Ten Ideas About Making Redundancy Packages Work
One of the things I really enjoy about markets are the times when I get to talk with interesting new people that I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet normally. It’s happened a few times lately and the conversation has come around to finding ways to explore a new life, a new path for work and living. Part of the reason I have these conversations is because I’ve successfully made this happen. I’ve left the corporate world and now have a self-sustaining creative business. Another reason is it’s always fascinating to find out what people are doing and how they are enjoying what’s in their lives.
From conversations last weekend I’ve got to thinking there are more people around at the moment who have taken payout packages and have the opportunity to look around their lives with an interested eye, to assess what’s happening, consider what they would like in their lives and compare the two. This gives the chance to see if there’s something different that they want in life.
I know for me I started looking at my life when a family member was gravely ill and I was facing questions of mortality and what’s important in life. I realised I didn’t want to stay working in those four walls, I wanted to try something different. I knew I had a series of highly employable skills to fall back on if needed and I had the support of a family that knew it was more important to give things a go than to simply let life pass you by. So I gave something new ago and it’s all worked out. So note, it can only be successful if you give it a go.
But where to start is one of the most daunting challenges of changing your life. So I thought sharing 10 ideas and experiences would be a helpful:
1. If you have the opportunity to take a placement program as part of a redundancy package grab it with both hands and do as many things as possible with them – from aptitude tests to various classes and lectures, discussions with physiologists and career advisors to working through any exercise programs designed to clearly identify your interests, strengths, weaknesses, potential and how your current skills transfer across industries and roles.
2. If this service isn’t offered as part of your payout package try finding out if something similar is possible, what programs are being offered by government agencies in your area – look at all levels of government particularly as different governments have been putting money into this area with the financial crisis. In NSW the Business Enterprise Centres (BECs) often have a range of interesting services, most of the services are focused on starting a new business, some services are about exploring what is possible and best suited for you and they can be really good at helping connect with government funding services. When I was starting up my business I didn’t qualify for their help but a friend went through their programs a couple years later and found them amazingly helpful and beneficial. So be ready to explore what services are available from a local, state and federal government level.
3. Look at how long your payout will support you and your household. Be realistic and sensible with this analysis because finding yourself strapped for cash is a really negative experience that can often (although now always) be avoided. Maybe look to getting some part time work to help either reduce any risks or extend the time out of your traditional employment if you’re finding hard to get back in or want to explore something different. There are a growing number of part time jobs, especially over summer ranging from those advertised in shop windows, heard about on the friend and family grapevine, on websites like Gumtree, listed in the papers or found on interesting websites. You can make some handy money from working part time for small businesses doing things from writing blog posts to making stock to selling at market to filling orders. A part time job can bring in extra money while giving you time to explore more.
4. When a part time job is what suits you try going for ones in the fields you’re interested in exploring so you can get an insider’s point of view. When I finished university I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do so I did a series of temp jobs in different industries, in various roles and got to check things out. I discovered the work cultures I liked and didn’t like, was offered roles that kept opening doors. It was by giving things a go that I got to find out what worked for me and what didn’t – both with people, work and money. The temping gave me the opportunity to move round and explore. Part time and temping work can give you the same freedom and experience. If you’re looking to start your own business then working with a series of small businesses will give you the chance to see what’s it really like, whether it is something you want to do and how do make it really work (and also how to stuff it up). This gives you the chance to learn from other’s experience.
5. Another way to gain experience is to do some work experience. It doesn’t matter how old you are, it matters that you’re prepared to work and add value. What you get back is insight, experience, mentoring, exposure and networking. All small businesses always have a heap of jobs put off to the side that need doing, all growing small businesses have projects that need an extra pair of hands to get off the ground and happening. I know I certainly do. Most small businesses simply don’t have the cash flow to be employing someone regularly to be doing all of this. So when offered a helping hand it is often too good an offer to refuse. Work experience roles usually aren’t about the exciting part of things like hands on input in designing the next season range of party dresses but a smart small business owner will take the chance to use the help to make a money earning project fully operational – a great opening for learning for you. How much would you pay to listen to a successful business owner sharing her experiences in a presentation? Would you be willing to trade labour for knowledge? I would and have. Just be sure that when you’re agreeing to work experience it is understood what makes up the deal on both sides. If you’re offering to work then be sure to work, not sit and pick their brain. If you’re after their advice and experience be certain that this is understood and they are willing to share (although they’ll keep their trade secrets to themselves so expect this).
6. If you want to include work experience hours in your week figure out how many you want or can do. It could suit a business to have you in for 6 – 8 hours a day, one day a week for 4 – 6 weeks. Or it might be a solid, regular 40 hour week – maybe for one to four weeks. So have a think about what you can afford to do with which business and be ready to be flexible. For a business like mine that trades Saturday and Sunday the regular work week has a lot more flexibility in it. Monday’s are my slow days. Sure work gets done but at a slower pace that fits around domestic and personal activities. I have a work experience helper set for part time help over the summer and we’ve outlined what’s involved by discussing what’s possible and needed by both of us. It needs to be a win/win and approached with an open mind. It won’t work if someone is feeling used or taken advantage of, it must be rewarding overall for all involved. Open, clear communication is important.
7. There are a series of ways of finding people you want to work with gain experience and knowledge. I’ve been approached by email and directly at market. Friends of mine have been called and emailed. The people who have found us have been looking around in the fields they are interested in by looking at websites, getting a feel for the business and the person behind it. You can also join online forums and seek out people who sound interesting and have businesses in things that interest you. Once you’re involved in a group and you put it out there that you’re exploring and wanting to learn. People generally really enjoy talking about what they do and how they made it happen. It’s always by giving things a go. To find the groups and forums Google the subject and +forum, eg. Business +forum and click your own country’s results.
8. Join network groups so you can meet more people and make opportunities happen. Be friendly and willing to talk. Don’t worry if you haven’t a business in mind, we’ve all started from somewhere. Only a few know exactly what they want and how they’re going to do it, most (9 out of 10) have had to explore to discover. You’ll get more credibility for being willing to explore than you ever can by not getting out there. Look to joining women business groups initially and take it from there. Get involved in some online forums and asking what they think are good network groups will really help identify them and narrow them down.
9. Something I wish I had more time for now and had done more of in my preparation time was reading and researching. I’m grateful for reading books like ‘The E-Myth’ by Michael Gerber, ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, books about setting up a small business in Australia etc. I needed to have taken notes and read more. I had the time to read and study a book a week but I didn’t take it – I didn’t realise how important it was. You can find great books at libraries, get recommended reading lists from online forums and Amazon and support other local small businesses by buying books from independent bookshops. I’d avoid spending big bucks on high profile speakers as it’s a quick way to go through your money and you can find most of their advice either free online or in their books in the library.
10. Be sensible about spending money on training programs, presentations, courses etc. It is really easy to sign up for big events, spend a bundle of dollars and come away motivated by not really achieving anything. Spend the money on things you know about and a soundly judge rather than going for the highly effective spin marketing of the fancy events. If you’re going to spend $5,000 or $20,000 what do you want back from it – really – what do you expect to get for that money because it should be an awful lot. How far would that money go on something like a life or business coach over a year with constant advice and support? A long way. Again, if you’re seriously looking at spending a chunk of money then get advice from others in forums and those in the industry.
A payout package can be one of the best things that can happen in life with the opportunities it offers. So spend some time exploring what’s possible and learning from others. Be ready to ask and discover. Don’t worry about ‘stupid questions’ because they don’t exist and remember that everyone who is making something happen have come from a standing start. We’ve all had to learn, we’ve all made mistakes and the only wasteful mistakes are those that haven’t had their lessons learnt. If you admire someone for their business they’ve built reach out to them, find out what would benefit them and seek to make a trade with them for their time, knowledge and experience for the thing you can offer for their benefit. Be Bold! Remember, Fortune favours the bold!
Need some ideas on what you have to trade?
IT background – help a small business with their technical questions – do they need a website, what about making a form for their website to make running a competition easy or getting a blog going?
Management background – often creative business owners are great at creating and envisioning but not so hot with organizing effect business systems that make their daily life easier but management stars can help with setting up solutions that are effective and pretty self-reliant.
Sales background – many designers and creative types are fantastic at conceptualising and crap at selling – they’re introverts while sales requires extraverts – so helping them with sales – doing and training – can be a real bonus.
Engineering background – so you’re great with details and structure – perfect for most small businesses, help them get practical projects that have been in limbo up and going.
Writer – blog writing a set number of pieces to create content makes a real difference. There are always flyers, press releases and web content that needs writing too.
Accounting background – helping getting the books neat and tidy really makes a difference, so too can business modeling and financial planning, including a annual calendar of financial commitments to help look after cash flow.
Any background: stocktaking, sorting stock, general business administration tasks, getting work rooms neat and tidy again etc.