10 things we learnt at last night’s Esc Wednesday – Jon Cousins & UnLtd

A big thank you to Jon Cousins from Moodscope and Rhiannon Horsley from UnLtd for taking the time to give us some really interesting advice and information.

Thank you to everyone who came to last night’s Esc Wednesday.

If you didn’t come: here is what it was about. Hope you enjoyed it and found it useful.

10 things we learnt:

  1. Plan for your escape thoroughly. Begin saving far in advance. Plan your way out of your current commitments (employees, clients, team members, etc). Don’t leave anyone in the lurch.
  2. Share the reasons why. It was important for Jon to communicate to friends, family, and colleagues what he was doing and why he was doing it.
  3. Be prepared to feel guilty (and a host of other tricky emotions) when you make your escape.
  4. Just go. Despite preparing thoroughly, sometimes it is important not to know what the plan is (when he took his year off, Jon arrived at Heathrow not knowing where he was going to go)
  5. Have a business partner. It’s so much harder to go it alone.
  6. Have a lean start-up approach to your business: keep your costs as low as possible. You don’t need lots of the things you think you need to start a business.
  7. Write all your ideas down, even the bad ones. Don’t edit your creative thought process.
  8. Forecasts are guesses.
  9. Business model evolution: in a social enterprise the people who benefit from your services aren’t always the people who will end up paying you. Be prepared to evolve your business model as you go.
  10. Find someone to challenge you. Jon’s friend asked him: “Can you do it?”… when the answer came back as a “Yes” his friend said: “So do it.”

Jon Cousins – Moodscope:

Lift Your Mood: 1. Clean your teeth, wash your face, measure your mood. A daily must-do. 2. Track your ups and downs on a graph to understand what gets to you. 3. Share your scores with trusted friends so they can support you. Everybody needs a buddy.


UnLtd helps 1,300 social entrepreneurs a year. They provide financial support, advice, mentoring, introductions and also help people find investment from other sources. Plus… if you do get one of their Level 2 grants (£15k towards your living expenses) they don’t want to see the receipts for your corn-flakes.

Hope you all enjoyed last night as much as we did. Good luck with everything, stay in touch, etc.

We covered the minimum spend behind the bar – so thanks to your contributions we can make a donation of £140 to Hope & Homes for Children. So another positive outcome from the evening!

If anyone wants to make any connections from last night that they didn’t manage to do after the questions please just comment below and we’ll try and put you in touch with each other.

  • Paul B


    I really enjoyed yesterday evening listening to Jon and Rhiannon and her colleagues. Thanks for hosting it Rob and Dom!

    The one thing that struck me was the great opportunity for escape most people that were there have right now. If there is a good example of why you guys should do it NOW, it is me: …. although I have had a reasonably good corporate career, I am now 45 years old with two sets of kids’ school fees and a big mortgage. Escaping is SO much harder now than it would have been when I was 25, single and had nothing but a battered rucksack and an old motorbike!

    Having said that, I have made my decision to give it a go (I have six months redundancy payment – no pressure!). I have a few ideas and will approach Unltd when I have progressed those a little further beyond the “pipe-dream stage”, but in the meantime I’d be happy to lend anyone a hand or be a sounding board for ideas. I liked the idea of the ‘excercise book club’! Bouncing one’s ideas off people who are in a similar mindset sounds very inspirational (idea for another Esc Wednesday?).

    I am not that good at creating new ideas but I am good at improving on existing things and I consider myself a fixer: from toasters and classic bikes to enterprise process/IT networks and company structures/cultures. I have first hand, broad knowledge how to grow smaller companies into bigger ones, so maybe I can even help with a start-up.

    Also happy to hear from anyone looking for a partner to go into a new venture. If I can believe in the idea, I’ll give it my all.

    Good luck everyone and remember, do it now!