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Made redundant? Struggling with unemployment? Starting a business could be the answer

According to AXA, a third of UK start-ups were born from redundancy or unemployment. Get inspired to be your own boss by the people who turned career misfortune into start-up success


Bank manager to ice cream man

Entrepreneur: Darren Whyman
Background:
Made redundant as a bank manager five years ago
Founded:
Manx Whippy

“When you work for a company for so long you feel institutionalised and fear the unknown.

“This feeling meant that, whilst working in an employed position, I had never foreseen redundancy so never considered self-employment. However, after you recover from the initial shock your mind starts to evaluate your options.

“I had never foreseen redundancy so never considered self-employment”

“I felt like I wanted a complete change. I also wanted to use my redundancy package to help build something via the self-employed route, to enable a lifestyle change.

“The ‘fear’ that comes from being institutionalised is in my view a myth, as when you have taken the leap of faith you quickly come to realise the extent of the transferable skills that you can employ to harness your own business.

“I brainstormed a number of business ideas with a fellow manager who was also going through the redundancy process. One idea in particular excited me and merited follow-up. The real acid test was the reaction of my wife, Louise, who luckily was equally as optimistic about the prospect.


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“So, after months of research and planning Manx Whippy was born.”

“When I bought the ice cream van the previous owner was very helpful and encouraging, but in essence I had only 60 minutes training in how to run an ice cream van/business to equip me to move from senior management in banking to perfecting a 99!

“And the greatest challenge has undoubtedly been moving into an environment where you have to be totally versatile and flex your skills. Gone are the office meetings or teleconferences, with activity now ranging from rigorous cleaning to dismantling machinery, and of course serving all of my lovely customers.

“I feel privileged having moved out of the corporate world to now doing a job I love where effectively I get paid for making people happy – no one ever comes to an ice cream van without a smile on their face!”

Darren’s advice for starting a business from redundancy:

  • Redundancy often provides a notice period. Use this time wisely. You can never do too much research or planning. For example, consider whether you need to attend training in your new venture or alternatively take a qualification to support your change of direction.
  • Explore the availability of grants to support your business, I applied for the micro-business grant run by the Isle of Man Department for Enterprise, which also enabled me to pick up some really useful information on setting up a business.  I would say you should also examine and understand the competitors in your chosen market – what can you learn from them? How can you be better?
  • Confide in others you can trust and brainstorm ideas, but to also take care to retain confidentiality, especially if your idea or opportunity is a new one.
  • Once you are set on your vision throw everything at it and devote yourself to its success.
  • Learn to love learning: Unlike the perhaps ‘safe’ employed position, when you are self-employed every minute of every day is dedicated to you and your future – I never stop learning and always aspire to do better tomorrow.

You don’t have to beat the odds on your own. With the help of AXA Business Insurance, you can get a level of business protection that’s right for you. So, you can focus on executing your vision and building a legacy to be proud of.