10 Tips for Leaping from Law to Startups

Rob & App

Rob Hall left City law-firm Clifford Chance in 2013 to set-up Wriggle – a mobile-app bringing users last-moment opportunities for eating, drinking and going out. After successfully launching in Bristol, Wriggle is in the middle of a Seedrs crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to expand across the UK.

Here Rob shares his top 10 guidelines for making that leap from law to entrepreneurialism:

1. Leverage your law.

You might not love being a lawyer. You might be living for the weekend or your next holiday – but the experience will help you out, so don’t regret it! You’ll have confidence, you’ll be able to draft your own contracts, and investors, customers or clients will give you more respect.

2. Don’t have a good idea?

So many friends tell me they’d love to start a business but haven’t had the right idea. There are endless business ideas out there, so it’s not about finding that one killer idea. First of all, it’s more about the execution, and secondly, you’ll most likely end up changing it anyway. If you really want to do it, you’ll find something. In the meantime, you can start reading about startups or getting involved in the startup community (through Escape, Startup Weekends or a host of other meetups or events) to find inspiration.

3. Get a move on!

If you want to set up a business, then get a move on – it’s much harder to take the plunge when you’re mortgaged up and have a family. The Escape Manifesto is full of great advice on preparing for the leap.

4. I promise you, you’ll never enjoy drafting contracts so much.

You’ll love drafting contracts for yourself and your own business. You know exactly what you want the contract to do, it’s an interesting break from all the other roles you perform, and you’ll be saving vital legal & professional fees.

5. Find a Mentor.

Creating a business is tough. No-one cares about it like you – and if you’re a first-time Entrepreneur, you’ll be learning on the hoof. Try and find someone who has done it before to provide guidance who you can call on a regular basis.

6. Be careful recruiting developers.

If you’re looking to build a tech-startup, and you’re not technical yourself, take care when recruiting your first developer. The world is full of cowboys (just put a pitch on freelancing websites and see what comes back), and the wrong appointment can make or break a startup. I got lucky with a good friend who interviewed candidates for me – but if you can’t build it yourself, you need that trusted adviser to help. Best of all, learn to code yourself!

7. Find a co-founder with different skills.

You don’t need to have a co-founder, but if you decide to go down that route, try and find someone with a different skillset. Better to find a co-founder who can code (it’s tough), who is creative or has a marketing background, to complement your skills – rather than a second lawyer.

8. Use your experience to build your own culture.

Initial recruitments are exciting – you have the opportunity to mould the culture of your business with those first hires. Having come from a traditional work environment at a law-firm, I’m keen to create a more open and lively working environment, and am very aware of this goal when interviewing and recruiting.

9. It might be exciting, but it won’t be easier.

Don’t set up a business if you’re looking for an easier life. You can’t just switch off when you leave the office. You’ll be your own boss, and it’s a rollercoaster – but you’ll never stop obsessing about it.

10. But at least you’ll never have to do timesheets!

No more rules and requirements, and no more dress-codes – just one goal – to grow a business successfully!


What is Escape the City all about then?

Frustrated by climbing the corporate ladder, we decided to build a community to help people build meaningful careers doing work that matters – to them and to the world. We help talented people find fulfilling work by making big career changes, building businesses, & going on big adventures. We’d love you to come with us on this journey.

How do you get involved?

1. Job Seeker? Create an Escape Profile to get matched to exciting jobs.

2. Aspiring Career Changer / Entrepreneur? If you’re in London, come and see us at The Escape School.

3. Want to stay in touch? Subscribe to one of our newsletters. Find us on Facebook or @escthecity.


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