A new report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) says that the talents of military service leavers aren’t being fully realised, and that more could be done to support veterans to become entrepreneurs or key personnel in small businesses.

Service leavers have entrepreneur attributes ‘in spades’

According to Ministry of Defence figures, there are around 925,000 armed forces veterans of working age in households across Great Britain.

“Setting up and running your own business requires courage, determination and a strong work ethic. These are attributes which service leavers have in spades, and why self-employment is a route well worth considering by those coming towards the end of their time in the Armed Forces.”

Mike Cherry, Chairman of the FSB.

FSB research shows that in the UK, around 6% of small businesses (340,000) are run by ex-military personnel, while 12% of small businesses have employed a service leaver in the last three years.
However, the FSB’s report, ‘A Force For Business’, which was published just ahead of Armed Forces Day on 29th June, says more could be done to support veterans.

It recommends:
● An enhanced support package for those transitioning out of the armed forces, including a greater focus on the option of self-employment and the key skills needed to succeed as an entrepreneur
● More financial support for those service leavers in need of further training and qualifications to achieve their post-military ambitions
● A one-year holiday from Employer National Insurance Contributions for small businesses which employ service leavers

Cherry notes that, although smaller businesses are often better at spotting and nurturing talent among service leavers, it would be useful for civilians to have help identifying skills.

“At the same time, employers would benefit from a simplified way of understanding and recognising the equivalence between military skills and civilian qualifications.”

Life after leaving service

The FSB’s report highlights a number of case studies, including John Geden, who became a police detective after leaving but then turned his ‘mindfulness’ activity of beekeeping into a business. Similarly, Debbie Strang left the RAF to start a family, then went on to turn a disused RAF base on Unst, Shetland, into the UK’s most northerly resort and award-winning gin distillery.

“Military service; the education, the knowledge and the experiences this provides individuals, is a wonderful foundation on which they can build their own career in self-employment or business ownership – they just don’t always know it when they are transitioning from their military institution to the commercial world. Many skills developed within the Armed Forces community are in high demand in the commercial world of employed work; cyber security, drone technology, telecommunications, logistics, prosthetics, and artificial intelligence, to name just a few. These extremely valuable skills must not be lost to the commercial world, either employed or self-employed – it is likely that these individuals can experience and flourish in both after serving their country so well.”

Lt. Col. Ren Kapur, founder and CEO of X-Forces Enterprise

You can read the FSB’s full report here or find out more about X-Forces Enterprise on their website.

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