Steve Parnell who lives in Brackley, Northamptonshire joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1986 and served until 1991, where he worked as a steward in the Officer’s Mess at RAF Brize Norton.
Steve said “I joined the RAF because my mum saw an advert for stewards and at the time it was a great career to get in to, so I applied and was accepted and enjoyed my five years as a Steward”.
During Steve’s service he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a genetic disease which slowly causes blindness.
In his own words “It was a huge shock when I found out, because at the time there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with my sight, I could still see and drive.”
In 2006 Steve started to receive help from the Blind Veterans UK charity after being recommended by his local eye clinic in Northamptonshire. Steve didn’t let his Retinitis Pigmentosa stop him from becoming self-employed.
“I thought it was a brilliant opportunity to start-up my own business Massage by Steve Parnell, to continue working”.
Steve has gone through severe challenges since diagnosed with his condition, when he first sought help 15 years ago, the people within the different companies he approached had no compassion to support him or his business.
“Being visually impaired creates it’s own obstacles, but my main challenges have been seeking a business premises, digital marketing and websites not being very accessible for visually impaired individuals”.
Steve was then introduced to X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) through the Blind Veterans charity where he attended a 4 Day Business and Enterprise Programme in 2016. “The workshop was very informative and offered support to each of us taking into account our idea, visual impairment and circumstance. The business skills learned on the programme have helped me along my journey”.
“As a new member of the X-Forces family, I have felt the enthusiasm of the team since Day 1 of the course in Brighton and gained an experience that you can’t find anywhere else. The ongoing support has been exceptional from the XFE team. XFE were able to support me through my journey and introduced me to the corporate covenant where I received assistance to develop my website”.
The advice Steve recommends to the military community thinking about becoming an entrepreneur is “do your research into what type of business you would like to set up, such as finding out how many businesses are in the area you would like set up in, if it’s a product, check leasing prices, is it worth having a premises? Can you have an e-commerce store? Make sure your idea is viable to start up and grow, and is it really worth pursuing?
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If you’re considering self-employment like Steve, find out how X-Forces Enterprise can support you: http://bit.ly/2JT9yIN
X-Forces Enterprise (XFE)
Is an award-winning Community Interest Company that nurtures entrepreneurial ambition in the UK military community and are the official delivery partner to the governments Start Up loans scheme and the Careers Transition Partnership (MOD). XFE have supported over 1,300 entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and has helped thousands more through training, events and mentoring provisions. X-Forces.com
If you would like to use Steve’s business in your publication, please contact Tenneka Richards, Marketing & Communications officer, X-Forces Enterprise on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)207 811 3237.