Redundancy is sometimes half expected, but it can also come right out of the blue, and either way it can be pretty devastating to you personally. No matter how well prepared you think you might be, it can cripple your self-confidence, and introduce a major element of uncertainty into your life, particularly with respect to finances.
Where to start
First, find out where you stand financially, because benefits or tax credits can be a minefield. Even if you have a large redundancy settlement, you may find you eat through that quite fast. Seek professional advice here; the Citizens Advice Bureau is a good, friendly source. You need to be sure that there are no surprises waiting for you just as you are starting to develop your ideas.
You then need to consider what you can offer potential customers, and this is where you need to start looking at your skills and qualifications. Consider your work skills first, and see how these can be transferred to different working situations, but do not discount any skills you have developed through hobbies and interests.
What can you offer?
The subject of transferable skills is pretty substantial. A good and long-established method is to look at your transferable skills in the following categories:
- Data skills. Working with information of all sorts, and including computer skills.
- People skills. Working with people in all manner of ways.
- Things skills. Working with machines or hand tools. It also includes growing things and working with animals.
- Ideas and design skills. Matters such as music and literature, but also CAD.
If you have worked in a business for several years you may become aware of gaps in the market that are not adequately serviced. One man with a young family was laid off from an outdoor equipment retailer. He felt the provision of outdoor footwear for children was pretty poor, and decided to open a small specialist shop to address that particular niche. Similarly, a former NHS employee has used her skills as a physiotherapist to offer a range of activities to consumers that are also purchased by social services.
Practical steps for self employment after redundancy
1. Understand what you can offer to potential customers. Look at all your skills and break them down on the basis of data, people, things and ideas.
2. Analyse these skills, and see which ones you would most like to use. Self-employment can be pretty demanding (and demoralising at times), and it helps if you are doing something you really enjoy.
3. Check your finances and seek outside advice.
4. Look at a range of opportunities and get background business information. This could reveal some extra complications like legal requirements, or qualifications that you might need to trade effectively.
5. Consider who might use the sort of skills you have developed at work, and if they are still in demand with existing organisations.
6. Could those skills appeal to consumers?
7. Do you think your expertise will be needed again, once the changes and economies in the public sector have settled down? Organisations may well be prepared to use self-employed consultants instead of taking on employees.
8. If you choose the consultancy route, be prepared to develop your own range of new scenarios. You are the expert, and a harrassed manager might welcome a soundly-based proposal that solves a pressing problem.
9. Consider using skills built up over years with hobbies or interests. But again, check the requirements of the business.
10. Now start to plan your business and learn essential business skills.
© Cobweb Information 2011