I started grown up life as a solicitor in the 1980s with one of the UK’s top City law firms. Successful lawyers are generally quite unpopular in our society. The public regards City solicitors, with some justification, as elitist and overpaid. But there’s nothing like a good legal training for developing a critical eye. I have a Bull Shit detector which can smell nonsense a mile away, which is a great skill to have when someone comes to you with a new business proposition.
In the early 1990s I left the legal profession to run GEC plc’s project finance division. GEC was then the largest industrial company in the UK making everything from washing machines to avionics. My job was to finance the big ticket projects. Working inside a large corporate like GEC offered a great training in the rudiments of management and a valuable insight into how large organisations work, both the good and the bad. Really invaluable experience if you’re setting up a small business to compete with larger, more established, competitors.