Goodwill can come your way if you start your own business, says Legal Cheek founder Alex Aldridge
“There’s a lot of support for entrepreneurs in society: there’s a kind of ‘force’ which is there … that wants to foster new stuff,” says Alex Aldridge, founder and publisher of Legal Cheek: “Goodwill comes your way.”
Speaking to David Burgess, head of media law practice Reviewed & Cleared, in the latest episode of the Legal Entrepreneurs Podcast, Aldridge reveals how he took Legal Cheek from an obscure blog to a busy law news site, moving from his kitchen table and “not having to get dressed in the morning” to a staff of six, bucking the negative trend in journalism.
Aldridge says he feels “born again” with his own business, leaving law and mainstream legal journalism behind. But, he says, steering his own ship is also “really gritty”, there isn’t a light bulb moment when it all becomes clear: “It’s small victories which you grind out. There are terrible spells, when you wake up in the morning and think: what the hell am I doing?”
There’s a lot of excitement and freedom to running your own show, Aldridge believes, and reveals how building up the site “totally changed my life” not least because “I realised I could save a lot of time not being hungover. Loads of people are limited by alcohol. The psychological effect of hangovers is important, it drags people down.” If you run your own business, “you want a clear head”.
Once a start-up has gained a foothold, there’s no time for complacency, observes Aldridge. He says “you have to keep clients happy” but “you also have to take risks”. He adopts an analogy that had once been given to him:
“If you get to an airport, say, twenty times, and you are catching every flight on time and you aren’t missing a flight, then you are getting to the airport too early. You need to operate on a bit of an edge.”
Aldridge believes lawyers can “definitely be entrepreneurial” despite the lawyer mindset which is “worrying about the detail of things”. But that mindset does, in part, explain why in pure percentage terms there are fewer entrepreneur-lawyers than in other professions or sectors.
That mindset is not the only barrier. Aldridge points to the fact that lawyers can and do tend to “earn a lot of money” and take on financial responsibilities which makes starting something from scratch that much more of a gamble. With newly-qualifieds earning £80,000 upwards: “what also traps a lawyer in is the money they are earning.”