I have never understood people who weren’t scared to death of losing their jobs. Maybe I have met too many people who were struggling to make ends meet, or maybe I have read too many stories of people who lost it all after losing one of their three jobs. For some, a job loss may be a traumatic event; for others, who might feel more prepared, it is the perfect opportunity to turn things around.
“There is always something good in change,” says Roy Helayel, a Dubai-based project manager with a software engineering background. “It all depends on how we can make use of a situation.” Helayel lost his job in August 2016, found another one a month later, and worked on personal projects in between. “Losing my job helped me evaluate whether I could dedicate myself to my startups or not.” It turned out he couldn’t for financial reasons, but the “time off” changed his mindset: “It made me realize the importance of being a successful entrepreneur, as opposed to a successful employee who can always lose his job.”
The thought of losing your employment hanging over your head like a sword of Damocles is shared by many. Michael Estephan, a chef in Lagos, Nigeria, believes that fear comes with the job: “There is no permanent position; if you’re an employee, you’re at risk.” Estephan lost his chef position due to workforce reduction and was therefore expecting it- but that doesn’t mean he was prepared. “One thing is for sure, I was stressed. I thought I’d settle back home in Lebanon, but that didn’t work out, so I came back to open my own restaurant.” Even when he was still an employee, or maybe because of his employee status and Nigeria’s harsh economic situation making it even harder for entrepreneurs, Estephan was “always looking for better opportunities.”
In a similar manner, Helayel used to work on personal projects in his spare time while still an employee, having already launched a startup with three other co-founders in 2015, but he says being a full-time employee left him “little room to develop my ideas. The comfort in working a decent pay job gave me less motive to take risks. The termination reminded me that regular employment would always put me in a position of need and dependency.” In between jobs, Helayel focused on setting a plan with a clear timeline, one that would hopefully allow him to quit his full-time position and instead become a full-time entrepreneur.
After his job loss, Estephan tried to go back to Lebanon to run a restaurant with his brother-in-law. He then worked as a private chef, before opening and unfortunately closing his restaurant. Now, he has finally found an employment that uses his skills, and brings him fulfillment as well, while waiting for the right time to open his own venture. Both Estephan and Helayel kept busy in between jobs, which is what allowed them to live the experience in the most peaceful way. Both used recruitment platforms to apply as aggressively as possible: Estephan tried several paths to find his new role, while Helayel started a Project Management certification (PMP) and focused on his startup ideas.
Even though they each followed a different direction after their job loss, they both found a silver lining instead of the sword of Damocles. They both have a desire for entrepreneurship, and it took losing their job and finding a better one to realize that their timing wasn’t right.