The enterprise effect
Since its launch, X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) – the leading organisation for enterprise in the Armed Forces community – has nurtured and guided more than 1,300 new businesses and facilitated £12.45 million in seed funding. Supporting Service leavers, spouses, Veterans, Reservists, Cadets and dependants to launch their own businesses, it exists to help the whole Armed Forces family. Here, just a few beneficiaries tell their stories …
Katherine Jenner, Burning Barn Limited
How a burning barn inspired a military spouse’s fiery rum brand
In September 2015, military spouse Katherine Jenner and her family experienced a massive fire on their farm in Hampton-in-Arden. Then, like a phoenix, the ashes in their barn gave rise to a brand new business: The Burning Barn Rum.
In many ways, the business was forged from the fire and smoke of that day. Their fiery Spiced Rum has real heat in it, and their unique Smoked Rum is redolent of smouldering embers and burnt caramel. Through Burning Barn Rums, Katherine is bringing new and exciting rum flavours to the spirits market, offering consumers the same craft credentials they can find in the gin category.
Katherine is a self-starter. From a young age, she had a goal and always wanted to run her own business. After the fire, she spotted a gap in the market for craft rum and decided to give it a go. The business is entirely self-funded.
As she says, ‘Our biggest challenges were the set-up costs and working capital to begin trading. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to my parents-in-law, who have put us up for the last six months while we get on our feet!
‘It’s been challenging learning how the drinks industry works, and what it means to be a small fish in a very big pond. I’ve learned so much so far and continue to learn and grow as the business does.’
The Royal British Legion recommended Katherine to sign up for support and mentoring with XFE to help her with the business. ‘XFE is a wonderful source of impartial advice and completely non-judgemental. It has helped me so much. It has put me in touch with a wonderful and very knowledgeable mentor who is holding me accountable for my strategy and marketing goals. It’s really helpful to have someone I can bounce ideas off and who will check in every few months to see how we’re getting on.
‘X-Forces Enterprise has also linked me up with a similar business that is further down the line in its entrepreneurial journey. Its advice and help has been invaluable so I’m really grateful to X-Forces Enterprise for putting us in touch.’
Katherine loves her business: ‘Being master of my own day and experiencing the huge sense of achievement and buzz I get from each sale is fantastic! I would advise anyone thinking of becoming an entrepreneur to just say yes and figure it out later!’
She continues: ‘Don’t be afraid to ask for help – just like X-Forces Enterprise, there are so many people out there willing to offer advice or lend a hand. Useful tips can come from unlikely sources, so just ask everyone and don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know. That’s part of the fun!’
Burning Barn Rum now has big plans for this year as it builds its customer base and work towards nationwide distribution.
You can get in touch with Burning Barn Rum via the following links:
If, like, Katherine you too would like to run your own business and are considering self-employment, XFE runs a series of free Self-Employment Discovery Workshops. Find out more athttp://bit.ly/xfevents
Richard Shepherd, Bring the Game Over
From flight ops to on-the-go gaming
Richard Shepherd from Faringdon, Oxfordshire, joined the Royal Air Force in Flight Operations in March 2004. On completing his education, he had moved into various sales roles. However, after a few years, he decided it wasn’t for him and that it was time to become independent and responsible. He followed his father’s footsteps and joined the RAF.
During Richard’s time in the RAF, he undertook three tours in Iraq, the Falkland Islands and Qatar. Sadly Richard was medically discharged due to injuries he sustained on adventurous training. ‘I enjoyed my time in the Royal Air Force and did a lot of amazing things, working alongside some great people, and making some very good friends.’
Richard’s entrepreneurial venture began once Help for Heroes funded a six-day business experience course delivered by X-Forces Enterprise. The course covered in-depth business start-up modules including setting up and sustaining a profitable business, marketing, cash flow, budgeting, and getting his business – Bring the Game Over – ready to launch.
The skills Richard developed as result of the six-day course enabled him to write a business plan and secure funding for his new enterprise. Bring the Game Over is a fully mobile gaming arcade that offers an immersive one-of-a-kind gaming experience, perfect for parties, weddings and corporate events. ‘We have all of the latest games consoles and top titles suitable for all ages and tastes. Our aim is to make sure everyone has a controller in their hands and is able to participate at all times. Our one-of-a-kind gaming van maximises space without compromising safety and comfort.’
Richard had always dreamt of starting his own business: ‘I had often dropped it into conversations – trying out different business ideas with friends, family and anyone else who would listen. Following my accident, I re-evaluated what I really wanted to do, and that was to reinvent myself as the entrepreneur I’d always wanted to become. For me, being an entrepreneur and setting up my own business has been incredibly rewarding. I can make my own decisions and run the business as I see fit, knowing that success or failure is all down to me.’
As with many businesses, there are always going to be challenges, and Richard came across a few, which he overcame. ‘When you do not have someone to tell you what to do, or when to do it, then you have to be self-motivated and willing to put in a lot of work without being paid.’
Richard’s advice to the ex-military community is: ‘Do something that you are passionate about, not just something you think will make you money. Make sure you do plenty of research and, if possible, try shadowing someone who is already doing the type of business you’re thinking of starting. Keep track of your spending and budget to inject cash into your business while you gain your first customers and income.’
To find out more about Richard’s company visit:
If you’re considering self-employment like Richard, why not come along to one of XFE’s free Self-Employment Discovery Workshops. Find out more at http://bit.ly/xfevents
Nicola Jane, Reflexology by Nicola Jane
Army spouse enterprise promotes a healthy body and mind
After 15 years in Police Staffing, Army spouse Nicola Jane from Cheshire had reached a crossroads in her professional life: either reapply for her role or start afresh in a new career move. Nicola chose to create her own future. With support from her husband and her family, she focused on building her own business: Reflexology by Nicola Jane.
Nicola knew it would be difficult to start her own business. Her biggest challenge has been time: ‘There simply were never enough hours in the day! Initially, as the business was growing, I was in charge of everything – from getting in new business, treating clients, writing treatment plans, social media, accounts and cleaning the clinic to project managing the build. In the long run, I knew the hard work would be worth it. I have the skills, the passion, the drive and the ability to succeed.’
Nicola is a clinical reflexologist, specialising in supporting clients through infertility, pain and lymphatic drainage. Her work extends beyond just treating the physical side as she empowers clients to take control of their own health and well-being.
Nicola’s business took off and her clientele started to grow quickly. She soon needed to expand the clinic. It was at this time that she approached X-Forces Enterprise to help her with business development and funding.
‘XFE supported me on development days, business guidance and advice. With the help of XFE, I also successfully applied for a small business loan, which helped me build further treatment rooms. I now sublet the treatment rooms and this provides me with an extra income. In addition, I also have a monthly liaison where I can put forward any questions, ask for guidance and advice … and I have a business mentor, who is amazing! He keeps me business focused and is working with me to help grow my business further. XFE’s support throughout my journey has been awesome.’
Nicola sums up her experiences as she offers insight to others in the military community who may be thinking of starting their own entrepreneurial journey: ‘Become a sponge – listen to everyone, take every opportunity and live your dream.’
For more information about Nicola’s business, please visit:
If, like Nicola, you’re considering self-employment, find out how X-Forces Enterprise can support you at http://bit.ly/2JT9yIN
X-Forces Enterprise (XFE)
XFE is an award-winning community interest company that nurtures entrepreneurial ambition in the UK military community, and is the official delivery partner to the government’s Start Up Loans scheme and the Career Transition Partnership (CTP). XFE has supported more than 1,300 entrepreneurs to start their own businesses – and has helped thousands more through training, events and mentoring provisions.
Case Studies See all
7 years, 10 months
Natalie Chapman served as a LBdr in the Artillery, specialising in logistics, before leaving the Army in November 2015 after almost eight years of service, to seek a new career after a 'change in her...Read more »
‘Leaving the Army and starting a new job or business is a difficult task. Gaining the correct up-to-date qualifications for your new job or business venture is just sensible thinking.Read more »