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Your commitment will come back to you…

Sue is telling us about redundancy and what happened in her life after an unexpected layoff. I invite you to read the interview.


I have heard that you left the corporation, you set up your own business, and after some time you came back to work in the corporation again. Can you tell us what happened to you?

In July 2012 I parted with my employer unexpectedly because I was subject to a redundancy. For a long time I was looking for employment on websites but it did not bring any results. In the meantime, I improved my professional qualifications. I became a certified internal auditor, however, either I was not invited for interviews, or I could not afford to agree to what they offered me. Some offers were associated with cyclical, weekly business trips, and I am a mother so I was not able to accept these proposals. A year after my layoff I came up with the idea of starting my own business.

What was your motivation?

I felt my uselessness and lack of influence on anything. Unemployment is difficult to bear, especially for a person who worked. In addition, this is a big stress. The idea for the business was an escape from medicines and phobias, an escape from the status of an unemployed person. I started to run the company, however, to tell the truth, I was not well prepared for this. The only thing I was sure of was outsourcing of accounting. I found a person I knew, who kept accounts for me.

What did you do?

I wanted to provide internal audit services. Legal regulations were increasingly recommending to carry out audits so I hoped that I could fill this niche. As a part of running my business, I managed to execute one order. My friend won the tender and I was a subcontractor. I was conducting checks for a month and my work ended with it. At some point, I came to the conclusion that I was losing money. I lost the status of an unemployed person. I paid contributions, taxes but I had no income. I began to wonder what to do, how to actively seek customers and in which direction my company should move. At this point, I received a job offer so I benefited from it with no regrets and I closed my own company.

How long did you run your business?

A short time. From November 2013 to March 2014. Maybe, it was too short to build up the market presence but at the same time it was long enough to feel that setting up of a business and being an entrepreneur mean not only the opportunity for something new but also costs and responsibility.

Did you use any assistance in running your business or writing your business plan?

Before I set up my business I had looked for work intensively, but without effects. I had a conversation with the coach, which made me aware that it was worth taking matters into my own hands. I started my business. I had never reached the stage of writing a business plan. It seemed to me that the intuitive idea that I had in my mind was sufficient for me. I made a mistake because there are some things which you should write down and structure. The written plan binds and obliges. I was lacking the structure, in which I would define financial limits and things to do.

Do you notice any benefits from your experience?

My experience is probably a warning to those who think that the company is an escape from unemployment. In many cases your own business may be a solution to this situation but you need to have a well-prepared plan and a market analysis. The industry, in which I offered my services required absolute confidence. I was external to the company and I had access to all, even sensitive information. The customer had to trust me and believe that I would not use the information against him; I would make good use of it and I would forget it when I left. I was unknown and it was a main factor that was the couse of me not getting any orders.

Can you elaborate on ideas of running your own business? How did you imagine running a business, and what did it look like in reality?

My perfect image was that I would work at home. I would have a desk and a computer. I would bring my children to school. I would come back, sit down and dowhat work I had to do. . After completing my work, I would pick the children up and we would be a happy family. I had a few ideas on what customers I should contact and in spite of efforts and incentives, no contacts came out of this. At first glance, it seemed to me that there was a great opportunity for orders and work, but in fact it did not turn out that way. Indeed, there was the response from entrepreneurs but there were no orders. It was the first unpleasant surprise. I also had the idea to run a risk management training because it turned out that someone had such a need. In this matter despite several emails, preparation of my offer and outline for the training there was no further contact from a potential client. The fact that attempts to make contact with potential clients were not successful broke my reverie of running my own business. I could not overcome this obstacle.

How did you try to make contact with your customers?

I called, sent emails, but I could not reach the stage of a direct meeting. I received either a refusal or a potential interest in my offer, but after the third or fourth contact, which did not lead to any findings I knew it would come to nothing.

Were you looking for outside help in building contacts with customers, building the concept of such contacts?

I made some attempts. I made contact with my former boss because he also lost his job. We had some ideas and common concepts but we never finalized them. We were unable to meet at the same point. Perhaps it was not a good time for this cooperation.

How did you deal with this situation?

It was a difficult time. I was sitting and crying. Fortunately, I can talk about it in the past tense. There is something important what I have not told you about. When I was unemployed I got involved in two major projects, which gave me a reason to function in the environment. I worked in them without any salary, as a volunteer. In both cases, I was giving my time, commitment, skills, knowledge without expecting anything material in return. The projects lasted several months and ultimately it came out that I also benefited from the participation in these projects. I met a lot of new people, my name started to be present in the environment and I stopped being anonymous. I had a chance to show how I work. I owe my current workplace to the person who recommended me. He recommended because he saw how I worked. The fact that I devoted my time and commitment brought me a surprising effect. If I did not go out, I did not open myself, most probably I would not have a current job.

Just like you, I believe that openness and sincere commitment bring amazing results. In my opinion, the real contact with people we meet is a valuable but sometimes undervalued asset.

That is true. When you are unemployed, or when you run a business, and it does not develop, it seems that you are a person in need. But when you make the effort and you will start to give something back, your motivation will come back to you. Among all the things that I have been talking about  with you today, experience is the most important.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

Setting up of the company is not very simple. This step should be preceded by good planning, a few emergency scenarios and clearly defined limits and the point which you are engaged to. I would recommend three things. First of all, you should define the limits in a case of a failure of your business. You should know what point you are trying to convey. I ignored these assumptions. It is important to examine the market and the demand for services, which we are going to offer. You should check how many potential customers there are. And if they are actually customers, or they just seem to us to be. I had the impression that because of the introduction of the statutory regulations there would be a demand for the services I offered, but it was completely different from the reality. You should force yourself to write a business plan. This is a reference point, which helps to avoid disappointment.

What are you proud of?

I am proud of the fact that I did not sit and complain but I tried to do something. Both at the stage of unemployment, as well as at the stage of my business. I had the willingness to act and I did not give up, I did not go to pieces, I did not sink into oblivion.

Is there any thought, especially important that you would like to share with the readers of My cup of stories?

Only metaphorical and grandiloquent things come to my mind.

Go ahead, if they come, it means that they are important.

I think we are the architects of our own fortunes, and it depends on us what they will be like, but we do not have any influence on which direction from and who we will get the material from to work with. It is essential to be open to different perspectives, to other people because it may be completely random or unexpected contribution to the success.

Speaking of the success, I want to ask you a question. What benefits do you notice from the path you were on?

There are plenty of benefits. In spite of unemployment I have developed greatly. I have raised my skills and abilities, mainly thanks to the work on two projects I mentioned. I am a completely different person than I was two years ago. I am convinced that if I had not left the company, if I had not been subject to redundancy, I would not have a chance to develop in such a way. It depends on us whether we draw something positive or not from our experience.

Thank you very much for the interview. I am glad that I could listen to your story. The conversation with you was a great pleasure and a great inspiration.


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