MILITARY spouses and partners can take their first steps towards running their own businesses with a series of free events across Wiltshire.

Nine workshops are being held close to the county’s military communities from mid-April to September, with each offering help, advice and inspiration to turn ideas into viable businesses.

The Be Your Own Boss events are funded by Wiltshire Council through The Enterprise Network, which supports start-up and growing micro-businesses across Swindon and Wiltshire.

Kate Forrest, from The Enterprise Network, said: “The informal coffee morning-style events would suit someone spotting a business opportunity, looking to earn money from a hobby or creative talent, or thinking of resurrecting their career by going self-employed.”

Jane Scott, leader of Wiltshire Council, added: “We’re proud to be a military county and we recognise the economic value of having Service personnel living and working in Wiltshire.

“These events will provide an excellent springboard to help inspire Service leavers and partners of military personnel to launch their own business ideas with expert support and advice.”

The events will be run by Wiltshire Business Support Service at venues in Bulford, Ludgershall, Royal Wootton Bassett, Tidworth and Warminster.


Be Your Own Boss Dates
Warminster Community Centre (April 15, 9.30-12.30);
Ludgershall Castledown Enterprise Centre (April 22, 9.30-12.30);
Tidworth Garrison Theatre (May 7, 9.30-12.30);
Tidworth Leisure Centre (June 17, 9.30-12.30);
Bulford Beeches Community Centre (June 24, 9.30-12.30);
Tidworth Garrison Theatre (July 8, 9.30-12.30);
Warminster Community Centre (July 15, 9.30-12.30);
Royal Wootton Bassett Manor House Enterprise Centre (July 17, 9.30-12.30);
Tidworth Leisure Centre (Sept 23, 9.30-12.30).

To book a free place, visit www.theenterprisenetwork.co.uk/civvystreet or for further information phone 01225 402096 or email events@wessexchambers.org.uk


Kristen Smith, a military wife who runs her successful specialist recruitment companies Staff Medical and Insignia Global Partners from Service Family Accommodation at Tidworth, said: “Military wives know what it is like to manage on their own – stepping up into running a business just needs a great idea and a bit of confidence that you can do it.”

While the events are particularly suited to military spouses and partners and include free childcare, coffee and cake, anyone interested in taking a business idea further is welcome.

ENTERPRISE IN ACTION

Army wife Mel Bourner (pictured above) has launched her own boutique – and it’s all online so she can run it from wherever her husband’s next posting takes her.

Mel came up with her business idea while stationed at Bulford in Wiltshire with husband Shane, a driver in the Royal Signals now based at Blandford Camp. The business, Isobel’s Boutique, came from her love of vintage dresses.

“I’m really short with a big bust so I could never find clothes to fit me,” she said. “Then I discovered vintage dresses and they really suited me – and that’s where I got the idea for the business.”

Setting up a traditional high street shop was out of the question given the transitory nature of military life. “So far in the past year we have moved three times, so selling my dresses online is ideal,” she continued.

“There’s always the possibility that I might have to move again – with the military you have to take each day as it comes. But even if we suddenly get a posting in Cyprus, I can carry on running my business.”

Mel, aged 43, welcomes the Be Your Own Boss events for military spouses and partners. “There’s a lot of demand for self-employed work among military wives – a lot of us become franchise reps selling beauty products,” she explained. “But I wanted to do something I really enjoy and have a passion for. And the great thing is the business can go wherever I go.”

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