Spearhead Compliance Training: Battling back in Birmingham

After being injured in a bomb blast whilst fighting in Afghanistan, John Loveday returned to the UK and was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. Despite this, he has battled back and launched a training company backed by some of the country’s top entrepreneurs. John told BQ about how he got started.

John left the military in 2010 and like many others who have served their country, found himself with great transferrable skills.

Despite this, he found that he didn’t have any civilian recognised qualifications to help him find employment when he returned home.

After seeking support from a number of recruitment firms and agencies, he continued to struggle to find work. This led to the launch of Spearhead Compliance Training alongside co-founder Paul Hood.

He told BQ: "I had just returned from the fiercest fighting the British Army has seen to date in Afghanistan and was injured in a bomb blast.

"I didn't realise at the time of trying to seek employment that I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The lack of employment dragged me down and finally I walked into the organisation Pertemps People Development Group.

"PPDG then placed me on various accredited courses and I became a free lance trainer teaching First Aid. I gained employment and got through the PTSD.

"It was due to this that I wanted to make a difference to the lives of those that would be in the same position I was.

"I had a lot of bad experiences with off the shelf training providers and wanted to start a business that could make a difference.

"I met Paul during work as a bodyguard at a UK festival and Paul mentioned he was due to attend a comprehensive course to become a free lance trainer.

"Paul attended the course and called me to ask if I would be interested in starting our own company that could deliver training to a better standard. The rest as they say is history."

The duo decided to launch Spearhead Compliance Training, offering interactive and engaging training courses that would help those that had struggled to find work through traditional forms of recruitment similar to John.

Speaking about the firm, John said: "Spearhead Compliance Training is an award winning training provider offering the most interactive and engaging online training platform on the market.

"We deliver the UK's leading practical and online courses. Our most popular courses include First Aid, Health and Safety, Manual Handling, Food Safety, Fire Safety and many more."

When launching the business, both John and Paul sacrificed some of their personal earnings to launch the firm and get the wheels in motion.

They started from home with nothing but a laptop and printer and now boast a total of 125 trainers nationally.

He continued: "we self funded initially and also took a cut on wages in order to re invest it into the business.

"This luckily worked for us and has now enabled us to scale and grow. We now have 125 trainers nationally, a sales manager and soon a general assistant as part of our growing team.

"We were lucky enough to be successful in gaining a place on the coveted Entrepreneurial Spark Programme which enables us to have office premises in St Phillips place in Colmore Business District."

As well as receiving support from the Entrepreneurial Spark programme led by RBS, the duo also managed to secure a couple of serial entrepreneurs to guide them on their business journey.

John said: "We have a pool of mentors that have bought not only into us as entrepreneurs but also into our vision, passion and drive.

"We have a partnership with Poundland founder Steven Smith. Steve has kindly gave us introductions to multi-million pound organisations that have resulted in Spearhead having in depth talks and some of those organisation potentially becoming clients.

"We have also been lucky to have access to Rod Tompsett the former CEO of Jessops and St Tropez fake tan brand, Rod also took a training company to stratospheric heights and has currently helped us in preparation for our largest contract bid to date.

"Finally we have the great Entrepreneurial Spark team that have not only developed us as entrepreneurs but developed our business.

"Thanks to this we have seen rapid growth and recently won an award for Business People of The Year, this in turn resulted in Spearhead Compliance Training being recognised as one of the most promising start up enterprises in the UK (Quoted by Solihull Observer).

"We have seen our high standards of training delivery and client relationships resulting in us gaining features in Solihull Observer, The Sun, Sky TV, FreeSat, BBC WM Radio and now of course, BQ!"

Moving forward, John is eyeing to increase the company’s turnover to £1.9m over the next year.

He said: "We look to hit a turnover of £1.9m in the next 12 months with 76% profit margins, we are currently in talks with major organisations that will enable us to secure 50% of that turnover in the next 8-10 months.

"We are already being recognised as a leading provider of quality training and look to be one of the UK's leading suppliers of compliance training in the next 12 months."

On top of boasting trainers across the UK, renowned mentors and hitting all of their targets, John and Paul have also already secured their dream customer.

He added: "We have achieved a dream client in terms of The Ministry of Defence in which the MOD commissions Spearhead to qualify serving and reserve members of HM Forces. Our dream however would be to dominate the industry in terms of the retail, care and hospitality sectors!"

Going forward, John said: "We look to have a further 3 members added to our team including Steven Smith The Founder of Poundland at board level.

"We are already being recognised as a leading provider of quality training and look to be one of the UK's leading suppliers of compliance training in the next 12 months. Long term goals are to branch out internationally and we already have links in place for this!"

The BQ Start-Up Stories are a weekly feature both online and on BQ Breakfast, you can read more here.