Founder of Find My Sexpert talks about starting an online business after redundancy
Francine Sharrocks is the founder of Find My Sexpert. She shares her story of starting an online business after redundancy…
I was previoulsy working as a Grant Co-ordinator for a Charity. My role was to create grant programmes and distribute grant money to grassroots community groups around Greater Manchester. It was a highly rewarding job that I loved very much and took great pride in. I built many wonderful relationships. Many people trusted me and would often come to me for advice and support. Although I loved my day to day work and my relationships with my staff team were great, my relationship with my direct line manager was not. With advice from a senior member of staff I nervously invoked the Bullying Procedure. I felt fully reassured I was doing the right thing at the time.
However, from here work completely changed. Six months after taking my line manager through the bullying procedure, I was hit out of the blue with a letter on my desk. I was now part of a disciplinary action. It was for using the office telephone to call a free (0800) phone landline number.
I was devastated. I combed through our staff handbook to counter act my managers claims. My meetings which were all lead by my line manager and I was denied representation. There were no other impartial opinions or persons present. It was very clear that this process was payback. What was a perfect job and work environment for me became a nightmare. I was told I lacked integrity which was devastating. Eventually, after a long and almost daily battle, my GP signed me off sick. While off sick I received my redundancy letter. Again, another process that come out of the blue. My role at the charity was no longer 9 to 5. Eventually, I was replaced by an old friend of my line manager who could work the new part time role.
I was very hurt; it was a very painful and personal process. The most frustrating was that I was in a process that I was never going to win. I had no representation, no support and my voice was not being heard. Redundancy for me felt like another opportunity for the continuation of bullying.
A helping hand
Then came along the best and most amazing change. My brother asked me to meet him at Morrisons Caffe one afternoon, he wanted to have the ‘older brother chat.’ I wasn’t expecting what he would say. He asked me to write down a list of jobs I’d love to do, from your normal every day to anything wild and whacky that I’d like to have a go at. He then said you can move in with us (him and my sister in law) for 6 months while I get back on my feet and decided what I really want to do with my life next. What a guy!
This was a complete blessing as I could no longer afford to stay in my current apartment. However, at the age of 29 and after being self-sufficient for so long it was a difficult move to start all over again. Many a time I felt my life was moving backwards.
Finding my place
I moved, I lived with my Brother and Sister-in-law for the full 6 months and I retrained as a Certified Sexological Bodyworker. I worked shifts at a Homeless Women’s Unit to keep some money flowing and remarkably within 8 months of becoming redundant I was running my own business supporting people with their sex lives. The top dream job from the list my brother had made me write. This business thrived for 3 years and I supported hundreds of men struggling with their marriages, relationship and sex lives.
Starting an online business after redundancy
When I met my husband in 2016 moved in with him and I had to rethink my work. Having already experienced the painful redundancy and the dramatic changes three years prior, I had the confidence to challenge myself further. So, I began to build my second business, this time as a limited company.
The idea for Find My Sexpert was obvious. In my work as a Sex Coach there was never anywhere for me to advertise my services, certainly nowhere where my skills, experience and knowledge was showcased properly and all the time clients would say to me this work should be more readily available. The two problems seemed easily solved by creating a central point where real certified sexpert’s could showcase their experience and where the public could access them with ease! It was a no brainer as they say.
I now run Find My Sexpert. It is the first global advertising platform for all certified sexuality professionals. A sexual Wellness platform where individuals can find credible, certified and experienced professionals and their events worldwide.
My role now is great, I am the boss and I answer to nobody. I don’t have any staff as the business is young but I have amazing working relationships which I have cultivated to be some of the most supportive and loyal relationships. I am doing what I love the most, helping people in many ways I am doing exactly what I was doing at the charity – allowing people to thrive.
I’m mainly inspired by optimistic, realistic and fair people. I hate unjust situations and I dislike confrontation and upset so for me I always like to give people an opportunity to be heard. Conversation is good and most things can be fixed through being open enough to listen (listening to understand not to give a response to). I like Simon Sinek’s views on running an infinite business. You look to always better yourself rather than running in competition with something or someone. I am also inspired by my old manager in how not to be and I do thank her and appreciate the lessons I learned.
My main challenge is that we are the first platform of this kind globally. There are no others so we are really trailblazing, especially in a topic that many people consider taboo. Much of what I’m doing is trial and error. So, there is no room to be rigid in business. Self-evaluation and continuous evaluation of your work is a necessity. There are no certainties, you have to be ready to roll with what comes. Some things work some things don’t. You can’t let the things that don’t work get you down. Stay optimistic and be prepared to make big decisions quickly.
I now juggle Find My Sexpert platform and all the day to day activities with being a stay at home mummy. I have a 1 and 2-year-old so it’s great fun trying to fit everything in. Sometimes things get done and other times they don’t. You really do learn the skill of being flexible when you’re at home with children.
I have two main projects I’m currently working on. First, a UK TV adverting campaign with Sky Television. We are looking to change advertising standards BCAP codes so that Sexuality Support Services can be aired on UK television. If we manage to achieve this it will be the first time Sexuality Support Services have been aired on UK television!
Secondly, we are in the process of creating an awareness week. International Sexpert Week will be when we can bring to life our business core values of Collaborate, Celebrate and Educate.
Advice For Anyone Facing Redundancy right Now
Redundancy may feel personal, it may feel upsetting, disheartening and any other negative word you wish to throw in but I can tell you redundancy will give you the shakeup you need to recognise your true worth and value. You can use your skills and talents in other places. There is something better round the corner. Yes it may be hard work, lots of effort and sacrifice but the learning and outcome will be worth it!
My mother always says it’s not that we are scared to fail, but that we are scared of our own brilliance. I wish you well on your journey to brilliance.
If you are inspired by Francine’s story of starting an online business after redundancy you can visit Find My Sexpert here.
If you would like to be coached around starting an online business after redundancy, join our members’ club here.