Lt Colonel Ren Kapur MBE: Ren is CEO and Founder of X-Forces Enterprises and Chair of the Soldiering on Awards. Enterprise skills are at the centre of everything Ren does.
She tells us why now is a more important time than ever for spouses, partners and family members of Serving and ex-Serving personnel to understand enterprise learning and see if business ownership is for them.
As the job markets begin to decline and we see more and more the long-term effects of the pandemic on the economy, enterprise learning is more important than ever. I have said before that If I had it my way, every person would be taught enterprise at a young age and it is hugely important to me that family members of our Armed Forces feel empowered and able to explore business skills which are hugely beneficial as an intrapreneur or an entrepreneur.
X-Forces Enterprise, with funding from The Royal British Legion is running a series of courses for serving and ex-serving personnel’s partners and family members who are interested in alternative employment options. The skills involved in writing a solid business plan and establishing a successful business equips the entrepreneur with a solid foundation whatever and wherever they decide to work. If you have been out of the business and commercial world for a period of time, which many Armed Forces Spouses and family members have been, it is vital to ‘plug back into’ that world, but often they don’t know where to start, this is a fantastic place to start. And not least to start growing a business network of like-minded people.
The first course was such a success the eight spouses and family members have stayed in touch and formed a very strong bond with Christmas plans already being made. Our next course, the second of four, starts on the 29th September.
As we know, experiences of spouses and family members are very different between all three services but, one thing which is constant, is the requirement to keep everything going while the service person is away, sometimes the service person might be in a volatile area, often for months on end with limited contact.
As well as funding from TRBL, the course was run in close collaboration with the Army, RAF and Navy Family Federations and focussed on developing valuable enterprise skills, learning all about the self-employment landscape, determining the viability of business ideas and forming a network with other spouses, partners and family members on a similar journey. One of the group said to us:
“This course has helped me so much! I’ve learnt about the different aspects of business, I feel that I can write my business plan with confidence, and I am now looking forward to the goals that I have set myself.
“I have really enjoyed speaking to the other course members that are wanting to set up their own business too, and its been great hearing and helping others out with different ideas. It’s nice knowing that we are all feeling the same.”
Relationships and family life are challenging at the best of times. For a serving family, add to that long periods of separation from your partner or parent, regularly moving, regularly changing schools and missing out on parts of the curriculum and, huge challenges for the spouse finding employment which reflects experience or qualifications, time available to work and child care costs. Isolation is a key issue, keeping everything together when you are worried about your serving person puts a huge amount of pressure on the person remaining at home.
Part of the recent Selous report ‘Living in our Shoes’ Understanding the needs of UK Armed Forces families explores the issues surrounding spousal employment how this affects relationships, they spoke to as many service families as they could: “As a general rule, spousal employment comes down to childcare, childcare, childcare. While I have been very lucky to have a profession which is mobile, being married into the Royal Navy has meant that my career has suffered. I am expected to work antisocial hours, causing problems if there is no childcare at weekends or after 6pm. In addition I am required to undertake a certain number of hours of professional development per year which is also a challenge with no childcare … Working full time has not been an option.” (RN Non-Serving Partner) (Selous pg 104)
X-Forces Enterprise is all about networks, we have helped over 2,000 entrepreneurs get funding, over 90% were seeking funding before they were introduced to XFE through government channels, and we have supported thousands more through their entrepreneurial journeys with learning and development and ongoing support. Networking has been fundamental to every single business and to complement this we recently launched the digital XFE Hub, a business support platform specifically for the Armed Forces Community. The one-stop-shop for all things related to self-employment, also supported by TRBL and people using the hub can also benefit from matching up with a Business Captain who will be an expert in a specific business area and will offer peer-to-peer support and guidance.
This immediately sets the huge foundations for a good working network.
Daniel Elser, Assistant Director of Operations at The Royal British Legion
“We have been working with X-Forces Enterprise on a number of very exciting projects. This latest course, empowering Armed Forces spouses and family members with the enterprise skills, is hugely significant and the response so far has been fantastic. The network formed by the spouses and family members will complement the new digital hub perfectly.”
To find out more about Enterprise Learning visit XFE’s website (https://www.x-forces.com). XFE is the UK’s leading provider of support to the military in business community. Support is available to service leavers, veterans, reservists, spouses, widows and dependants over 18. https://www.x-forces.com/ | @XForces | www.facebook.com/xforces