Monday, September 08, 2008

Brain un-freeze

What a difference a week makes.

Last week, after receiving the news that I had two weeks to set up my own shop, I was completely flailing. My brain was in overdrive as I tried to come up with a list of what I needed to do, and more importantly, how I was going to do it. The result was a state of semi-paralysis. As soon as I started researching this billing software or that small business accounting program, I would think of something else, like how I was going to save for retirement or what kind of website I needed to set up or how to get my own online research account or, most fundamentally, how I would get clients and be able to continue paying my mortgage. I was in a near-constant state of anxiety, I didn't sleep, and I accomplished very little.

But slowly but surely, I figured out what needed to be done now (finding a 401K I can participate in, setting up billing and accounting systems, and getting a small business loan) and what could wait (the website, signing up for short terms disability insurance, designing stationary). And slowly but surely, I started checking things off the list.

I figured out that as a member of the Hawaii bar, I'm eligible to participate in a 401K plan run by the American Bar Association. So I called and the guy was super-nice and he's sending me all the paperwork and that's done.

Then I remembered that I'm a still a member of the credit union for State Department employees (my mom helped me open an account there when I was in my teens). Credit unions tend to offer really competitive loan rates, so I dug through my old files and found my account number and called them and got a line of credit set up to help cover cash flow while the business gets up and running. I also got approved by a different bank for a personal loan, just in case.

I found an inexpensive time and billing software program that has all the features I would require, so I downloaded it and set up a rate table and client lists and all of that.

It turns out that Quicken's most basic small business accounting software is a free download from their website, so I'm already keeping track of expenses and taxes and invoices.

And most of that was in the last four hours.

And best of all, I got work. This past Friday, Kathleen, who works for an organization that represents school boards, was working on a brief that was due at midnight, and she was panicking because she didn't feel like she'd be able to finish it in time. So she called me, and she and I spend the rest of the day finishing the brief together. It was wonderful to work with Kathleen again -- we kept sending each other luurve notes about how much fun we were having -- and it was wonderful that, a week after finding out that I was going to be on my own, I had a paying gig.

I'm feeling empowered and capable. Still terrified, but empowered and capable nonetheless.


  1. Congrats! It's all going swimmingly! And this is just the beginning!

  2. Perfect! And I'll bet that this is also a place where you can figure out a way to make the time zone difference work to your advantage as well...You're going to be super great! I know it!

  3. Fantastic news! I'm amazed of the progress, you make something which requires a great deal of skill look easy! I know having your own business just going to get better and better for you.

  4. Anonymous4:48 AM

    You are well on your way to being one of the most successful attorneys on the island!

    And seriously, if you need (free)help with ANYTHING stateside, you know how to reach me!