From veteran to entrepreneur and employer plus the business benefits of working with Reservists and Veterans

Photo of Lee Harris-Hamer

Lee Harris-Hamer

28-year-old Lee Harris-Hamer is the MD of White Horse Cleaning Services, a business he launched just 3 years ago. It now has 20 full time and 8 part time employees.

Lee served for 8 years in the British Army before a medical discharge.

A driven and successful entrepreneur, Lee says specific support he received when he launched and grew his business proved crucial.

But the entrepreneurial talent of Britain’s military veterans isn’t being fully realised, according to a report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

To mark Armed Forces Day Lee joined me in the radio studio and described his business growth journey – and told me how joining the Federation for Small Businesses saved him the staggering sum of £50,000.

Also on today’s programme: Phil Walton, Assistant Regional Employer Engagement Director at the RFCA (Reserve Forces’ & Cadets’ Association) for Yorkshire and The Humber.

Phil describes the significant benefits to businesses and organisations (such as the health service) of working with Veterans, Reservists, Cadets and Spouses.

Here’s the podcast. Click the large arrow to play, or hover over the media player and click on the icon on the bottom right corner to download it. You can also access it in iTunes / Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or Spotify.


  • 0 – 5:44 introduction and updates, including a reminder to enter the UK Social Enterprise Awards, an announcement about the Star Small Business Awards, and the Government won’t hit its target of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, and the forthcoming Cliffhanger festival (and British Bouldering Championships
  • 5:44 Saturday 29 June is Armed Forces Day and 26 June was Reserves Day.
  • 6:52 Britain’s veterans need better backing to become entrepreneurs, according to a new report, A Force For Business, from the Federation for Small Businesses (FSB).
  • 7:38 Lee Harris-Hamer. Lee talks about leaving the Armed Forces after a medical discharge and launching the business 3 years ago. It already has 28 staff.
  • Lee was in the 4th Regiment, Royal Artillery. He served 8 years, joining at the age of 17. “If I hadn’t been discharged I would still be serving because I loved it,” he says – and describes what led to his medical discharge.
  • 10:50 How did Lee set up the company and what sort of support was available to him? Lee describes how the Army Benevolent Fund and X-Forces Enterprise helped.
  • 13:00 The attributes that service leavers have are the attributes of a successful entrepreneur, according to the FSB’s Force For Business Report. But self-employment isn’t for everyone, says Lee. This is why specific support is so helpful.
  • 16:00 More about X-Forces Enterprise and their support for service leavers, spouses and veterans.
  • 19:31 Phil Walton: What is the RFCA? It used to run the Territorial Army.
  • 20:58 Phil works to establish strong relationships with employers to promote the benefits of employing Reservists, Veterans, Cadets and Spouses.
  • 22:00 There are over 36,000 Reservists in the UK.
  • 22:45 The business benefits of working with Reservists and Veterans, Cadets and Spouses – including accessing relevant training and professional development.
  • 24:30 The Health Service understands employing Reservists brings additional skills into their workplaces and hospitals.
  • 25:30 The region’s ERS Gold Award Winners are really going the extra mile, says Phil. And how to contact The RFCA.
  • 27:30 Back to Lee Harris-Hamer.
  • 28:20 Why Lee joined the FSB and how this has benefited his business (including how it saved him £50,000!)
  • 31:15 Lee’s business growth plans, and intentions to mentor other entrepreneurs.
  • 33:00 Is Lee worried about Brexit and uncertainty in the economy? How he’s building resilience.
  • 34:45 How has Lee’s business secured contracts and work? Motivation, discipline, courage and other attributes developed in the Army have proven effective. And the business thing you learn in the Army is problem solving, he says.
  • 36:20 The most effective marketing and client attraction strategies for Lee.
  • 40:15 How to contact White Horse Cleaning Services.
  • 41:00 Getting in touch with the Business Live show.
  • 42:43 UK Social Enterprise Awards reminder.
  • 44:34 Good news for the Social Enterprise Exchange programme.
  • 45:30 Wrapping up.

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