Worried workers seek advice on becoming own boss as furlough frays nerves

Alex Till, chief executive of Menta.
Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Alex Till, chief executive of Menta - Credit: Archant

A business support organisation operating across Suffolk and Norfolk has seen a big spike in worried workers seeking advice on how to go freelance.

Menta says it saw an 18% rise in the last three months of 2020 as furloughed workers sought business coaching to enable them to make the jump to self-employed if they need to.

It said the enquiries were coming from employees who have been furloughed and workers worried about their job security looking at how they would make the jump into self-employment.

"They are looking for support in business planning and requiring upskilling support in areas," explained chief executive Alex Till.

"The spike shows the preparation that some are making ahead of what is expected to be another challenging year and a readiness to adapt ahead of any redundancy news."

Employees across East Anglia - particularly from those working in Norwich and Ipswich in financial services, design and sales and marketing - were wanting information on how to become their own boss, as were leisure and hospitality employees based in holiday hotspots such as north Norfolk and East Suffolk, he said.

Menta has added a register of consultants to give those seeking help some one-to-one guidance on business plans and options as it bolsters its offer in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and the fears about job security it has unleashed.

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"The consultancy register includes a wide-reaching field of business experts with a proven track record of business execution and success," said Mr Till.   

"Overall, we are supporting a far more experienced client that in many cases will have been employed for most of their working lives. In many cases they have not previously required business coaching or advice. 

"We have adapted to this need with a wider intake of business coach and sector wide expertise."

There were positives to the current situation, he said, as people came up with new business ideas and diversifications.

Menta's package of support includes business planning templates, advice, marketing support and training as well as insights and training to bookkeeping, taxation and business grants and loans.

It is delivered free of charge across live video workshops and funded by the European Regional Development Fund to residents of Norfolk and Suffolk. But the funded programme ends in August this year.

John Neild, who leads the Menta training programmes, said: "We are seeing highly experienced individuals with many years of business expertise choosing our package of support as they move or consider the move from being an employee to being their own boss and our support is designed to prepare the individual for the inevitable changes, not just in the processes of running your own business but the mindset and the disciplines, as well as the benefits."

To find out more about what's on offer, visit here