Birmingham & Black Country

The Coventry lecturer who practices what he preached

James Brennan director of Ramp and Wrench
Image caption James Brennan came up with the idea for Ramp and Wrench while chatting to his mates in the pub

Former college business lecturer James Brennan had fallen out of love with his profession and was facing redundancy in July.

A self-confessed "average Joe", he had a mortgage to pay, a family to support and credit card bills to service.

Three months later he was running his own DIY car and bike servicing garage, stemming from his life-long love of motorsports.

The 37-year-old from Coventry is among an increasing number of people who are using redundancy pay-outs to fund their own start-up companies.

Mr Brennan said: "I wasn't happy doing what I had been doing. The kids were great, everything in the classroom, that was brilliant.

"It was the rest of it; the paperwork and the politics, after nine years it made me want to leave the industry."

During a boy's night out in a pub in Leicester, he hatched a plan to run his own business hiring out his garage and tools for people to service their own cars.

He said: "I told them that I was applying for voluntary redundancy and we started talking about what I should do next and knocking around a few ideas.

'Supportive family'

"Initially there were some niggling doubts, was I doing the right thing. I still don't know.

Image caption The Federation of Small Businesses is receiving more calls about start-ups, Karen Woolley said

"I'm not a rich man but I'm trying to put into practice what I used to teach. I always thought I would run my own business sometime in the future. Redundancy gave me the push I needed and the capital to do it.

"I'm breaking even but I'm not paying myself a wage yet. Luckily I have a very supportive family around me and hopefully this will take off."

Specialist business insurer Hiscox suggests that 17% of small businesses in 2011 were set up following one or more of their owners being made redundant.

Karen Woolley, a development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "More people are calling us for advice in setting up their own business.

"There are a lot of redundancies, particularly in the public sector and a lot of people with good ideas who have an entrepreneurial spirit.

"We are telling them to be sensible, be grounded and have a good business plan.

"If they are having difficulty getting back into employment, this could be just what they need."

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