A bespoke programme of coaching and modular services designed to enable senior executives to leave their place of employment and launch their skills independently through their own consultancy.

Funded by the individual or the company they are leaving.  It has clear benefits for both sides:

The company:

  • A flexible option for senior talent while managing cost and retaining access to knowledge
  • Frees career pathway for younger talent
  • Creates brand ambassadors

The employee:

  • Returns more control over work/life balance
  • A flexible alternative to the hard-stop of retirement
  • Delays the requirement to access pension

The story behind Fly Solo®

When I left Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide in 2004 I knew I’d be obsessed with getting Shimmin Communications off the ground. Headcorn aerodrome was 4 miles up the road and to keep some balance I decided to act on a long-held desire to upgrade my dormant paragliding hobby to fixed wing. I learned to fly alongside launching the business in 2005.

On briefing my first solo, my instructor said it would be ‘as if he was still in the cockpit’. I would imagine him reminding me what to do at crucial points in the circuit. He was right. It went smoothly and I landed elated at achieving a big milestone in a lifelong process of learning about aviation.

Fly Solo® offers a similar style of support for senior executives considering going out on their own…either towards the end of their career or earlier as I did.

I’ve run Shimmin Communications since December 2004 (www.shimmin.com) after a decade with Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.  I’ve learned a huge amount about what it takes to motivate yourself to find, win, serve and impress clients so they come back for more.  In 2015 I launched my coaching practice after gaining Henley Business School’s Professional Certificate in Coaching. I enjoy coaching a number of executives across multiple industries and regularly come into contact with HR directors of major brands. They see Fly Solo® as an interesting alternative for senior executives with numerous benefits for the company:

  • Ad-hoc access to huge accumulated knowledge is retained.
  • Headcount cost is reduced and morphed into a flexible resource.
  • Career pathways for more junior executives are opened up.
  • When exit is necessitated by cost, executives become brand ambassadors rather than detractors.

Helping people take more control of their life in these days of lengthening retirement horizons is a passion of mine.  We only get one circuit in life.  Fly Solo® helps individuals make the most of it.

For the Individual

The challenge

“I have highly marketable skills but I know my seniority makes me expensive so I’m working harder than ever to justify that cost.  Being cash rich and time poor makes me crave a better work/life balance but I’m neither ready nor able to stop work completely.  I want to continue to feel valued but work more on my terms.  I’d like to explore working for myself.”

Go/no-go decision:

  • Psychology. We provide a psychological assessment with a business psychologist to see how you might cope with working alone after a career supported by a large organisation. Insight and psychometrics inform the decision and subsequent coaching. Meet psychologist Adrian Bassett here
  • Business case. How strong is your offering? We’ll assess if it will achieve your financial and lifestyle objectives.
  • Income. A process to assess what income is necessary and achievable?

Creating a strong offer:

  • Selling strengths. Coaching to identify what you do best and packaging that in a compelling offer.
  • Pricing. Often the hardest nut to crack. A process to help decide what the market will bear and linked to your financial/lifestyle objectives.
  • Targeting. Making sense of your contacts list and devising a strategy to approach them with your offer. If funded by your company, Fly Solo® will help you negotiate which clients/contacts can be approached.
  • Marketing. Access to a modular process assisting with the creation of websites, branding, materials, etc.

Ongoing coaching:

  • Support. This is a big transition that can take time to adjust to. A programme of supportive coaching from Rob Shimmin and if required, Henley Business School qualified coaches who have ‘been there’ and started their own business. 

For the company

The challenge

“When senior talent exits the business, a huge accumulation of knowledge and expertise leaves with it.  I wish there was a way to bank the reduced headcount cost but retain ad-hoc access to all that knowledge. I’d like to consider a programme that offers an alternative way of working as retirement approaches.  One that harnesses skills in a more flexible way while providing better work/life balance.  Get this right and we’ll open more opportunities for younger executives as well as being seen as an attractive employer with smart alternative options for our most senior team.”

Ground rules:

  • Equality Act, 2010. A key concern is for this offering to be regarded in the right light – as an alternative option for senior staff and in complete compliance with the Equality Act.
  • Control. Individuals benefitting from a company sponsored Fly Solo® programme agree ‘off limit’ clients identified as direct competitors.

Company-wide programme:

  • The offer. Every company has differing needs linked by some common realities. Fly Solo will work with the company to create a policy or offer that is made available to senior staff.
  • Opt-in. To achieve compliance with the Equality Act of 2010, this will be provided as an opt-in option rather than a sell from the company.
  • Awareness building. An internal communication programme including materials and seminars to explain the option to Fly Solo to senior executives.

Individual cases:

  • Retention. Where a valued senior executive has expressed a desire to retire or depart to a less time-demanding role outside the company. Fly Solo® is tailored to deliver against the employee’s needs while retaining access to his or her knowledge on an ad-hoc basis.
  • Required. If finances require a reduction in senior headcount, Fly Solo® offers an alternative to expensive and often reputationally damaging options. Managed correctly, Fly Solo can offer benefits to both sides.

The programme:

  • Individual or company-wide, the modular coaching process is explained here

Meet Adrian Bassett: Business psychologist

Fly Solo® partners with Adrian Bassett, a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.  His role is to help executives take the step to ‘flying solo’ with  their eyes open.

Assessing your suitability to fly solo

• Participants complete psychometric testing proven to predict entrepreneurial characteristics.
• Results will be explored during a detailed 1:1 session with business psychologist Adrian Bassett.

Guiding future coaching

• Adrian’s profiling helps individuals to identify the personal challenges and the likely stress points they will face in setting up and running a business.
• The insights guide coaches with their ongoing coaching. The focus is on building strengths and making weaknesses manageable.

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