Why redundancy can be the ideal start-up springboard

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Porteous did not have such an easy start with Red Lanyard. For starters, she couldn’t come up with a name for the business.

 

Then came two months “where I had to sit on my hands” while branding and trademarking issues were sorted with the assistance of an IP lawyer.

 

She really only began marketing the business in late November 2011, precisely when the event season ends. Porteous sat tight and persisted.

 

“All I was doing was networking breakfast, lunch and dinner, talking about what I was going to do with Red Lanyard and how I was going to deliver,” she says.

 

By February 2012, clients started planning events again and her patience and networking paid off.

 

She is now trying to figure out how to do all the work that has come in the door.

 

One door closes…

 

Starting their own businesses has been more than a career move for both Porteous and Peck. Both admit to plenty of soul searching.

 

“I realised I wanted a lot of diversity in what I do,” says Peck. “I had got myself to a level of seniority where I saw some questionable behaviours that weren’t really my style.”

 

So Peck traded in a substantial, secure salary and inflexible 8am-7pm working weeks for the freedom of running her own business.

 

Now she has the portfolio career she wanted to create for herself: several board positions, legal consulting work and time to support one of her daughters who is currently studying for VCE.

 

Porteous tested the viability of her business during annual leave while still in her role with the Queensland government.

 

“I earned twice as much doing contract work as I did on a wage,” she says.

 

That got her thinking. She had also gained sector experience volunteering, managing events for a non-profit organisation, mentoring others in event management at Queensland University of Technology, working on the Fostering Executive Women Committee, QUT’s Business Executive Club and working for a contact on a major conference project.

 

Another secret weapon was support from one of QUT’s mentoring programs.

 

Says Porteous: “I have 20 amazing women that I can go to for advice.”

 

While there is a lot of information available on how to write business plans and all the obstacles to small business success, Porteous thinks more support is needed for people whose start-ups quickly take-off.

 

“Everyone talks about ‘what if it doesn’t work?’ But what happens when you get clients straight away?”

 

Porteous already has a part-time staffer just months after launching: “You can crash and burn really quickly.”

 

Going through the redundancy process can be a positive thing.

 

“It’s a chance to reinvent yourself,” Peck says.

 

“I reinvented myself and can recommended it for people who are interested in different lifestyle and career choices.”

 

* Name has been changed.

 

Five top tips to starting up after redundancy

  1. If the redundancy payout is generous enough, put aside time for pure business development/client relationships without the need to be earning income – build this into your business plan.
  2. Just because you have a lump sum, don’t get slack. Stick to the ethos – keep your overheads low and give yourself a chance to grow.
  3. Make sure you are not starting a business to avoid being made redundant again. Seek honest feedback on your state of mind.
  4. Network like crazy.
  5. Make the most of this brilliant opportunity.
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