Franchise funds for ex-Forces

Be the Boss, an innovative programme launched by The Royal British Legion is helping ex-Service men and women to find out more about franchising.

Funded by the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Be the Boss is intended to help UK Service leavers plan, fund and grow their own small businesses.

Specifically, under the programme, former Armed Forces personnel are offered:

  • Funding to assist in the launch or growth of a business
  • Training in small business set-up
  • Assistance in writing a business plan and financial forecast
  • Periodic health checks and business mentoring to applicants from across the UK

The Be the Boss scheme was unveiled in June 2010 and has so far attracted interest from over 2,000 Service leavers interested in starting up their own businesses.

Simon McNeill-Ritchie, Managing Director of FranchisingWorks, part of a small consortium that was recently appointed by The Legion to deliver the programme, says: “The transition from Service life to Civvy Street can be a very difficult time for many Service leavers.

“Franchising offers a structured working environment, built on systems and procedures in a similar way to life in the Armed Forces. Many franchisors are aware of these similarities and welcome the opportunity to engage with former Armed Forces personnel.”

Be the Boss will refer interested franchising candidates to FranchisingWorks who then offer:

  • Workshops to help understand franchising
  • One-to-one sessions to assist with business planning and market research
  • Introductions to approved franchisors
  • Access to additional finance for qualifying candidates

Are you eligible?

The programme is open to anyone who left active service in the UK Armed Forces and intends to start-up or grow a small business in the UK. Applicants should first register on The Legion’s employment and training portal, Civvy Street.

Applicants must be legally resident in the UK, register their business in the UK and meet additional eligibility criteria. Existing businesses seeking funding must have been trading for no more than two years.

In order to apply for grant and loan funding, applicants must complete a training programme in business start-up or growth – Preparing To Run Your Own Business – which offers a flexible approach to learning about, and preparing for self-employment. The SFEDI-approved programme is modular in design, with seven core modules and a wide menu of optional modules that ensure the training and advice is tailored to your own business.

Applicants will be working with their own dedicated Business Advisor – through FranchisingWorks should they choose to adopt a franchising business model – to tailor support to their individual requirements and to assist with completing a business plan and financial forecast.

Financial support

Financial support is offered in a ratio of 25 per cent grant and 75 per cent loan, with start up funding capped at £7,500. Additional funding is available, up to a total of £30,000 per person, based upon business success and financial management of programme funds.

Be the Boss grants and loans can only be used for establishing or growing a business in accordance with a business or growth plan confirmed by an accredited business advisor. In general, funds cannot be used for personal expenses unrelated to the business, personal debt, travel, purchase of property, investment in certain large-scale national industries, training, licensing or accreditation. Additional details on limits of funding use are available in programme materials.

Ongoing support

Participants receiving funding will be offered ongoing business mentoring and regular health-checks for the first 12 months of trading, helping them to proactively identify and resolve problems, as well as manage revenue and debt effectively.


The Legion is committed to supporting Service Leavers to build on the training and discipline they developed in the Armed Services, leverage it to become equally successful in enterprise and create their opportunity to Be the Boss.

Be The Boss offers training, funding and mentoring to all Service Leavers regardless of the business model they choose to adopt.

Written by Lisa Rout