News: Drone Defence joins entrepreneurship programme, Heropreneurs joins Cobseo

July has been a busy month for Heropreneurs, with the usual networking events, business advice and support for service leavers remaining at the forefront of what we do.

But we have also welcomed Drone Defence, experts in the operation of the commercially available UAV and drone technology, to our mentoring programme.

We will work alongside this excellent business, which gives advice on how to counter and react to unwanted drone incursions, to develop, nurture and offer support where we can.

In other news, Heropreneurs recently became a member of the Confederation of Service Charities, better known as Cobseo, which helps promote and further the welfare and general interests of the Armed Forces Community.

We hope this will help us spread the word of our services and keep those interested informed of our monthly gatherings and the sort of support we offer.

You can sign up to our next networking event, which provides a great opportunity to find out more about what we do, by following this link.

Or Please get in touch by emailing team@heropreneurs.co.uk

Former FT journalist Rachael de Moravia to speak at next event

We are pleased and excited to announce that the speaker at our upcoming event at the RAF Club in London’s Piccadilly will be former Financial Times journalist and author Rachael de Moravia.

The networking event, which will take place from 18.30 on May 11, will see Rachael take to the stage to tell all about her life as a military spouse and journalist.

A former FT journalist, magazine editor and radio news presenter, Rachael has written for UK and international publications, and is currently senior lecturer in journalism at the University of Gloucestershire. She is also a military spouse who has written a memoir of – what she calls – her ‘double life’.

Rachael is crowd-funding her book, called News from the Home Front, with award-winning publisher Unbound.

Rachael explains: “Deployments, life in married quarters and moving – sometimes at short notice – to new counties or countries: these are all intrinsic aspects of life for military spouses. Less common, however, are accounts of life on this side of a military marriage.” This is a gap that News from the Home Front seeks to fill.

A military spouse for almost fifteen years, Rachael de Moravia is very familiar with the lifestyle – the highs, the lows, and the unpredictable twists and turns – of the close friends and relatives of military personnel.

Rachael married her husband in September 2001, during a period that developed into a pivotal time of changing global politics, international conflict and military action. Her husband found himself on the way to Iraq before the honeymoon period was over, and has since completed nine tours of duty while raising a family together.

Entrepreneurial by necessity rather than choice, Rachael will talk to those at the event about the challenges faced by military families, and how she has maintained an independent career despite the restrictions of the forces lifestyle.

It is sure to be a good one, so don’t forget to visit the EventBrite page for ticketing information.

You can read more about News from the Home Front and pledge to support the book here: https://unbound.co.uk/books/news-from-the-home-front

Follow Rachael on Twitter using the handle @rachael_moravia.

Guest blog: Social Mobility and Entrepreneurs by Martin Bodenham

It was in the blistering heat of early summer—a heavy kit bag strapped to his back—that my father collapsed and died of a heart attack. He was 37 and was serving with the British army in Cyprus just after the Turkish invasion of the mid-1970s. I was only in my teens back then, but I still remember my father worrying over what he would do once he got to “Civvy Street”. He’d served almost 20 years and was due to leave the army two years later.

One vivid memory I have is my father planning on working for himself in some capacity. He thought very few employers would be interested in him and he feared facing years of unfulfilling work to continue providing for his family. Years later, I wasn’t surprised when my brother set up his own business after he had served in the army. My father’s instinct to look to himself to create his own future stuck with me as I ended up founding a private equity firm of my own some fifteen years ago.

Becoming an entrepreneur and working for yourself is one of the few ways to find stimulating and meaningful work. Just as important, it is one of the last remaining ladders to achieve upward social mobility.

A couple of years ago, much was written about the UK’s then work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, and his claim that he could live on £53 a week—broadly the amount someone below 25 would receive on jobseeker’s allowance. There is no doubt that it would be difficult for anyone to live on this amount. Harder still would be the prospect of having to survive on it and never being able to see a way out.

I don’t blame the government for trying to contain the spiralling cost of the welfare state. The benefit system for the unemployed was only ever designed to help those in need through a period of temporary difficulty. The intention was never to make welfare payments a viable alternative to work.  But the reality is that many are trapped, let down by an education system that leaves them poorly equipped to take up the well-paid jobs available. Compared to living off meagre benefits, those jobs that are left hold little appeal unless they come with the prospect of advancement.

This is my main point. Most people want to work, but they do not want to work simply to meet their basic needs for food and shelter; they can get that on benefits.  What people want is work that will enable them to climb out of poverty and, through hard work, build a better life for their families.

Sadly, the days when Terry Leahy could go from stacking shelves at Tesco to become its CEO have long gone.  Recent OECD figures show the UK has one of the poorest records for social mobility among western economies.  Our earnings are more likely to reflect our fathers’ than any other OECD country.

Those same figures show that UK social mobility has not changed since the 1970s. Today, for the poorest twenty percent in society, almost half have mothers with no qualifications. For the richest, it is only three percent.

If the government has to cut welfare spending, and I believe it does, then it must also offer people every opportunity to improve their lives.  It should not matter where you come from. Everyone should have the same opportunity by having access to quality education, because it is education that is the real engine for advancement. Education does not have to be limited to school-age children.

The government could make a huge impact on social mobility by encouraging a spirit of entrepreneurialism through educational and self-development schemes such as Heropreneurs and similar mentoring programmes.

Social mobility is the real issue faced by this country, not whether a former cabinet minister, who is married to an heiress, can survive on £53 a week.

Martin BodenhamMartin Bodenham is the founder of Advantage Capital, a London-based private equity firm. Since retiring two years ago, he has taken up writing financial th28riller novels. More information can be found on his website: www.martinbodenham.com

Guest blog: The history of Recruit for Spouses by Heledd Kendrick

Walking home from a coffee morning at a fellow military wife’s home in January 2009, I had an idea.  During my years as military wife, I had come across a wealth of professionally qualified, personally motivated military spouses who were unemployed as a result of their husband or wife’s career choice.  These people were stuck in a professional rut, unable to find fulfilling employment.

I realised that amongst the plethora of military businesses and charities offering career advice to serving personnel and veterans, there wasn’t much support for the partners of those still serving.

These people were stuck in a professional rut, unable to find fulfilling employment, primarily because of age-old stereotypes surrounding people attached to the military in recruitment agencies – that they aren’t able to commit to demanding roles and might leave at short notice due to the ever changing and moving nature of military service.

That’s why I set up Recruit for Spouses, which sets out to make employers realise this perception is wrong and also pay attention to the pool of talent they are overlooking because of it.

Once businesses realise the undiscovered talent that is available to them they are incredibly supportive. It’s not about special treatment. Those attached to the military through their partners are employed on their merits and skills.

I knew that the 100,000 military partners in the UK are able to give absolute dedication, professional conviction and quality professional output. So it was that Recruit for Spouses was created.

Prime Minister David Cameron recently recognised the work and achievements of Recruit for Spouses with a Big Society Award. Cameron said: “The families of our Armed Forces make extraordinary sacrifices every day as they support husbands, wives and partners through deployment after deployment.

“It’s inspirational to see Heledd do so much to help thousands of military spouses start or maintain fulfilling careers. This work shines a light on the huge range of talent and skills that can sometimes be over-looked amongst military spouses.

“I’m delighted to be recognising their achievements with this Big Society Award.”

Case Study: Dianne Dawson, customer service representative, major online retailer

After 12 years in Scotland, enjoying steady employment in the same area, Royal Air Force wife Dianne Dawson found herself posted to RAF Cosford in Shropshire.

“I didn’t realise how difficult it would be to find work when we moved. The first questions I was asked were: how long are you here? How often does your husband go away? Does it affect your childcare arrangements?”

Dianne, came across the Recruit For Spouses website by accident, not long after it launched in January 2012, and searched for home-based jobs. She sent her CV to Recruit For Spouses talent acquisition manager Susie Richards who offered guidance.

“I was supported and she would check how I was getting on. It really was a personally tailored service which I don’t think you’d get anywhere else.”

Susie identified and maximised Dianne’s transferable skills and she was soon snapped up by one of RFS’s clients. Dianne and her family – husband Jamie and sons, Charlie, seven, and Henry, four – are enjoying being a double income household.

“We can treat the kids and afford holidays which is something we couldn’t do without a second wage. I want to have a career and RFS has helped me to find that balance.”

Find out more at the Recruit for Spouses website.

Elite Bikes: How Mark Lyon became the king of carbonfibre

According to the Department for Transport, cycle traffic has risen every year in the UK since 2008 and in London, the number of journeys made by bike in 2013 went up to 0.6 million, a leap of 58.5% from 1993.

But there is one group of two-wheeled fanatics that regard their steeds as much more than simply a device to get from A to B: the competitive cyclist. Be it the lithe racer looking to set club records, the weekend sportive competitor or the determined track rider who just can’t keep away from the velodrome.

It is these two-wheeled enthusiasts that Mark Lyon caters for with his burgeoning company Elite Bikes.

The business, which is based in the beautiful surroundings of Melton Mowbray, delivers bespoke, beautiful, handcrafted carbonfibre bicycles to the discerning rider.

“I design every bike from scratch,” Mark explains. “I want everything on the bike to be totally unique, so the buyer doesn’t go away and change anything. That’s why I sit down with the customer over a coffee and find out exactly what they want and what the bike will be used for. We then discuss the finishing products, brakes and wheels and finally, the bike is hand-painted in a colour scheme of the customer’s choice.”

Mark is one of only a handful of bike-builders in the UK that painstakingly crafts bespoke frames from the notoriously expensive material. “All of the designs are created on my CAD machine but I wisely invested in a factory in China after leaving the Forces. I send the designs to the factory and they come back to me a few weeks later. It makes it more affordable.”Elite Bikes carbon bicycle

A high level of flexibility means Mark has been able to design bikes that are not only competitive but also comfortable over long distances. “Off the shelf designs are great but they don’t fit everyone,” he explains. “I’ve been able to craft bikes for those with bad backs or even Sciatica.”

This super high-quality carbonfibre (T1000, if you’re interested) is light, strong and extremely durable, while Mark’s designs are pieces of art in their own right – aerodynamic frames, high-performance wheels and small flourishes that draw appreciative nods from those that lay eyes on them.

“I’ve got a great reputation in the local area thanks to my attention to detail but I also wanted to offer good value for money,” he explains. “Other companies will charge twice the price of my bikes just because of the brand name but my customers know they are getting excellent quality at an affordable price.”

“Mark claims that most clients spend around £3k on a complete bike, which may sound like a large chunk of change, but his bicycles are good enough for British champions and internationally renowned cyclists.

“Charlotte Broughton helped me test and tweak a lot of my designs,” Mark explains. “She is nine-times British champion and she won both the Youth A Cyclocross National Champs in 2014 and broke the British 2K Individual Pursuit record on an Elite Bike at the 2014 British Track Championships.”

Charlotte now rides for Ford’s new EcoBoost team and is destined for great things but the Elite Bikes roster still includes Keira McVitty, Tom Seaman, Adrian Dent and Mark’s daughter, Eve.

“The business started because my daughter wanted a good bike to race with when she was 12 but there just wasn’t anything on the market,” he explains. “I decided to build her one and it just mushroomed from there. People kept asking me to build them one. I didn’t think it would be a career.”

Elite Bikes track cycleMark is a humble man and tends to play down his achievements. Since being medically discharged from the forces he has garnered qualifications that include a Level 3 cycle mechanic BTEC, a Master Frame Builder certificate and Shimano accreditation. On top of this he has a BTEC in aeronautical engineering and he is an RAF accredited carbon fibre technician.

“I knew I was coming out of the forces due to injury, so I went on as many courses as I could,” he says. “I had to lean new skills to succeed in civilian life and I was lucky that the Forces supported me in this.”

But it hasn’t been a completely smooth ride and Mark has turned for help in various stages of his business’s development. “I used to be in charge of lots of guys in the military and now I am on my own. It can be hard,” he explains. “My injuries also mean I can’t work sometimes and I had no experience in setting up a business, which is why the help from Heropreneurs has been invaluable.”

Mark teamed up with mentor Peter Mountford, who has offered advice and support throughout the process, while Martin Runnacles assisted with a website overhaul and helped oversee a rebranding excercise.

“Heropreneurs have been amazing,” he says. “They came up to visit and talked me through the website and how it needed to change. I have no business expertise, so the advice from the guys has been invaluable. You couldn’t pay for that sort of help,” he adds.

Elite Bikes is currently delivering a bespoke carbon fibre bicycle to a new customer every week, demand is on the increase and the business is going from strength to strength. “I didn’t think I wanted to expand but we have now outgrown our original site,” he explains. “I am looking for a new workshop with a showroom. It’s crazy how busy it is.”

To see more of Mark’s work head to Elite Bikes or visit his fantastic workshop for a coffee and a chat.

If you think Heropreneurs can help you, then please do get in touch via email.

The best websites for budding Heropreneurs

Starting a business can be tricky and navigating the minefield of #biz jargon, legal issues and brain-baffling numbers can prove a huge stumbling block for those looking to get a foot on the ladder.

Herporeneurs provides mentoring, support and all-important investment opportunities for those Service leavers, Armed Forces veterans and military spouses who are also aspiring entrepreneurs or generally interested in starting a business.

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about what we do, or if you’re interested in investing, but also take a look at the following compendium of handy websites.

These have been collated with help from our knowledgeable Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn followers, so take a look and come away armed with the skills to tackle the fierce world of business.

Oh, and feel free to get in touch with your own suggestions…

heropreneurs.co.uk

You are here already, so clearly you have great taste. But in all seriousness, this really is a great starting point for anyone needing help. Not only do we provide support and mentoring to those looking to start a business, we also hold monthly networking events that allow you to meet like-minded individuals, trade details and pick up tips from those who have been through it all. Check back regularly and follow our social media channels for the latest news.

startupblackops.com

The intro says: “This site was started on the belief that every entrepreneur will, at some point along their journey, find themselves at the bottom of a big, dark pit – seemingly alone, surrounded by nothing, and without a way out.  That is the unavoidable norm when it comes to starting and running your own business.”

It’s an impactful opening statement but the site goes on to deliver lots of great business advice, opinion pieces and news from experienced individuals. It’s also regularly updated.

entrepreneur.com

This American site does exactly what it says on the tin and provides a one-stop-shop for anyone looking to keep up with the latest business and financial news. We highly recommend the ‘How To’ section, which covers everything from “How To Make Your First Million” to “Low Cost Business Ideas”. It’s clearly skewed towards the American market but it’s worth a look.

forbes.com

It might be famous for its annual Rich List but its entrepreneurs microsite is perfect for keeping abreast of the latest news from the business movers and shakers. Bookmark it and make sure to return regularly.

wired.co.uk 

Technology is shaping the way we do business and Wired is at the very core of the start-up, tech and gadget global industries. Don’t get stuck in the dark ages, follow this site for the latest news.

greatbusiness.gov.uk

The government’s own microsite site is a great first port of call for anyone thinking of starting a new business. It gives solid advice on writing a business plan, finance opportunities and where to find a good business mentor. Although they don’t get much better than the mentees we have here at Heropreneurs.

startups.co.uk

It doesn’t need much of an introduction, as Startups deals solely with the business of, erm, new business. Expect the latest news, enjoyable features, great advice, interviews and even book recommendations.

smallbusines.co.uk 

Finance is one of the trickiest parts of a start-up, be it payroll, investment or cash flow, which is why it’s good to be armed with all the information you can get hold of in the early stages of any new venture. This site has it all and a particularly helpful financing section for those not used to crunching numbers.