For shock, read opportunity

Nick Warren has just left South Thames College where he lectured in English before becoming marketing manager. Compulsory redundancy - an inevitable consequence of a merger with the local adult education college - was less of a shock than an opportunity.

"My initial reaction was 'Whoopee - what a huge adventure.' Others said: 'What on earth are you going to do?' with a touch of anxiety in their voice. There was a perception that there's no life outside FE."

But with a working wife and no dependants, the risk was manageable. Nick started by cataloguing his skills, communicating, negotiating, managing budgets, writing, plus a touch of "gift of the gab" He then came up with an action plan and a list of opportunities.

What emerged was the rather amorphous term "education specialist" from which springboard Nick intends to market himself, offering such things as NVQ assessment, management training and marketing, working in partnership with another education specialist. He is intending to develop an import business under his "entrepreneur" hat.

Nick advises people not to put all their eggs in one basket and to diversify, just in case one "egg" does not work out. He also understands the importance of making good contacts and networking.

"Once you decide to become self-employed it's strange how many other people you bump into who have work they can't handle that they want to off-load, " he says. "Instead of my diary being filled with meetings of steering groups and committees, it's now filled with meetings with other consultants in railway cafes and bars. The other day I met someone on Clapham Junction station (not the Clapham Omnibus - but it could have been) who was setting himself up as an NVQ assessor and trainer."

Nick's advice to anyone trembling at the thought of leaving the cloisters of education for the big wide world is to go for it. "Everyone I know who has gone self employed has said that their quality of life has gone up enormously. The main problem is initial cash flow and getting used to selling yourself. "

And finally, a sensible piece of financial advice. "Don't spend all your redundancy money or put it in your bank account where it is accessible. Invest the money where you can't get at it easily. There's nothing quite as motivating as an empty bank account to prevent you sitting around in the house and watching Richard and Judy all morning."

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