A wide-eyed trainee, full of ambition and dreams of partnership, I felt like a real little hot-shot after I landed a top training contract and started my career in the City.
Four years on, I now find that I’m a puffy-eyed 2 year qualified, devoid of ambition or motivation and with dreams of escaping the rat race and the world of partnership, billable hours and due diligence.
Yes, I still manage to be good at my job and pretend to be interested, but underneath it all I’ve come to realise the harsh reality that if I’m going to realise even half of my natural potential, I need to leave the law.
What do I spend all day doing? Preparing documents. Reviewing documents. Chasing documents. Talking to (and sometimes arguing with) other lawyers who are doing exactly the same, just on the other side of the same coin. Making sure the right amount of money goes to the right place at the right time. And then if I’m a very lucky boy, I might even get the chance to prepare a report about the contents of some other documents.
I now realise I’m effectively just a glamourised admin assistant for my clients (although its anything but glamorous).
They’re the ones doing the exciting deals and making the real money, and I’m just running around behind the scenes dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s. I’m no-where near where all the real action happens, where there’s real excitement that you're about to land yourself a big pot of cash or really achieve something special. Near the coalface? I’m not even vaguely in the vicinity. Granted, I feel like I’m scrambling around in the dark all day, and it can get very hot, sweaty and unpleasant at times, but that’s about as close as I get to being at the coalface.
I work hard all month long, only to see the same amount plop into my account on pay-day. Yes, there’s much to be said for a reliable, steady income. Yes, there are bonuses if you work hard enough. And yes, I have relative job security and good benefits. But where’s the buzz of going for the big pay-day, the chance of making millions? Where’s the passion? Where’s the excitement of achieving something that you can point to and say “Look! I did that!”?
I suppose if I stick it out long enough, my salary will go up gradually and I could end up on a decent amount. But it is so regimented, so predictable, so...uninspiring.
Ok, doing a good job as a lawyer is something people should rightly feel proud of, but at the end of the day, it’s a service industry – I’m just serving someone else. Just helping out. I’m helping to make other people richer and more successful. I wonder how much easier it would be getting out of bed in the morning if I had the chance of making myself richer that very day? Making a real mark on the world, and not just helping others make their mark?
In the end it all got too much for me and I decided to quit. I got sick of working for someone else. I got sick of running around for the partners and stressing about appraisals and hoping for a pay rise.
I had other interests, lots of ideas, business ideas that got me excited, got the juices flowing and the blood pumping, made the old passion and enthusiasm resurface again – I loved the idea of going it alone – setting up a business, building it up to be successful, achieving something meaningful with my life and doing what I’ve always dreamed of, rather than something everyone told me would be a good thing to do and I just hoped that I would enjoy.
Yes, it would be hard work, but I’m working hard anyway and at least this would be directly for my own personal, immediate benefit.
But then there’s my 250 grand mortgage, my other loans, commitments and outgoings. Not to mention the looming prospect of trying for kids and saving for a new house. It’s too much of a risk to jack it all in, surely? Absolute madness infact. I’m safe where I am. I’m earning decent money. I can’t risk the mortgage. I’ll just stick it out. Ok, so I’ll be fairly miserable, but at least it’s safe. I can work my way up, just hang in there. Pray that I get good appraisals and payrises and just hope that one day, I’ll have saved enough to retire. It’s just too risky – after all, what if my idea turns out to be more Gerald Ratner than Richard Branson?
But then I realised, as long as I could research my idea, make sure that it’s actually a good idea and would fill a genuine gap in the market (sometimes there’s a gap in the market for good reason – there’s no market in the gap!), then the whole thing would be so much less risky. And if I could get a business plan together and even maybe secure a bit of funding, well, it would almost be do-able! It was at this point I started fantasising about how I would hand in my notice, how much money I could make, how much I would actually enjoy working for myself and following my passion.
I started to investigate, but there’s only so much you can achieve just randomly surfing the net. I needed some help. So I turned to Inventya – a business consultancy who would normally charge thousands to help businesses research and develop their ideas to ultimately determine whether the idea is feasible, how best to research and develop it, and how best to take the idea to market.
However, Inventya have recently developed some clever market research software known as “i2m” (‘ideas to market’) that enables you to do all of that yourself and even submit your business idea to an ideas bank, accessed by over 1,500 potential investors looking for a good business idea to invest in.
The software is not very expensive – there’s even a free taster on the website – and at the end of the day, I’m only risking a few quid, rather than my entire mortgage. If once I’d finished using the software I had realised that my rat-race escaping idea was not so hot after all, it wouldnt have cost me very much to find out and I could have breathed a sigh of relief that I didn’t just jack it in and go for it (and I could then have just used it again to evaluate the next big idea that popped into my head).
But I actually realised that my idea was a genuine cracker, and so now it’s time to hand in that notice, burn my files, and take a deep breath and make that leap!
Wish me luck!