On January 10th 1998 at 2.30pm, my phone rang and I was summoned to the HR director’s office by her PA, an unusual event. I was ushered into her office to find her and my sales director awaiting me and I knew, absolutely knew, that my very long career in Duty Free retail was about to come to an abrupt end.

I was right, they showered me with platitudes and inane comments and told me that effective immediately, my role as GM was redundant and as such, I was superfluous to requirement!

I would receive three months of outplacement counselling and had the use of the company vehicle for that time, but otherwise; “Nick off furry feet, we don’t want you anymore!” My counsellor was waiting for me in my office when I got back there.

If you are facing corporate rendundancy, outplacement was and is helpful, but it wasn’t going to help me replace my high flying, high paying job. You see, I left school at 15 and worked my way up through a long career to earn my post nominal; QBE...Qualified By Experience!

At 47, I couldn’t compete with the 25 to 30 year old MBAs and other graduates who were applying for the same roles and being interviewed by other young ‘propeller heads’ to whom 40 was ancient and 45 was in the grave!

After numerous non-productive applications and interviews and with money running out and my ego bent out of shape, I needed to take drastic action just to survive. Clearly I was going to have to look after myself and my family by generating my own income/job, so that is what I set out to do.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business startup section.

It’s easy to start a business, you register a structure, decide what you want to do and go out and find some people to do it for and then get paid for doing. How hard can that be? Well, there’s five steps outlined above but as you all know (and I do, too, now) there’s a million little details between the steps that determine success.

Some of my biggest mistakes were in client acquisition and then getting paid for services delivered. I rarely had difficulty with service delivery and I’m passionate about customer service so the ‘operational/production’ side of my business worked really well. I just struggled to sell myself and then ask for payment for the work done so well and as for asking for referrals, well, that would be just way too forward.

Well, here we are 10 years later and despite all the above, I’m still in business, and actually doing quite well in spite of all the false starts. In 1998 there weren’t quite as many sources of help and support as are available now and even if there had been, I’m not sure my ego would have sought them out.

My biggest mistake was not asking for help, so please accept this coaching – it’s okay to ask for advice, it’s okay to admit you don’t know it all and there are mentors out there, ready, willing and able to support you.

Even now I still get down at times and need a little bit of support and indulgence and am really grateful for the network of like-minded individuals I’ve built over the last few years and they’re reciprocal relationships that work.

I’d encourage you to keep motivated by following Flying Solo plus joining organistions like Business Masterminds and your local Business Enterprise Centre can be helpful.

You don’t have to do it solo!

Were you forced into flying solo? Or perhaps you’re facing corporate redundancy and wondering whether now is the time to go it alone. Tell us about your situation via a comment.

“ It’s okay to ask for advice, it’s okay to admit you don’t know it all and there are mentors out there, ready, willing and able to support you. ”
 
Jack Fraenkel

Jack Fraenkel is a business improver and people developer with a flair for customer service who passionately believes that service intensive companies tend to invest in employee success first.

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