How to use Covid-19 redundancy to your advantage

Tim Harris is MD of the ChipsAway, Ovenclean & Barking Mad brands, owned by Franchise Brands since their acquisition in 2008. Below is some advice on how to use redundancy as an opportunity and how to manage the change mentally to ensure you look after your wellbeing during this difficult adjustment.

Covid-19 and the lockdown has triggered a recession to the economy that was already turbulent for so many UK SMEs. Some sectors – travel and hospitality – have been hit worse than others, but due to the lockdown and concerns for a second wave, a swift decline in consumer confidence and spending means that many sectors are suffering and this has led to a wave of redundancies.

Redundancy provides many with the headspace and time out from the normal hectic routine to start thinking like an entrepreneur. For many, it will be the push they needed to venture into self-employment. For others, who want the reassurance of continual lead generation and the support of a head office function franchising bridges the gap. Regardless of the route people take, often they don’t know where to start.

1. Accept that redundancy is out of your control

Whenever you meet someone new, you’re usually asked ‘what do you do for a living?’. Being made redundant creates a loss of identity, or a sense of low self-value. You don’t want to be the person who says, ‘I’m currently out of work’, especially if the situation was completely out of your control.

In the short-term future at least, because of coronavirus, hearing this is going to become very normal; there is zero shame to losing your job because of a pandemic. Not being able to provide for your family is a daunting prospect, and that’s why many who are made redundant have a knee-jerk reaction and jump straight into a new job – and any job, at that. Usually, it’s one that makes them feel even less valued, and they find themselves back in the rat race.

Covid-19 will present a new challenge, though.

2. Criticise and compliment yourself

Doing so requires an honest, upfront self-audit. Look at yourself from the outside in; what at your practical and emotional skills? Perhaps you’re good with numbers or you work well outdoors; maybe you’re trustworthy, great with people or a natural problem solver. Also think about the things you aren’t good at. Not everyone is organised, so too much admin is a big no-no; others hate having to deal with IT, while many don’t know if they’d be able to manage a team.

3. Prioritise your mental health

Financial hardship at home causes a lot of anxiety. Money worries are a major disruptor, and anyone made redundant – during the pandemic or not – will be concerned about where their next pay packet is coming from. During this Covid-19 era, there is then the additional pressure on our mental health from being frightened of an invisible threat and until a vaccine is formed, there will be very little confidence amongst many employers to take on new, full time staff. As a result, there will be a natural increase in self-employment.

Starting a new business is stressful; it will test your strengths and weaknesses, and there are pitfalls you won’t have even considered until you live through them. As such, it’s essential you make allowances every single day, to prioritise your mental health. Without it, your business will suffer and the feeling of low self-value you experienced when made redundant will seep back in. It’s a vicious cycle.

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