“My time in the forces gave me people skills, it taught me about trust and that people do business with people. It gave me the determination to keep going against the odds and to make things happen when everyone else has gone home! You need to be an all-rounder, someone who draws on other peoples’ strengths. You either need to be an all-rounder or bring in expertise”
Nick joined the Army from school and was commissioned into The Royal Green Jackets, an infantry regiment. He served in many countries around the world including Berlin in 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down. He was awarded a MBE for services in Northern Ireland and retired from the Army aged 40.
After his time in the Army, Nick wanted to learn more about business so then attended a full-time MBA course at Bath and on completion decided to join a small business in the world of direct mail. After a short period, he set up NRG Direct Mail and has been running his own business for 12 years.
Nick is also a business Ambassador, a member of Shropshire Business Board and Chairman of ABF, The Soldiers Charity in Shropshire. His passion is sailing and he has just launched another new business teaching sailing; see www.nrgyachting.co.uk which he plans to run alongside his main occupation at NRG Direct Mail.
“My plans for the future are to expand my business yet retain the happy atmosphere in the workplace and spend more time on the water.”
Nick told Wave-length that by running his own business he can enjoy a lifestyle that offers a good work/life balance, where he can choose his work hours to best support the business. Although he sometimes has to work 6 day weeks, he can also enjoy taking longer holidays without having to worry. He explains that owning your own business provides several challenges, especially as you as the owner are responsible for a wide range of aspects including marketing, operations, finance and employment. From his experience, growing a business in a contracting market and employing people he can trust has been challenge, however he explains there is no better way to learn than through experience.
Finally, we asked Nick if he had any advice to give to others that have come out of the armed forces who are considering starting up their own business.
“I made use of the Chamber of Commerce courses running at the time and I found them invaluable. Join a network club and find a friendly banker, accountant and lawyer. Nurture a group of friends who you ask for help. Make sure you look after the numbers and understand the cost and value of money. There needs to be a market and it’s often difficult to assess this so set yourself a realistic and achievable target. Put caps on your borrowing, ring fence your house and then change track if it doesn’t work after 2 years. This is easier said than done!”
Wave-length offers workshops through their Junction Box programme that would be useful for people who want to apply the skills and knowledge they gained during their time in the military into setting up their own business. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org