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Why redundancy might be the start of something beautiful

by Helen Aldous

Now I want to say right from the start that I’m not making light of the horrible trauma of getting laid off. I’ve been there more than once and its not pleasant.

I know first hand the gut wrenching feeling of getting called into the bosses office at an odd time in the morning when you just know something is wrong because he won’t look you in the eye and all the things that you need to pay for, house, car, kids flash before your eyes and you think “What the hell am I going to do?” I’ve been in that position and it is truly horrible. Then you go home with your little box of stuff from your desk and cry into your wine and wonder why they didn’t like you enough to keep you on. It’s a stressful and confidence sapping experience.

But having said that, being made redundant CAN be one of the best things to ever happen to a creative person because it shakes you out of your comfort zone.

When you work in a nice place it can be like a comfy pair of slippers. You know what you need to do workwise. You go in, you get it done, you chat to your colleague about the last episode of Lost and flirt with the guy in the IT department and at the end of the month a nice secure dollop of money appears in your bank account. Excellent.

When you get bored around 3pm you will probably start to think about selling a bit of work on Etsy or how great it would be if you could make a living selling your paintings, but the comfort of your situation means you won’t do much about it, and its frighteningly easy to coast along like this for years. You don’t really need to try to do anything about your creative dream because nothing bad will happen if you don’t. That dollop of money will still appear and the bills will get paid. You are missing one of the major ingredients that can help you set up a successful creative business. Positive Fear.

Positive Fear comes when you step outside your comfort zone. Positive fear is not the energy sapping, panicky sweaty 3am kind of fear. It is the kind of fear that sharpens your brain and focusses your goals and makes you think “Right. I need to get this working or no one will be paying the mortgage. Lets do it!.” Fear is not your enemy. It can be your friend and an extremely useful motivator towards your creative goals.

Nothing of any great importance usually happens within your comfort zone. To achieve stuff you generally need to be outside it and sometimes your boss rudely shoving you out can be the first step on the path to great and exciting new things.

So if redundancy looms it might just be the time to become a full time artist, sell your crafts at fairs or on the internet, or work on developing your sculpture business. You have the time and the motivation and focus to make it work.

If you think there’s a good chance of redundancy looming on the horizon, start preparing now.

  • Start to formulate a plan for if it happens. Think about your options, what you love doing and if any of it would make a viable business.
  • Make stock. Start to prepare by getting a body of work together ready for sale.
  • Start researching into where you could sell your work. Could you sell at local craft fairs? Through shops, on the internet. Do you need to start setting up a website now?
  • Start networking and meeting people that might be able to help you and your creative business. Use online social networking as well as making contacts in your creative community.
  • Start creating a name and brand for your business
  • On the more mundane side, check all your financial out goings and see what you could downscale for now. If you can get by on a little less for a few months it will take the pressure off as your business may take a while to start generating money.
    Martin Lews, Money saving expert has a great online budget calculator here

If you have just been made redundant.

  • Remember that it’s not personal, it’s just economics Don’t let it upset you or knock your confidence.
  • Take a day off to let yourself recover and watch some rubbish daytime TV.
  • Then pick yourself up and focus on what you really want to do with your life from now on. Do you want another job or do you want to do something different?
  • Check if you have redundancy cover included in any of your insurance policies [say to cover your mortgage]
  • Find out what grants or training might be available to you. You should be eligible for help and advice which will make the journey of setting up on your own a lot smoother.
    In the UK, Business link have a great selection of useful information about starting up in business here
  • Take stock of your creative talents and what you love doing.
  • Start planning your creative dream business

So when the boss calls you in to the office at that odd time of the morning its not the end, its the beginning of something new and exciting. Embrace the fear and jump. You might look back in 5 years and realise that this was a wonderful pivotal moment in your life.

Ps I was last made redundant in the Dot Com crash in 2001, have worked for myself ever since and would never ever go back. Plus I’m still friends with my old boss too. Result

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