Help! I Have Imposter Syndrome!

It's cool. So does everybody else. No matter what they tell you.

Nobody really knows what they are doing, especially in our era of extreme uncertainty. Not other food entrepreneurs (even the seemingly successful ones), not the CEO of General Mills, not Michelle Obama, not Warren Buffett -- nobody.  A ton has been written on this subject, especially about entrepreneurs in general. (Examples here, here, and here.)

But you know who really suffers from imposter syndrome? Lawyers. Lawyers never feel like they *really* know what they are doing. Why? Because the practice of law is inherently uncertain, even in times of economic and political stability. 

Lawyers have it bad. Really bad.

Have you ever noticed that lawyers are always answering questions with "It depends."? Do you know why? Because it DOES. It does depend. It depends on so many freaking variables. And lawyers can control so few of those variables. As a result, lawyers are internally freaking out most of the time. Because the fun fact about lawyers is that in addition to the practice of law being relatively out of control, the thing lawyers hate the most is.... BEING WRONG. Lawyers HATE being wrong. More than anything. But they will absolutely be wrong, at least some of the time, and they can't control when and how it will happen. (It's not a coincidence that the legal profession has insanely high rates of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, etc.)

Good Lawyers Have Imposter Syndrome, Too. But They Can Still Help You.

But here's the deal. Good lawyers do actually know what they are doing -- to a degree. Good lawyers can help you prioritize your legal needs, they can tell you what your biggest risks (probably) will be, and they can help you protect your hard-won business achievements. Experienced lawyers see the same patterns happen over and over again, and if they work in a particular industry (like food, or tech), they get even better at identifying those patterns for specific types of businesses. So lawyers can give you the best possible advice available at a particular time, given the information the lawyer has. But that's the best you can get. Unless your lawyer has a crystal ball and can see the future. (P.S. They don't.)


So there are three takeaway points here: 

  1. If you are a food entrepreneur and you feel like you don't know what you are doing, you are not alone, and you probably know far more than you think you do.
  2. Your lawyer is right there with you. So you don't need to feel intimidated or nervous about dealing with your lawyer (or any lawyer). Lawyers work really hard at putting on an all-knowing facade, but just remember that behind that confident facade, they are just as freaked out as you are. 
  3. Even though your lawyer is silently suffering from imposter syndrome, if they have experience and food industry knowledge, they can help protect your business. Learn more about when it makes sense to call your lawyer.

I'm Worried Someone Might Get Sick, Bankrupt My Business, and Ruin My Life