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From Redundancy to Self Employment – A Startup Success Story

Anybody who has ever heard the dreaded “ We are making you redundant” words, knows that fear of the future and what is going to happen next is the one thing that is paramount in your thoughts. Once the initial shock subsides though, one of the best things to do is to view the redundancy as an opportunity – a chance for you to have a fresh start and to create the future that you really want. With the current jobs market being so economically challenging, it is no surprise that more and more people are turning what is a somewhat negative situation into an entirely positive one by creating their own businesses.

We were pleased this week to be able to do a short interview with 2 people who have done exactly that. Stockport based Sharon Edwards and Shelley Garrett set up Quality First Training and Consultancy after both were made redundant.

Quality First Training and Consultancy offers specialist support in all aspects of behaviour and attendance, emotional health and well-being and coaching. Bespoke Consultation and Training is provided to clients including schools, academies and other educational institutions, private and public organisations and individuals. ( For more details, check the site,http://qualityfirst.uk.com/)
So, Sharon and Shelley, how did you first come up with the idea for the business? 

Well, the company was created in response to the changing needs of its three client bases, schools and other educational settings, private and public organisations and individuals.

We have a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise this enables us to support schools and settings to prepare for the changes that are being brought about in new educational policies. The 2011 Education Bill highlights the changing relationship between local authorities and educational settings which will result in local authorities no longer being able to provide specialist teams to offer support and advice, leaving schools and settings responsible for their own continuous improvement and development, but without the help they previously had access to.

Another key area of expertise is securing the emotional health and wider well-being of individuals and teams. Our expertise in this area, which has been recognised and shared nationally, enables us to offer bespoke support to enable schools, settings and other organisations to promote good emotional health and well-being to reduce conflict, stress and absenteeism.

Was redundancy the main motivator in you creating the business, or would you have done it anyway?

We had talked about it many times but giving up well paying jobs was daunting. However when our roles were disestablished due to government and local authority changes and government cuts hit,  the consequential offer of severance packages turned a negative into an opportunity.

What were the biggest issues you faced when you were first starting out?

Having no previous experience of setting up a business or what being self-employed entails – we had to learn quickly!

How did you cope with the transition to self employment after many years being an employee?

Using the 3 R’s – Risk, Resilience and Resourceful. Our previous roles in school improvement meant we always needed to have these skills to respond to a variety of situations in schools, academies and settings in difficult and ever changing times. Setting up in business is certainly developing them! Also the support of friends and family has been a huge help.. We are in contact with other fledgling companies offering complementary educational services and have shared ideas, resources and emotional support.

What advice would you give to someone who has just been made redundant and is possibly considering starting up on their own?

Harness any help that’s on offer – there’s lots out there. We used the Women’s Organisation (www.thewomensorganisation.org.uk) where our advisor is fantastic, but there are others, e.g. Business Link. Also for the long term unemployed there’s the new Enterprise Allowance.

Finally, what are the plans for the future for Quality First?

Whilst most of our work is currently in schools we have transferable skills, e.g. coaching and hope to use these more widely. We would also like to build the business and employ others to work with us.

We’re sure you’ll agree with us when we say that it is really encouraging to hear about stories like this. Yes, we know that redundancy can be a traumatic and stressful time ; however it can actually prove to be the perfect catalyst that is needed to kick-start your life in an entirely different and positive direction. As they say…every cloud….

If at the minute, you are considering setting up your own business, why not check out the Startup section of our website for some more tips and inspiration.

To find out more about TheEmployable & how to get involved in TheEmployable movement please check out http://theemployable.com/how-to-get-involved/


4 Responses to “From Redundancy to Self Employment – A Startup Success Story”

  1. Having been made redundant twice within a year, and with no job prospects in site, I have started up my own business in a very different and competitive market. I have totally changed direction. It is a very scary place to be as I have absolutely no income (my husband is in the same boat) and I am living off the savings i had put by in place of a pension. The question is whether I am able to grow my business sufficiently to provide an income before the savings run out. It would be such a shame to have to abandon my dreams just as they are about to bear fruit. We’ll see.

    Posted by Geraldine Allen (@CaravelaJ) | October 11, 2011, 7:13 pm
    • Good luck Geraldine – I had a look at your website and it looks good and I hope all goes well. Its is worrying when you are relying on your own cash flow to start and keep a business and I wish you all the best. Research to see if there are any small business funds available where you live too.

      Please feel free to follow our feed and also like our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TheEmployable as we will be highlighting funding opportunities that come up whenever possible and we will try to run top tip posts too.

      Make sure you channel your facebook page to your target market – I have a friend that has over 1000 followers for her small (and part time business) but it is run very well and she is building a very good reputation too


      The Employable

      Posted by theemployable | October 11, 2011, 10:13 pm
  2. What an inspirational story! Keep up the good work.

    Posted by Cherry Holahan | October 11, 2011, 9:39 pm

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