Veterans turn military skills into entrepreneurship

Returning to civvy street can be a daunting prospect when transitioning from a career in the military. Yet research shows that veterans are equipped with a unique set of skills and experience which can help them to become successful entrepreneurs. Here, Paul McEldon OBE, Chief Executive at the North East BIC, explains his motivation behind the BIC’s new pilot project, Veterans RV.

I’ve been involved in business for over 30 years and have been fortunate to be at the helm of the North East BIC since 2001, during which we’ve helped thousands of people change their lives by becoming their own boss.

However, it wasn’t until we recruited business advisers Anthony [McDermott] and Mark [Walsh] – who both served in the forces - that we had our ‘lightbulb moment’ when it comes to veterans.

The transition from a career in the military to civilian life can be a daunting prospect which many struggle with. They have come from an environment designed to care for service personnel, allowing them to focus on the rigours of their unique day jobs, leaving this structure and getting accustomed to a new way of life throws up big challenges, with many veterans struggling to find an identity in the civilian world.

(L-R: Mark Walsh & Anthony McDermott)

This rings especially true when adjusting to the world of work, where it is so often difficult for them to find their place. Often, they find jobs rather than a career or a vocation.

But veterans are equipped with a unique set of skills and experience which can help them to not only find a real vocation, but also to become successful business owners.

They have life experience, wisdom and a different way of thinking, all of the traits required to become real captains of industry.

Another of the key attributes of ex-service personnel is their ability to think outside the box, which is the true essence of innovation.

Those who enter the forces are very quickly taught problem solving, gaining the ability to use what is at their disposal to solve problems. Something that is a great asset in business.

That’s why I’m delighted that we are launching Veterans RV, a 12-week pilot programme made up of informal one-to-ones, group mentoring and training to help veterans explore the idea of becoming their own boss.

The programme was designed by the BIC’s expert business advisers in partnership with the veteran community, with the aim of exploring how we can better help veterans use their vast skills and experience to become successful entrepreneurs.

Designed by veterans, for veterans, the programme will help participants understand if self-employment is the right fit for them, how to get started and what support is available to help get their business off the ground.

The launch of Veterans RV also follows our signing of the Armed Forces Covenant last year, a promise made to those that have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, that we will do all we can to treat them with fairness and respect.

By signing the covenant, we reinforced our commitment to supporting veterans by establishing a military friendly work environment and striving to develop new support projects for veterans – such as RV - in line with our values and capacity to encourage them to unleash their full potential.

So, if you or someone you know is ex-military and would like to find out more about getting involved, why not get in touch? It could be just the challenge they’ve been yearning for.

To find out more about Veterans RV, visit ne-bic.co.uk

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by North East BIC .

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