Start planning as early as you can – do the workshops, write your business plan, pin your vision and mission statement to the wall, and be excited about what you are doing!
It’s always a joy for us to share the stories of X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) beneficiaries, to trace their entrepreneurial journeys, and chart their progress. By sharing these stories we hope to inspire others from the military community to turn their self-employment dreams into reality.
For this latest case study, we turned to XFE Ambassador and Veteran, Jen Bradburn. Jen comes from a military family; her father having served in the Royal Artillery and her granddad in the Medical Corps. She herself served in the Adjutant General’s Corps, Staff and Personnel Support.
Nowadays, Jen owns SEM Help which provides SMEs with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) advice and support. But why?
“I do SEO for small businesses because I genuinely, truly believe that they deserve to be heard and I want to help people to succeed – it really is that simple. The size of your budget should not hold you back from being found organically in search engines, and the key thing about Search Engine Optimisation is the part it plays in your organic reach. It’s about trust, not ad spend.”
Jen chose to launch SEM Help in the COVID infused days of March 2020….talk about timing! Then again, a career in the Armed Forces is often considered to be character building and many ex-service personnel relish a challenge. However, for Jen, it was all about flexibility.
“I like flexibility in my life and a lot of workplaces can’t accommodate that – well, at least they couldn’t before the pandemic changed the way people work. To be brutally honest, I don’t like asking to take time off or having to justify why I don’t feel well on a particular day.”
Jen attended several XFE workshops, which have benefited her both directly and indirectly. She talks enthusiastically about the amazing people she has met through these events and the opportunities to work with individuals who have an ethos and set of values similar to her own.
Since becoming an Ambassador, Jen has seen the XFE Masterclasses from ‘the other side of the camera’, having delivered three superb sessions for budding entrepreneurs. It is especially powerful when a business owner shares their experiences with others embarking on similar journeys, which is only enhanced by the common bond of the Armed Forces community.
Like all entrepreneurs, Jen has faced her fair share of challenges along the way. However, her self-awareness, ability to identify her strengths and courage to confront her weaknesses, has allowed her to overcome many obstacles.
“That dreaded expression ‘imposter syndrome’ – I have experience, I have the training, I have the skills and ability, but I still seem to view myself as a novice. On the plus side, that motivates me to stay up-to-date and learn new things too. Sometimes motivation can be difficult. I really struggle with deadlines and leave everything until just before the date it’s due, which can be a bit chaotic – but I now have a Virtual Assistant who is amazing at helping me with the admin of running a business.”
Jen clearly has a lot of knowledge to impart, to which anyone who has attended her XFE Masterclasses can attest. We couldn’t miss the opportunity to share her advice with a wider audience:
“Start planning as early as you can – do the workshops, write your business plan, pin your vision and mission statement to the wall, be excited about what you are doing…and tell everyone you meet too. Being in business needs preparation so get ready in advance so that you can hit the ground running when you launch.
“Plan your time: if you choose this path to spend more time with your family, don’t get dragged into working 80 hours a week or taking your laptop on holiday. If your choice is to have flexibility, then don’t feel obligated to be at your desk for 8.30am.”