Adventures In Small Business Creation

I am definitely being made redundant: I have trained half a dozen people in the work I do; I have had queries from more than double that regarding other aspects of my current role. That is the transition period in full swing. My final consultation meeting is less than a week away, at time of writing, and the period of my notice which I will be working has been set. Roll on the settlement pay-out.

And with that ending comes the possibility for so many new beginnings. I have spent almost twelve full years in this job, so on one hand I am fairly institutionalised to the concept of working every day.

On another hand entirely, my bank balance is about to be stuffed full of notes, by people who want me to go away, so I have the freedom to do a lot of things I had no idea I would have the freedom to do a few weeks ago. This is a great position to be in, once my puny brain allows me to comprehend it.

I have recently discussed how this led me to consider the thought of retraining as a maths teacher. I know that I have no aptitude for teaching, so that is a bad choice for me and for pupils everywhere. What about the other ideas I have rejected out of fear? Have you noticed the post title, by the way?

My first instinct when faced with the fact that I dislike my job is to log on to the job sites, and to apply for every job which I think would be better than the reason I am not enjoying my job today.

My first instinct when faced with losing my job is to jump in to the first job which will have me, with no thought to the skills required or to the future prospects. I have children to feed: of course I will work on your market stall; I just need to keep the cash rolling in for now. It’s a fear reaction.

The fact of the matter is that I currently have a period of grace. I have no responsibilities to an employer – I don’t have to be at someone else’s beck and call 9 -5, Monday to Friday. And I have a cushion of cash, the comfort of which to make informed decisions from. I need to take a deep breath or two and look at what an incredible opportunity I now have. And how much experience I also have.

The thought of starting a business has always been similar to the thought of taking more exercise: that’s all well and good for other people – people who know what they’re doing – but I can’t do that. Plus I don’t know how to. I once thought all of that about writing a novel; I’ve written six now.

To my mind businesses are precarious things. I walk down our local shopping street, and observe the shops and cafes opening and closing with an air of morbid curiosity: they are the fluid backdrop of the local area. It masks the fact that each of these is a company, founded and run by people; in my mind, each one might be out of business tomorrow, at the behest of one hastily made bad decision.

To my mind, the idea of generating ideas for a business, for finding a gap in the market and then demonstrating that it is possible to exploit that gap for financial gain, is akin to magic. I know that it can actually be taught in school, but I was studying maths instead, high on my own delusion that that was actually the more profitable route through education. I will learn to know better in future.

To my mind we are in, and about to dive further in to, a period of economic uncertainty. Brexit is the all-encompassing term given over to all of this, but there are a lot of questions here that need to be answered. Budgets are frozen, money held back in case it is needed for emergencies; there is less to fritter away supporting new businesses, no matter how good the product they are offering.

I am a firm believer in the idea that we aspire to what we can see around us. A child from a family who have not worked for generations may not to aspire to join the world of work; a child from a family full of different professions and entrepreneurs may have boundless routes before them.

I don’t know how to start a business, so it stops me from imagining doing so. It turns out, however, that I share my life with a woman who does. I forget that all too often, and get quite a shock when I remember. Put all too simply, my Partner designs businesses for a living. She would like to help me.

She suggested it in the car after she picked me up from being told my job was at risk. I was allowed to go home early, and I needed time to think. She picked me up from a random metro station, after she alone had watched our daughter’s sports day – something I will never forgive my employer for.

I dismissed the idea because I thought that it was what other people did, because I could not think of a business idea, because I was too stuck in the panic mode of any job will do. It took more than a week for the thought to come back, albeit by a circuitous route. By which time it felt like my idea.

I am not a market researcher; I am not a data analyst; I am not a publisher of tests and assessments.

I am an expert in surveys; I am an expert in the analysis of survey data, and the production of insight for business leaders; I have more than a decade of experience in designing and analysing satisfaction surveys, and using the results to demonstrate behaviours. That’s the start of a business idea.

I am currently very energised by the thought of starting a business, but I am going to need help. Yes, my partner will always be there to help, but her expertise is not with small businesses. There is help available for that locally. I need to listen to people with experience to see whether my idea is worth exploring; I need to ask experts how to find people to sell to: that’s the big fear of getting going.

I am in a unique position, as far as my life is concerned. I have a huge wealth of experience in a field which I suspect may be profitable; I have the time to explore it; I have a financial cushion with which to explore my ideas without putting my family in to penury. I can either grasp it with both hands, or I can take the first job which will have me, and always be left wondering what could have been.

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