work as a solo or in a practice with others these are human conditions that impact us all, the difference is this:  when you work for another there are built in benefits and protections, many of these protections are laws employers must not violate and if they do, there is recourse.  These protections guarantee you the time off without impacting your pay or holding your job for when you return.  They also include coverage for your clients  so your clients don’t suffer.

We all know going in that as a solo we are going to wear multiple hats, be stressed out juggling multiple balls in the air and will (hopefully) ultimately conclude the benefits of entrepreneurship outweigh the challenges.  But theory is different then reality. How are you going to respond when you are actually impacted by a major physical or emotional life disruption, one that also takes its toll on the time you have to devote to your solo practice impacting client attraction, and retention, growth, cash flow, reputation?  Read the comments on the blog post about what to do when natural disasters strike.  Then ask yourself what plan do you have in place for the unexpected ( or expected) disruption in your life that can’t be as logically and easily planned for or fixed like the restoration of  internet service?

I’d love for you to share some of your experiences and maybe we can create a list which will help all solos. I plan to do a follow up post with some thoughts and ideas and would like to incorporate your comments.

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