Unsure about the security of your job? Could becoming your own boss be the answer? Shirley Hermiston, Business Support Manager at the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC), explains how the pandemic is inspiring a new wave of entrepreneurship from those who might not otherwise have considered going it alone.
Over the past 27 years we’ve helped hundreds of people from all walks of life to start all kinds of businesses. The one thing that they all had in common was their willingness to take risks. To a greater or lesser extent, they all clearly enjoyed stepping out of their comfort zone.
Their chief motivation for going it alone would be spotting a gap in the market or an opportunity they could exploit. A chance to do something better or an idea they wanted to bring to life.
Things are a little different now.
Since the pandemic, our team of start-up business advisers have noticed a shift in the motivation of those wanting to become their own boss. New personal circumstances brought about by the pandemic mean many are considering moving to self-employment out of necessity rather than a burning desire to become the next Lord Sugar.
Some people have unfortunately lost their jobs, some have been made redundant or are living in fear of it, while others, such as construction workers, tutors, and those working in professional services and creative industries have realised that self-employment gives them the best chance of ensuring an income for the future.
The good news is that even if you’re not a natural risk taker you can make a great job of working for yourself, with the right support and a willingness to learn some new things. It is possible to go from redundancy to running the show.
We have plenty of great examples on our books of people who’re making a success of self-employment after losing their jobs in the past and are now doing everything from dog walking and running shops to setting up engineering businesses.
If I could get one message to anyone considering self-employment right now it would be to get some advice from those you can trust as soon as you can. This will give you the best possible chance of success.
If you’re facing redundancy, don’t wait for it to happen before making plans or testing out ideas. If you’ve already lost your job ask your Job Centre about the New Enterprise Allowance Programme which is designed to help those unemployed transition to becoming their own boss with mentoring whilst still in receipt of benefits. Once trading there is a small allowance paid too.
Here at the BIC, our Start-Up Team can provide free, independent advice. We’re a bunch of experienced, realistic and empathetic professionals who take seriously our responsibility to support the region’s business community. We help people assess if they’re suited to self-employment, identify any skills gaps and check that their business idea is viable because we genuinely want the best for them.
We’ve adapted our service to cope with the pandemic and the needs of those considering self-employment for the reasons mentioned above. We can explore ways to dip your toe in the water without taking a major leap if that feels more comfortable – for example, by helping you start a side hustle to earn money from something you love doing alongside your regular job.