A course designed to help injured servicemen and women take their first steps into the world of self-employment has led to one wounded hero launching his own business.
Veteran James Dixon, 36, of Cambridgeshire, took part in the Business eXperience course at Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, Tedworth House, a self-employment course funded by the military charity.
Self-employment has become a very realistic option for ex-military jobs. Help for Heroes created a 6-day programme, in partnership with X Forces, to provide wounded, injured and sick veterans with all of the support they need to get their business ready for launch. The course focused on all the elements of the business model: USP, Sales, Marketing, Cash flow, and Business law.
James was commissioned into the Army when he was 25-years-old and served with 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, completing two tours of Afghanistan. In 2012, he suffered a back injury and nerve damage down his left side. He copes daily with severe headaches, intense neuropathic pain, difficulty walking or sitting for long periods and constant fatigue.
Since taking part in Business eXperience, James has launched Formilink Ltd, a student and employer network committed to improving communities by generating opportunities for students and facilitating a cost-effective alternative to traditional recruitment channels for employers. Formilink employs wounded, injured or sick veterans.
James, who was also awarded a £1,600 grant from Help for Heroes to help with his start-up costs, explained: “Going through the rehabilitation process gives you a lot of time to think. When I left the military, I wasn’t in a great rush to go straight into another career, so I thought I would spend the time trying to experience as many different areas of employment that I could. Networking and short placements aided in building the picture and it became more apparent that I should set up my own business.
“I’ve always been passionate about helping people. Being in the military gave you the identity and variety of opportunity to be able to do that in a number of different ways, locally, nationally and internationally. I saw this as the right time to help a large part of society within a single business.”
James explained how the course was beneficial to his successful launch.
“It gave me the confidence to get the business up and running. The feedback itself made me realise that I had a credible idea. I went into the programme to gain an awareness of the process of setting up a business and understanding the business plan and cashflow. I came out of it realising that now was the right time for me to run my own business.
“I was inspired by the other wounded, injured and sick veterans and their ideas. Everyone’s journey is different but there are many common ways of overcoming adversity.
“Help for Heroes and X Forces have been fantastic. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for them. The setup that they have at Tedworth House is great. The reinforcement that they are there to help where they can has been a huge support.
“The team have a real passion for helping out. They have taken time to talk through aspects of my business including marketing strategies and have assisted in securing funding for its development.”
James added that running his own business has helped him on his recovery journey and urges other wounded veterans to consider self-employment.
“It’s given me a purpose personally and professionally which is a huge part in keeping the mind occupied and exercised. Everyone has their own limitations and for me those limitations have motivated me to establish the business which is a huge psychological boost.
“It gives you a chance to realise your true potential. The process of developing an idea, no matter how small, into a viable business is a condensed education which can often set off a chain reaction of further possibilities.”