Former head of Web and information governance at Lincolnshire County Council (LCC), Peter Barton proves that life goes on after redundancy.
Barton worked for 12 years at LCC before he was made redundant in November 2010 along with another 30 members of staff — costing £1.9 million.
But he has now set up an internet company selling high-end children’s toys on an e-commerce website, and is encouraging people to use the skills and expertise they were hired for the council to be proactive and possibly set up a business of their own.
Barton said: “Getting a monthly salary is like taking drugs, as you feel you have to have it. Once you get rid of the addiction there’s a whole new set of possibilities, such as the rewards of making £50 or £500 and knowing it is yours.”
With an itinerant career history, including working as a business adviser helping start-ups of East Lindsey District Council, Barton is used to finding new challenges, but stresses to others that there are no secrets to business.
“Commerce is all about sales, so you don’t need to spend thousands setting up a company, if you can find a market. If you think you aren’t a salesperson then how did you get your job as you needed to sell yourself,” he said.
Uniting anyone who has left LCC, Barton has set up a private support network called Life After LCC, which aims to provide advice or lend a listening ear.
Set up less than a month ago, the group now has 30 followers including an ex-assistant director along with accountants and web and IT experts helping each other.
Identifying a market for high-quality children’s toys, amongst grandparents and parents with a disposable income, or even students who have cousins and an interest in design, Barton homed his skill set to a new project.
Despite not developing the website himself, he has applied his knowledge from managing the County Council’s web information to running an internet business called Pour Les Enfants.
With an environmentally friendly angle, Pour Les Enfants imports high quality toys from France, Denmark and as far as the Far East with the mission statement of providing environmentally friendly education and enjoyment.
Only one toy in the range is made from plastic, with others using renewable materials such as bamboo, which is plentiful (actually being a grass, not wood), strong and stylish.
Barton’s story is yet another example of entrepreneurship boosting Lincoln’s economy and local trading, also using a local illustrator for his company.