It was just over five years ago when my job of 13 years came up against the threat of redundancy.
I was working for RBS during the middle of dark(er) times of banking and through the global redundancies, our building was shedding departments almost monthly.
When it came to my team’s turn, I was given a letter explaining that my role was being ‘pooled’. It meant that I could put my name into a pool with everyone else at my level and a predetermined number of us would be safe from the threat of redundancy. I duly filled out my form, avoiding the box stating ‘voluntary redundancy’ and ticking the box ‘consider me for pooling’, put it in the envelope provided and sealed it. I left it on my desk ready to put in the internal post that was positioned roughly two desks away.
I left it sitting on my desk for the next few weeks.
On the last day on which it had to be posted I picked up the envelope and for the first time paused to think about my decision. After 13 years in the same company, with the same people, doing more or less the same job, I’d become a tiny bit institutionalised – it was all I knew of work and I felt that my options were few. By this time, though I’d grown to hate my job and the company.
I was always the first into the office so I sat on my own holding the envelope and wondering why I had requested pooling. It suddenly occurred to me that I could leave, become self-employed, get a different job, do something else. It was great – instantly a world of possibilities outside of that office became visible.
I’d start my own business.
I’d already done a few things, it seemed obvious. I quickly thought about how I could market myself and get business and decided in those 30 seconds that it was viable. I felt exhilarated. So I did what all liberated women do and rang my dad. Dad is the voice of sense and reason and I thought that he would talk me down from my minutes-old decision and back into the sensible choice to stay at RBS. And he said ‘yeah, do it – best thing I ever did’.
I hung up and phoned my husband who is the other half of the financial backing of our little family and who would be able to stress upon me what a scary thing it was that I was considering and that I hadn’t thought it through properly and he said ‘I think it’s a great idea, do it’.
It was five years ago today that I officially started smellyrabbit. And it’s been great. I’m not going to pretend it’s all amazing and humbling and worthy – being self-employed is sometimes gruelling, scary, tiring and on occasion, really average but it is fantastic to work for yourself, create your own identity and style, work around your children and your life and do what you love doing every day. Asking for voluntary redundancy was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made and I’m extremely happy to be here five years later celebrating.