Be-Your-Own-Boss-masthead

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


Senior IT manager to self-employed Google AdWords guru

Entrepreneur: David Rothwell
Background:
Went from £60,000 salary to £0 overnight after being laid off as a European Information Services Manager in 2001

Founded:
Consultancy firm David Rothwell (also a published author and conference speaker)

“I was laid off after a 20-year career in IT from a senior management role which meant I was both experienced and expensive.

“The dotcom crash at that time closely followed by 9/11 meant there were hundreds of people chasing every IT job going and although I applied for many and was prepared to take a more junior position at less pay no-one was prepared to even interview me.

“I spent well over a year trying to get back into IT without success, so I had to think of something else.

“I realised the only way to create money for myself was by going out there”

“In my career, I had very successfully started up new departments and functions from nothing and hired staff, so I became more confident I could create something new for myself rather than an employer.

“I realised the only way to create money for myself was by going out there and doing anything at all, no matter what, that would pay me money, any amount of it.

“I was doing manual jobs part of the time and I also wanted to offer my experience as an IT and Telecom manager to small and medium local businesses in our area in a freelance or consulting basis.

“I really had no clue how to best go about it though, so I ended up doing a few of the traditional things like newspaper ads and email marketing. Ads were a total failure. I bought a small part of a bigger email list from a marketing company and was very selective about the kind of businesses I was going to email. I expected some addresses were out of date and about a third were.

“From what I had read at that point about marketing it seemed like you could expect a 1% “conversion rate” of email to getting a lead. I had about a thousand names so I was hopeful to get about 10 leads from it. I only ended up getting one! (0.1% conversion rate, pretty bad). However, they interviewed me and I got a regular day a week work then for a couple of years looking after their IT network and telecoms.

“I then realised that it was crucial to have a website and show up on Google when people look. I built a website from scratch but had no clue how to get it showing up in search results. Then by accident I discovered Google AdWords, tried it, and saw my ads almost instantly. It was revolutionary!

“I played with it a bit to start with then got more seriously interested it as I saw how powerful it was. It was also a fascinating environment and very technical, right up my street. As I got better at it I realised I had accidentally learned a valuable skill that others would both need and find hard, as I had to start with.

“Being from a technical support background I decided to try offering this service to other businesses literally around the world since I could do it from my bedroom.

“My first client was a lady in real estate in Houston Texas. She asked me how much I charged and I had to think of a number ($100 a month). Then I had to figure out how to take the money off her (my first PayPal account in 2005).

“From there I knew it was just a matter of time to get more clients and make more money from this service.”

David’s advice for starting a business from redundancy:

  • Advertise your services. There are many freelancer websites where you can offer your time and perform a valuable service and get paid, for clients all over the world. Even if you’re only a little bit better than they are, they will pay you money to save their time and get work done. You can get paid to learn and improve on what you can do.
  • Do something you know and like, find easy and has value to others.
  • Try and find a way to make what you offer a recurring service so you don’t have to hustle for every single new customer all the time. If you can help people in their business make more money from what you provide, you’ll have a job for life.
  • Go to business libraries, trade shows, conferences, exhibitions and get to know people and be known by others. Offer value for what you do and prove it.

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.