James, 32, made the decision to join the Royal Engineers in 2006.
I was influenced by some great guys in my youth who were ex Sappers. I would have never lived it down if I had joined any other Corps, so I joined the Royal Engineers. And they were right, the best Corps in the British Army!
During his service James completed three operational tours in Afghanistan and various pre-deployment training exercises to the Falkland Islands, Kenya and Jordan. He also spent 6 months in the Falklands as part of the Royal Engineers Maintenance Team looking after the Airfield Damage Repair plant.
James has very fond memories of his time in the Army.
My final Tour was the most interesting. There was a shortage of Search Teams in the Corps and they were calling for volunteers in the Squadron to train to be a Herrick High Risk Search Team. This job included clearing routes and areas of Improvised Explosive Devices. I volunteered to be a part of this experience along with many others. Unfortunately, my Section Commander had to leave theatre for personal reasons about a third of the way through the tour and I took command of the Search Team for the duration of the tour. It was a great experience and a great team!
These days life is a bit different for James, who left the Army after 7 years of service and now lives with partner David and their Dachshund Max on the Isle of Wight where they run WightStream – an exterior cleaning company specialising in stone and brick cleaning, paint and graffiti removal and façade restoration – providing these services across the UK.
I had reached a point where I could either choose to stay on or leave. I had achieved everything I wanted to in the Army and was desperate to see the world that wasn’t battered and bruised.
Although it might have been the right time to leave the Army, it wasn’t the easiest of transitions.
When I left the army I really struggled to find a job that made me feel the same way I did in the Army and gave me pride in my work. I felt like I had taken a step backwards. So, I decided to go travelling and bought a plane ticket to Australia. I needed to blow off some steam and ‘Civvie’ up! I had lot of different jobs out there as a self-employed door to door salesman and even working as a Station Hand on a Cattle Station!
This break in Australia was exactly what James needed to realise his dream of setting up his own business.
When I returned home I had gained lots of experience in managing my own finances and budgeting and had lots of ideas on what to do with my life. I wanted to start my own business and when I met David he wanted to do the same.
It was then that James reached out to X-Forces for support.
X-Forces believed in our initial business plan and were instrumental in getting us through the start-up loan process. It has been a real relief to know that if we need help with anything they are there. They have also provided ongoing business support on our social media platforms, which has been awesome.
Although it hasn’t always been an easy journey, with cash flow challenges and some other low points, James would still recommend becoming an entrepreneur.
If you are looking for that pride back in your life, starting your own business is the way to achieve that. The pride you have for it when you succeed will trump any promotion or win you had in your career in the forces. Don’t be disheartened if you fail. I can assure you, you will have more failures than successes in your first two years, get over it and learn from it!
To find out more about WightStream please visit the links below:
If you’re considering self-employment like James, we run free Self-Employment Discovery Workshops! Find out more via http://bit.ly/xfevents