As I write this article, I’m celebrating my very own ‘Independence Day’. Twelve years ago today was when I took control of my life and decided that if the corporate world didn’t want me, I didn’t want it either.
The Forces Of Change
When Woolworths closed its doors after almost 100 years of trading, thirty thousand of us lost our jobs. We didn’t get paid until the end of the month, and we certainly didn’t get any redundancy packages.
To add insult to injury, we had our final salary pension scheme go into the pension protection fund the following year. Because I had three months’ notice written into my contract, I thought I was going to be fairly safe.
But what I didn’t realise was that when a company goes into administration, the contract gets torn up – meaning I wasn’t entitled to anything.
Eventually, we managed to sue Woolworths for breach of contract. The company agreed they were at fault and pledged to pay us the compensation we were entitled to – but what they didn’t say in their letters was that we would only receive a ‘penny to the pound’ in compensation.
So, this meant I was given a cheque for the princely sum of £30 – give or take a few pennies.
I’m telling this story to support those of you out there who may be feeling overwhelmed by your current situation. My hope is that my experiences can serve as some kind of inspiration, and help you to believe that if I can recover, you can too.
I have been in a very dark place, but I found that through surrounding yourself with the right support, adopting a positive mindset, and gaining the right knowledge, you can find your way out of the darkness and back up into the light.
What Did I Do?
I decided that I wasn’t going to go back into corporate life. I wanted to take control of my career, but I didn’t know what to do next. I had been an IT Project Manager by profession, and had no interest of going back into contracting.
I think the reason my business never got off the ground while I was still gainfully employed was because it didn’t mean enough to me. Yes, I could perhaps tell the redundancy was coming, and yes, I could see a way out of it, but at the time I lacked motivation since I wasn’t hurting enough. My passion and my drive to achieve simply wasn’t where it needed to be.
Building A New Life
The soul-destroying fortnightly visit to the job centre was torturous. Afterwards, I would meet up with a colleague from a previous job who had also been made redundant. It felt good to talk to someone who understood the challenges I was experiencing.
The first lesson I learned at this time was how important it is to surround yourself with people who are going to help and support you.
This was particularly relevant on the day my former colleague arrived looking more glum than usual. He had just been told that his Jobseeker’s Allowance – the only help we were getting from the government – was ending since his partner was working, so from now on he wasn’t entitled to anything.
That would be me in a month’s time!
The system I had paid into my whole career was not going to help me through the most difficult time of my life. Walking home, I briefly allowed myself to feel victimised, and then decided to take control and re-double my efforts to get my life back.
I looked into a few job options, and one day I ended up chatting to a good friend of mine called Alan. His business was growing, but he had fallen into a common trap – he couldn’t afford to employ anyone.
We agreed that anything he could pay me was more than I was getting, so we worked out an arrangement where I looked after his marketing and got paid on commission.
It was in this role that I first met Nigel Botterill of the Entrepreneurs Circle. It’s interesting how seemingly minor connections and events can all become a key foundation for later life!
While working with Alan, I joined Business Network International (BNI) where I learned a lot about networking and the discipline of rhythmic activity, but the most significant part of joining the organisation was meeting a solicitor who was interested in property.
It was at a BNI Christmas party that we learned you could control property – legally and ethically – without having any of your own money… which was handy as we didn’t have any!
In turn, we were introduced to the Berkshire Property Meet, the Property Investors Network, and to a man named Simon Zutshi. This is when things really got back on track for me.
Running the marketing for a development called Fiveway Apartments led to me, almost full-circle, rediscovering my connection with Nigel Botterill and signing up for his Facebook accelerator course and then becoming a certified Coach for EC.
To help you start 2021 from a solid foundation, I have a gift for all my business owner friends. It’s a free two-month subscription to the Entrepreneurs Circle, worth £198 + VAT.
The Entrepreneurs Circle will change how you think about your business, as it transforms itself in ways which will amaze you!