Doug is an escapee who left behind several different jobs and half-career starts to found a business called The London School of Attraction, which helps men and women improve their dating lives through coaching. Here he gives a rundown on what he wishes he’d known before setting off on his journey.
In my time, I’ve been a trainee at an investment bank, worked in recruitment and been a secondary school teacher. I plotted my escape for a long time before going full time on my business at the end of 2012, but here are three things I wish I‘d known in January 2010 (when I sat down and realised I didn’t want to work for somebody else).
Just for a bit of context… my business is called The London School of Attraction and we offer coaching to men and women to improve their love lives.
#1 Find Like-Minded People
No-one will understand you when you start a business. They’ll despair at the long hours you spend working and they’ll be perplexed when you can’t come out for a drink on a Saturday night.
As you get deeper into your escape, you’ll become more and more isolated from people who are content to work in 9-5 jobs. They won’t understand you and you won’t understand them. They will, however, tell you how “jealous” you are and how “lucky” you are to be able to leave your job. This will be the final straw for you – you know working every day until midnight after a day at work isn’t luck.
So you must find people who are like you; it will motivate you to share your dreams and to remind you that what you’re doing does make sense and isn’t totally insane. London has a great start-up community with networking going on all of the time. I’ve just started going to events and it gives me real buzz.
#2 Find Amazing Staff
Good people will save you time and money and help you along the right path. But be warned: they are very difficult to find.
Most people charge a lot and then begrudgingly deliver something average. What you need more than anything are people who love their jobs. We call them animals – people who relish the work you give to them, people who would probably do it for free.
Over the past few years we’ve hired – in various capacities – over 50 people and we’ve found half a dozen good ones. We’ve wasted months and thousands of pounds standing by a bad hire.
We don’t really bother that much with interviews these days. We just set a lot of people a small task and then hire the one who does it best and who does it fastest. We’ve also found that there is a huge correlation between how good someone is and how quickly they respond – if your candidate gets back to you straight away there’s a good chance he’ll be a keeper.
#3 Learn Basic Tech Skills
This is still something I haven’t done but, if I could go back to January 2010, I would have spent three months learning the basics of coding. Being tech savvy is essential in so many businesses today; even if you run a coffee shop a good website could make or break your business.
My business partner Alex has started to get a good handle on the coding and tech side now, which saves us money but, most importantly, saves us time. If you don’t know the tech side you’re always at the mercy of your web guy who will never case as much about your business as you do.
Your tech guy’s prices will creep up as your dependence increases, but the real killer is that you lose speed. If you need a guy 200 miles away to move a picture across your site and it takes six hours, that could be a day where you don’t have a deal on your site. Learn the tech or at the very least find a business partner who knows the basics.