I discovered recently that a colleague from my old firm left the law a few months after I did and has been building a fashion consultant business for the past year or so. Her angle is advising female lawyers on how to dress for their workplace. Keen to connect with fellow legal services refugees and fellow entrepreneurs, I met her for a coffee today.
She seemed happy and satisfied with her change and it sounded like she’s had some small successes but it became clear that she had been making the exact wrong assumption about what would trigger serious growth in her business. In fact, unbeknownst to her, she repeated nearly verbatim the totally incorrect things I said to myself when I was running Book City Jackets including “I just need one great mention to get things going”.
I felt like a crusty old vet when I told her that unless she was writing a book and unless the mention were to come from Oprah, she was almost definitely wrong about what will lead to the kind of growth she has envisioned. I told her that being written about in a blog or magazine was a fun short-term boost but not a base to build a business off of and that she needed to figure out how to connect with potential customers on a more consistent basis. But I also told her that I shared her feeling of excitement whenever I managed to close a deal, agreed that whatever successes we achieved in our own businesses felt better than almost any we had while sitting in our Aeron chairs as colleagues, and that (at least for now) the long slog felt worth it.