Government Start-Up loans extended to Armed Forces entrepreneurs

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A military charity which advises and guides UK ex-military into setting up in business says that the number of start-ups could multiply now that the Government has extended its Start Up Loans scheme* to any age with a special focus on former Armed Services personnel.

Richard Morris, the Founder of Heropreneurs said that Service leavers and veterans should be encouraged to try starting up in business if they are unable to get a suitable or satisfying job.

‘When you look across to the US their veterans are responsible for around 9 percent of all U.S. businesses, employing 5.8 million workers.  We should do all we can to mirror this success but we should also look at their attitude to risk and failure.

‘The best entrepreneurs and business people take risks – but risks based on insight and sound business fundamentals. We need to educate British business talent about a new approach to risk and I believe that those leaving our Armed Forces can lead the way in this because our Armed Forces have a single ambition to be the best. They have the single ambition to be the best.

‘We’re not advocating a gung-ho approach to business; but neither should we shy away from encouraging people to take calculated risks which can provide both the individual and our economy with healthy returns.

Mr Morris added that it’s often not money that drives entrepreneurship but mentoring at the right level with the right people.

‘Big ideas need mentors at an early stage if we want them to make a big difference. And there is evidence that this approach can, and does, work – 70% of small businesses that receive mentoring survive for five years or more. That is double the rate of those that don’t but getting the right people who know about all levels of business is critical.’

James Harrison is one of the former soldiers Heropreneurs has helped. Mr Harrison is co-founder of Sky-Futures which flies unmanned aerial vehicles for industrial inspections in Oil and Gas, renewables and utilities.

James says:

‘The military trains its personnel to work in difficult, complex and uncertain environments. It also entrusts soldiers with real responsibility very early in their careers. This early experience with risk management, strategic understanding and operations can provide solid building blocks for potential entrepreneurs. Encouraging more potential ex-military entrepreneurs to start up businesses with mentoring and loans can only be a good thing for the wider economy.’

Stuart Nicol, a former Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders infantry officer who later this year will launch Reboot Ventures, a Venture Capital Trust which will invest in companies led by commercially proven ex-military entrepreneurs says:

‘Qualities such as integrity, energy, passion, leadership skills, adaptability and determination honed in the armed forces stand would-be entrepreneurs in good stead. Commercial nous and financial knowledge can be learnt and non-military team members can support the veteran in these areas.

‘There is a mismatch between the economic capacity of a large number of ex-military people and the employment they undertake in their civilian careers. Many of those who leave the Armed Forces are better suited to being entrepreneurs than they are to being employees. ’

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