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What we learnt from Unlocked Guides at last week’s Esc Wed.

Last Wednesday 40 intrepid Esc members braved the tube strike and the grumpy hordes of pavement walkers to make it to the private bar above The Yorkshire Grey. It was our first Esc Wednesday since we put them on hold to concentrate on the website over the summer (re-launch!).

Our special guests were Josh and Emily from Unlocked Guides. Just wanted to say a big thank you to both of them for sharing their time and experiences with us. Had a very sore head on Thursday – note to self: Esc Wednesdays are not an excuse for a mid-week party (well they kind of are).

Here are some things that we learnt

  • Starting a business with a partner seems like a much better idea than going it alone. If you’ve known each other forever (like Josh & Emily) it can definitely help.
  • Within the team take the lead on what you do best but be prepared to get involved with all the varied little tasks that come with starting your own business.
  • There is no set way to do a startup – do it in the way it works for you. The Unlocked Guides team spend 50% of their time doing ‘other work’ that pays the bills. It works for them. You don’t have to conform to other peoples’ expectations of how a business should be started.
  • Having an impulsive person and a voice of reason on the team is a good thing! Allow both to exercise influence at certain times.
  • The single veto rule seemed like a great idea: basically if either Josh or Emily doesn’t think something should happen it doesn’t happen (i.e. they both have to be fully behind a new idea to do it).
  • Strong relationships at the point of purchase are key for these guys in terms of growing their business (making sales)!
  • To get your idea off the ground talk to as many people as possible in the early days
  • Sweat the tiny details (e.g. the gold stars in one of the first books weren’t shiny enough. make them shinier!).
  • Name-dropping helps open doors. Having a recognisable name associated with your business will increase your credibility at first meetings and make people more inclined to take you seriously.
  • The city is a great place to start your career, build a network, and learn about business.
  • Emily has a fantastic ‘dont spend winters in the UK policy’ – the fact that she has managed this at the same time as pursuing a career in PR, management consulting, an MBA, and her own startup is even more impressive. It can be done!
  • Both Josh & Emily are examples of the fact that the traditional full-time salaried professional job isn’t the only way to pursue a successful and fulfilling career (i.e. contracting is a fantastic way to pay the bills while working on your thing).
  • Starting a business doing something that interests you is really fun – they’re clearly having a lot of fun.

What have I missed?

Did you come to the Esc Wed?

What have I forgotten?

What did you get from it?

We also learnt that if you get a bunch of likeminded people in a room, feed them beer, and provide an atmosphere conducive to chatting exciting connections will happen and great fun will be had by all. Thanks to everyone who came. We’re already looking forward to the next one!