People frequently ask how the idea of Heropreneurs came about. The idea came about after meeting a former soldier who had been out of the British army for several years.
John had come from a background of grinding poverty in the north of England, had led a chaotic life before joining up and for a few years had led an equally chaotic life after leaving the forces.
Becoming a business owner by accident, I met John five years after he had set up in business, his company was turning over close to £1m a year and employing 50 people.
Bootstrapping his business from day one, he worked full out for seven days a week and kept his customers happy, day after day.
He put his success down to his military training, the ability to get on with people and the tenacity to succeed.
Our teams see people like John every day of the week and view them as the people they are, as entrepreneurs and founders of start-up or early-stage companies, not as charity cases.
It might be useful to say that we're the only registered charity in the UK which works exclusively to help former members of the armed forces and their spouses, set up and run their own businesses.
We influence the way veterans, service leavers and armed forces spouses are seen as capable business owners, not charitable cases and help them lead active, independent and fulfilling lives in the following ways:
- Working with local, national and regional partners to encourage more people to run small businesses, franchises and social enterprises;
- Provide a tailored structured mentoring programme so the people we guide and the businesses we support can benefit from the advice of successful businessmen and businesswomen;
- Hold regular networking and business workshops designed to educate and stimulate interest in starting up in business;
- Help to formulate small business policy and contribute to debates around it;
- Our 'Be Inspired' series of entrepreneurial talks take place in London and the regions approximately 12 times a year and are open to anyone interested in business, civilian or armed forces alike and all of our talks feature start-up founders who detail the path they followed to build a successful company.
Self-belief is infectious. In Britain's armed forces community today, there are entrepreneurs everywhere - they just don't know it yet. Success stories everywhere - they just haven't been written yet. We must be the people who release that potential.