Calling military spouses, partners and military leavers:
Ever thought about...
- Starting a business – on your own or with friends?
- Earning money from a hobby or creative talent?
- Going self-employed or freelance?
- Resurrecting your career – but with you in charge?
The Salisbury Plain 'super-garrison' area is already home to many soldiers and their families and this is set to increase by several thousand more as Army basing plans take effect. Many choose to settle in the area after leaving the service.
Becoming your own boss is one of the top ten choices for military leavers looking for new careers – and in Wiltshire, The Enterprise Network is supporting forces personnel, and their partners, to do just that.
A series of free Be Your Own Boss coffee morning-style events funded by TEN and run by Wiltshire Business Support Service attracted 60+ military spouses/partners and military leavers. The events were kept informal and welcoming, with free childcare available. They were targeted at people who may have had a spark of a business idea, or wanted to resurrect their career or were thinking about going self-employed.
Although the Be Your Own Boss events have now finished, contact The Enterprise Network now to see how we can help you get your business off the ground: 01264 848311
The Enterprise Network is keen to support military leavers and military partners looking to launch or develop a business idea in Swindon and Wiltshire
The Enterprise Network (TEN) is using EU and Government funds to offer free, impartial, business start-up support and advice and grants as well as launching four Enterprise Centres including one just two miles from Tidworth in the Salisbury Plain.
The Enterprise Centres offer new, affordable office space (just £50 per desk/week, all inclusive) alongside hot desks, meeting and training rooms and 'virtual office' services - perfect for start-up businesses, or enterprises ready to grow.
Proud of our military connections
Jane Scott, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: "We're proud to be a military county and we recognise the economic value of having service personnel living and working in Wiltshire.
"The Be Your Own Boss events provided an excellent springboard to help inspire service leavers and partners of military personnel to launch their own business ideas with expert support and advice."
The Enterprise Network is particularly pleased to support women entrepreneurs, military personnel and their partners and dependents who want to launch or develop a business. A series of free networking events for women in business has been launched and is proving very popular.
The Enterprise Network initiative is led by Wiltshire Council supported by a range of organisations including the Military Civilian Integration Partnership and 1st Artillery Brigade & South West 1st Artillery Brigade & South West (formerly 43 Wessex Brigade)
Funders include Wiltshire Council, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Government Equalities Office and the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).
TEN makes Armed Forces Covenant Committment
The Enterprise Network became the 165th organisation to adopt the Armed Forces Covenant in the South West, among the 1,100 businesses who have already made their pledges across the UK.
The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise from the nation, ensuring that those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly.
Meet local service leavers and service partners who have launched successful businesses:
Mel came up with her business idea while stationed at Bulford in Wiltshire with husband Shane – a driver in the Royal Signals.
The business Isobel's Boutique came from her love of vintage dresses. "I'm really short with a big bust so I could never find clothes to fit me," she says. "Then I discovered vintage dresses and they really suited me – and that's where I got the idea for the business."
Setting up a traditional high street shop was out of the question given the transitory nature of military life. "So far in the past year we have moved three times, so selling my dresses online is ideal.
"There's always the possibility that I might have to move again – with the military you have to take each day as it comes. But even if we suddenly gets a posting in Cyprus, I can carry on running my business."
Mel, 43 welcomes the Be Your Own Boss events for military spouses and partners. "There's a lot of demand for self-employed work among military wives - a lot of us become franchise reps selling beauty products.
"But I wanted to do something I really enjoy and have a passion for. And the great thing is, the business can go wherever I go."
Michelle set up her successful dog grooming salon Divine Dogs at home seven years ago. The following year she won runner-up Business of the Year in the Wiltshire Life Awards and her salon has since gone from strength to strength.
She welcomes The Enterprise Network's Be Your Own Boss events – she knows how challenging it can be turning your own passion or a spark of an idea into a viable business.
"If you're thinking of going self-employed or starting your own business, it can be really daunting taking that first step. There is so much involved so it's always a good idea to make the most of business support when it's available."
After 14 years in the Royal Artillery, Michelle from Durrington in Wiltshire decided to train and qualify as a dog groomer.
"I knew I wanted to work with animals and I've always loved dogs," she says. "But I was leaving behind the security of earning a monthly wage in the Army and just starting from nothing.
"There was so much initial work involved, from finding the right kind of training, to the equipment I needed, to researching my own unique selling point in my locality.
"Then there's all the behind-the-scenes admin like insurance and tax paperwork and I constantly have to keep up with my training and the latest on dog grooming.
"There are definitely pros and cons. You are your own boss, which is an amazing feeling – but there are other factors to consider, such as not getting paid for sickness or holidays.
"But I absolutely love it. I've got continuous bookings and my business is expanding - and I just love the satisfaction of knowing that this is all mine and I've built it up myself."
Julie from Old Sarum in Wiltshire founded her leadership coaching business JH Transforming Performance in 2013.
She also juggles her work with being a mother-of two and an Army spouse – husband Ronnie is a Squadron Sergeant Major with the Royal Engineers at Perham Down in Wiltshire.
Going self-employed has allowed her to make the most of her skills and experience, while also giving her more flexibility for family life.
"I love being master of my own destiny," she says. "I know that if I fail, I fail – but if I succeed, that's all mine. And I can choose how and when I work."
After starting her career in manufacturing engineering, Julie spent 16 years with Hertfordshire Constabulary and reached the rank of Inspector.
"I was really happy as a police officer," she says. "When I went back to work after having children I realised I had a wealth of skills and experience in leadership development, and that I could be my own boss."
Julie, aged 44, specialises in working with businesses that are just on the cusp of expansion. "As soon as a business starts taking on staff, it takes it to a whole new level. So I focus on helping people who want to develop their business to become great leaders."
She believes business support is vital to anyone starting out. "So many people could do something with their skills and they don't even know it. They don't know what they've got, and that's where good advice and support really comes into its own."
Going self-employed after 22 years serving in the military was a huge leap of faith: "I did learn a number of lessons the hard way," she says.
"One thing I learned is that whether you're serving or whether you're a military spouse, you often underestimate the skills you have, your own organisational abilities and your resourcefulness.
"Every time you move, you almost have to do a SWOT analysis – what you need to sustain your family, to set up home, to sort out suitable childcare and to make the most of the job opportunities available.
"It involves being organised, good time management, the ability to engage successfully with people from different backgrounds and often from different cultures. And all of these are transferrable skills."
Using skills and experience gained as a training and development officer with the RAF, Louise, aged 52, from Chippenham in Wiltshire, set up Louise Carver Consulting as a limited company in 2009.
She works with individuals and organisations specialising in leadership and management development, personal effectiveness and team building, as well as being a qualified mediator who helps resolve workplace conflict.
As well as having a past career as a serving officer, Louise is also a mother of two teenagers and has been married to the military, so she understands the pressures.
"The number of times my husband was sent off somewhere at short notice, and suddenly you have to start rearranging everything.
"And it's the same with running a business – you have to cope with a great deal of uncertainty, to plan for a number of possible outcomes, and you have to be able to adapt very quickly."
"These days, there's no more security in working for someone else than in giving your own enterprising skills free rein," he says. "I'd urge anyone leaving the forces who is keen to be their own boss to give it a go – what have they got to lose?"
A surveillance and reconnaissance specialist, Sean, aged 31, left the Army in 2006 and spent five years as head of IT and Communications with Aegis Defence Services in Iraq.
For Kristen has built up a highly successful – and rapidly expanding – international specialist healthcare recruitment consultancy, Staff Medical Ltd, recruiting nurses across Europe to work in the UK. And she does it all from the family quarters at Tidworth.
"Your partner is the main breadwinner, you are in quarters with all the support you need: you have nothing to lose," she says. "Even with inevitable childcare challenges, if you run your own business, you can fit your work around the children. That's one of the best things about being your own boss, you set the rules; you create your own dreams because you aren't reliant on anyone else.
"If you have a business idea, there's lots of help in Wiltshire to turn that into reality; and if your partner's military job is under threat, knowing there's a second income can really take the pressure off."
For Kristen, the power of the internet is key to her business success. "It means I can work anywhere, and at any time. It's the ultimate in flexible working."
Setting up a web-based business could be the perfect solution for military wives, she adds.
"If my husband Tristan was to move from Tidworth, all my work is done on the Cloud; I can run my business from anywhere.
"Of course, running your own business means a lot of juggling and spinning of plates – and it's certainly not 9 'til 5, but it is hugely satisfying. Military wives know what it is like to manage on their own – stepping up into running a business just needs a great idea and a bit of confidence that you can do it.
"My advice would be for military wives who have a great business idea to make the most of the support and help available through The Enterprise Network which has Government and European money to help them to do just that, including free expert advice and grants. There's really nothing to lose in taking your idea to the next stage!"
Kristen has also launched Insignia Global Partners a new international business – recruiting ex-Army Royal Green Jacket David Joseph as its UK division MD – setting up the UK's first independent nursing training academy to help meet the growing demand for qualified staff.
"We are short of 50,000 nurses in the UK, so we will be bringing people in from across Europe and training them to meet that massive demand," said Kristen. "And my business all started with a phone, a notebook and pencil, working from family quarters!"
"If you have a business idea, there's lots of help in Wiltshire through The Enterprise Network to turn that into reality; and if your partner's military job is under threat, knowing there's a second income can really take the pressure off. Military wives know what it is like to manage on their own – stepping up into running a business just needs a great idea and a bit of confidence that you can do it. My advice would be to make the most of the support and help available through The Enterprise Network in Wiltshire."
Now the former Royal Army Medical Corps nurse who also spent 22 years as a police officer has launched his own home care business, Totally Living Care Ltd in Salisbury.
"I was shocked at what I saw when I was investigating care homes, care companies and even family members who abused the trust of their relatives," says Andy. "I knew I could do so much better.
"I'm determined to set the very highest standards to help people remain independent in their own homes for as long as possible, with personalised support to meet their needs," he says.
Andy became the first business tenant at The Enterprise Network's Old Fire Station Enterprise Centre in Salt Lane, Salisbury.
He received the advice and support he needed to set up a business through the New Enterprise Allowance scheme, including a start-up loan – and then he heard about the new Enterprise Centre for start-up and growing small businesses.
"Having your own office is such a major step forward for any new business – and it gets me out from under my wife's feet at home!" he adds.
Ex-regular soldier John Kelly, a transport expert and combat medic in transport regiments, and wife Lynn, a physiotherapist and logistics officer with a particular insight into the healthcare issues faced by drivers, launched their new business on the back of a lifetime's experience gained through their careers.
Now they are offering their support to professional lorry, bus and coach drivers looking for essential qualifications and expert advice about how to avoid work-related healthcare issues, such as repetitive strain, poor manual handling and accidents. John and Lynn are both Army Reservists in their spare time, and moved to Royal Wootton Bassett from Surrey a year ago with their two daughters. They initially set up their new business, Huntmill Transport Training, from home, and were looking for training rooms to rent.
"We offer a wide range of training for professional drivers, including the Driver CPC certificate which anyone wanting to drive a lorry or bus must now have, and the ADR certificate to cover driving dangerous goods such as petrol, explosives and gases. This was proving so popular, we extended our training to include First Aid and Manual Handling qualifications – but we needed training rooms," said John.