Redundancy – Maybe not the end of life as you know it!

With news everyday of shops and businesses closing and a prediction that unemployment may rise to 3 million I thought that I would share my experience of redundancy with you.

For many, redundancy can be unexpected but I suppose that I was lucky in that I knew several months before that my office was going to close. I worked for a large insurance company and as often happens someone decided to amalgamate two offices into one. I had the choice of moving to Birmingham or London or taking redundancy. After 23 years working for the same company since leaving school I took the brave decision to take redundancy and take a chance working for myself. I’m not quite sure why but I decided that I would do something completly different so I started a travel agency. I knew a bit about travel (I had been to Spain a few times !) and before long I found myself sitting in front of a computer taking phone calls from people wanting cheap holidays and flights. It was a very fast learning curve, but the one thing I knew was that I needed to give the very best customer service. That’s what I had learnt in my previous job and I figured that if my travel knowledge was lacking I could make it up with excellent customer service.

In most jobs you pick up skills that can be used in other businesses so you don’t have to stay in the same line of business as you were in before. Although it is difficult, you have to stay positive and regard the situation as an opportunity to do something different. For most people the loss of income is the main problem when losing their job. The mortgage has to be paid, so the first priority is to get some income coming in. My advice would be to take whatever comes your way as you can always leave, but during that time start to think about what it is that you really want to do.

It’s amazing what can be done just working from home with a computer. I was only reading today that a woman started writing horoscopes for magazines after her husband lost his job. She had always been interested in horoscopes so she started writing and also she knocked on some magazine doors and to her suprise several magazines were interested. She now earns a living writing horoscopes. There is an endless number of opportunities for home workers and if you have an interest in computers and the internet it is relatively easy to set yourself up with a small online business.

It’s always a good idea to think ahead. If you think that there may be a chance of redundancy why not put your toe in the water and start that online business that you always wanted to do and run it in your spare time. If you do that you can guage what the chances of success are and also it gives you a head start in the game.

I didn’t know what to expect running a business, but I was confident that it would work. I booked family and friends and did some advertising and the phone started ringing. After 9 months of working from home, we opened a high street travel agency and then we moved into large spacious offices and employed at its peak about 12 people. Our business grew without really trying but then we hit a brick wall in that the market changed and sales started reducing. Like everything, travel is a very competitive industry and the market has been swamped with start up’s. The big players also sell sometimes below our net price.

Despite the problems I regard it as all part of learning about business and life and I am glad I did it.  There are ups and downs and as the saying goes – Crises happen to everyone, but it’s how you handle them that counts!

Running a business is certainly not boring. You have to live and breath the business and the first few years can mean long hours and family sacrifices. There is no guarantee of success but you won’t know unless you try.

For me redundancy worked out ok, although, of course, that can all change, but it can in any job. Sometimes I wish I had a ‘proper job’ where I didn’t have to worry about doing VAT returns and so on and I sometimes wish I was part of a bigger team, but I am glad I set up on my own and I would do the same if I had to relive that part of my life again.

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