As a young RAF engineer travelling the globe with Number 1 (Fighter) Squadron, Darin Tudor helped keep the Force’s deadliest strike aircraft in top shape.
His vital toolkit – known as the Flyaway pack – coped with 99 percent of problems that the formidable Harrier Jump Jet threw at him.
But as sods’ law decrees, that one per cent will crop up when you least want or expect it.
For a squadron which often worked out of remote makeshift air strips, that posed a problem. Not least in getting hold of parts or special tools.
But then – if your near neighbours are allied forces and you have a gift for friendly banter, underpinned with an air of authority – help can be forthcoming.
That extra tool in Darin Tudor’s kit earned him the unofficial title of “The Fixer”. Later a skill officially recognised as a “flair for conversation” when he was given secondary duty roles involving press and public liaison
Today, some 30 years after leaving the RAF and with a CV bursting with senior appointments at the cutting edge of business development, Kenilworth-based Darin is again digging into his kit.
This time though he is handing the tools to would-be entrepreneurs to get them off to a flying start: A Toolkit for business success.
He developed the programme while Entrepreneur in Residence at Coventry University and has now honed it for a wider audience.
He said: “The Toolkit can be used by anyone with a passion for business, including young people who are either studying for or who have completed their A-levels and are looking to start up their own venture, or more mature business professionals looking to develop or boost their business. They could be doing anything from setting up a mobile beauty business to producing computer games or innovative engineering as its not product, service, or market specific – they will find out there is more to business than a good idea.”
And every nut and bolt of his learning programme has been forged with the lessons learned since he left Myton School in Warwick as a 17-year-old.
It was no surprise when at 14 he decided the RAF was for him.
He was familiar with troublesome engines having worked at a local the family farm, was captivated by airshows and wanted to see the world.
“I even went the RAF careers information caravan at the Royal Show and told them I was ready to sign up,” he recalled fondly.
“They politely told me it wasn’t as simple as that!”
When he was old enough to apply he was offered ‘the career of my dreams’ as an aircraft technician – starting with a three-year an extensive and world class apprenticeship.
He lived the dream for 10 years but the end of the Cold War brought with it the prospect of massive cuts to the armed forces.
The writing was on the wall and he left to embark on a career in technical sales, once he’d overcome the prejudice against ex-servicemen as “all cropped hair and parade ground bluster” by showing one international manufacturer that he was a cut above the other candidates in his presentation and research.
That included buying a book from WH Smith and swotting up on interview techniques. He was ready with his answers as he’d anticipated many of the questions.
He also arrived at 9am on the dot although his interview was much later. He correctly predicted that there would be some no-shows and he would be able to demonstrate his keenness by stepping into the gap.
That clinical approach to tackling a challenge is fundamental to his success and he attributes it to his RAF training.
It’s called ‘correct sequence’ he said. There is only one correct sequence when you are putting on the undercarriage to a Harrier jet and it can be applied to entrepreneurship.
“Those who go headlong in because they have what they think is a good idea are looking down the wrong end of the telescope.”
They should be looking for what’s termed the “pain points” of their potential customers. Put simply: what craving or problem do they have that you can resolve?
Richard Branson took it on board with his tentative steps to mega success with small, informal record shops for post-hippy rock fans – one of the first was in the City Arcade Coventry.
He’d spotted a demand for a different approach to retailing albums, the shop as a hang-out for like-minded fans who enjoyed being part of a niche market.
Latest statistics reveal that two thirds of new businesses fail because their service or product wasn’t up to scratch or there wasn’t sufficient demand.
But sadly many do have a viable idea and have a potential demand but they fail through a lack of knowledge or preparation.
With the backing of the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP Growth Hub, 58-year-old Darin Tudor aims to reverse those stats.
His days among the high fliers of the RAF may be in the past but he’s banking on his ToolKit getting a new generation of entrepreneurs to the heights of success, in fact the ‘East Midlands Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2018’ was one of many to have gone through and used the Toolkit.
Fact file on the Entrepreneur Toolkit or ‘E-Kit’.
Is a complete self contained on-line and includes:
- Toolkit guide and work book (the knowledge and correct sequence)
- Your own business template (To complete using guide and workbook)
- A customer presenter model (To effectively sell your business)
A field tested and balanced mix of narrative, examples, top tip lists and ready to use templates
Qualification for successful completion
Level 4 in Developing a New Business Plan
Cost: The Toolkit costs £399, inc VAT< for the first year’s subscription.
For further information contact Celeste Clarke at Century PR on 02476 228881 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.