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Resettlement success

Richard E
Forces: Ex-RAF

Richard E - Squadron Leader

“For me, the most important aspect of the CTW was that it allowed some time out from a busy work schedule where I could actually start to think about the future. Sharing plans and ideas with others who were in the same position was also very reassuring."

Find out how ex-Squadron Leader Richard Eason went on to use his training experience to start his own business, CycleFox, which offers private cycle training and mobile bicycle maintenance, to help more people enjoy the fun and freedom of cycling.

Richard Eason served for 16 years in the RAF, leaving as a Squadron Leader in February 2014. He says, “it was time for me to have a little more stability. Newly married, I was ready to set down some roots, buy my own home and become part of a community.”

When asked about the skills he gained during Service, Richard says, “It’s difficult to identify specific experiences or qualifications. It’s more a collection of all these things and the mind-set that you naturally develop throughout your time in the service. The importance of having a plan has stuck with me, and accepting that you’ll need to be flexible when you come to implement it.

“Of my military career, I most enjoyed the camaraderie. Working with capable, innovative, funny and committed people and being surrounding by the mentality of wanting to provide effective solutions to problems. Of course, like in any organisation, there’s a smattering of people you wouldn’t choose to work/live with, but predominately the military is made up of a great bunch of people.”

To start his resettlement, Richard attended a Career Transition Workshop (CTW), and says, “for me, the most important aspect was that it allowed some time out from a busy work schedule where I could actually start to think about the future. Sharing plans and ideas with others who were in the same position was also very reassuring.

“I also attended the Business Start Up workshop – again, sharing ideas with others was very useful. In my experience any business idea/plan will evolve over time, the sooner you can get your initial idea down on paper, the sooner you’ll have a platform from which you can develop your ideas – the Business Start-up Workshop enabled me to start this process.”

With the plans for his new business in place, Richard used his IRTC grant to qualify as a National Standard Qualified Cycling Instructor. He says, “this then enabled me to gain some freelance work with Cycle Confident, a large organisation in London who deliver a significant amount of cycle training, often on behalf of Transport for London (they also deliver cycling instructor and bike mechanic training). The experience enabled me to gain a much better insight into the environment that I wanted to develop my own business in.”

Having gained the necessary qualification and experience, Richard was now ready to launch his business, and reflects, “one of the benefits of starting your own business is there is no interview process to get nervous about, but there are a lot of new things that you need to learn. “At this stage of my start-up the key areas of focus are recruiting new bicycle mechanics and cycling instructors so that I can widen the area in which CycleFox services are delivered. Then there’s the challenge of marketing our services to the communities we’re working in. CycleFox offers private cycle training to help build people’s confidence cycling on the roads, so that they can use their bicycle for everyday local transport. We also provide a mobile bicycle maintenance and repair service – mechanics come to you and make sure your bike stays in tip-top condition so it’s always ready to use. The project management skills I gained in the military are really useful. Linked to this is the ability to make decisions. They’re not always the right ones initially, but at least the business keeps moving and developing.”

When asked to think about any obstacles that he faced during the transition from the military to the civilian workplace, Richard says, “one of the things I’m still working on is establishing an effective routine. There’s no one else to provide direction on when and where you should be, when you start and when you finish. I need to get smarter about how I manage my time so that I can be as productive as possible, rather than flitting from one thing to another.”

With CycleFox going from strength-to-strength, Richard recently shared his experience with other Service leavers on the Business Start Up workshop at RRC Northolt, and has this advice for others considering starting their own business: “If you decide to start your own business you need to be clear and honest about your strengths and weaknesses. You can then identify those areas where it might make sense to get some external help. For me this included some creative design and technical web coding expertise, along with a good accountant who talks in a way that I can understand. This means you can focus on the things that you’re good at, whilst others help you with the things that you’re not so good at. When building a business, your time is valuable, so you need to make sure you spend it working on those elements of the business where you can add the greatest value”.

Further Information

Find out more about Richard’s business at
Attend a Business Start Up workshop – view dates and locations here
View useful links to help you start a business in our Resettlement Guide here

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