Founding director and MD of Tradebox Stephen Bales has been selected by International software giant Sage to be part of a unique showcase of 50 veterans from across the world to form the Sage Power 50 (https://www.sage.com/au/invictusgames#power50). Ex-service men and women from across Australia, US, Canada and the UK who have endeavoured in starting and running their own businesses following their careers in the military share their own journeys from military to self employment.
Inspired by the run up to this year’s Invictus Games in Sydney, Sage who are the Premier Partner believe that by establishing Sage Power 50, the stories told will reach, touch and inspire future veterans to seriously consider starting their own businesses.
Stephen Bales’ story began in 1987 when he joined the Royal Navy at the tender age of 16. After achieving the rank of Leading Seaman (Radar), one of the youngest at 19 to achieve this rank. Utilising the skills of leadership, people management and analytical skills as a radar operator, Stephen was able to apply his knowledge and experience to his future positions.
In 2003 Stephen took the brave step to start his own business. Craving independence and success, Stephen launched Tradebox. The business provides order management, financial and stock control software for UK businesses selling online and is the market leader in integrating into Sage software.
Stephen said “The transition from the military to business owner was an adjustment for sure. However, the training I received in the Royal Navy set me up well to be super organised, focussed and hard working. Although I have never worked so hard as a business owner, I am now reaping the rewards in both income and lifestyle.”
Reflecting back on the early days, Stephen recalls “The first five years were the hardest. Creating and taking a product to market is slow and requires resilience and perseverance. These are two attributes I honed in the Royal Navy, digging deep on long shifts, working under intense pressure during drills and learning to be a consistent solid leader and member of a wider team.”
Tradebox allows retailers to connect to their online channels such as eBay, Amazon and their own websites, to a single software solution where they can control their online orders and coordinate stock levels. One of the principle selling points of Tradebox is the software provides integration with Sage, which removes the burden of data entry and financial analysis.
Stephen offers some business tips “When you are working with partners you need to be upfront and establish clear roles and responsibilities. Check your finances every day, establish where you business has been, where it is today, and where it is going. Keep a close eye on your competition and ensure you are clear, along with the rest of your team, what is unique about your offering and make sure you communicate it well across your messaging.”
Although Tradebox is a small team of 8 people, Stephen is very proud of their unparalleled customer service, reflected in exemplary reviews. As he explains “Tradebox is the UK’s number one accounts integration software for online retailers. We were voted the Reader’s Choice Award in the UK leading industry ecommerce publication.”
All development of the software is done in house, and the team are currently working on taking Tradebox from a desktop application to a cloud solution. Stephen sees the future for Tradebox as very bright, answering the needs of their customers and industry sector.
As he explains “I am so proud and pleased where the company is today. I have a fantastic team, who I treat with great respect and who I trust to be first class ambassadors of the Tradebox brand and service. To me that comes from the leadership skills I developed and honed during my years in the Royal Navy.”
Asked to sum up his transition from his time in the Royal Navy to running a business Stephen share “Leaving the world of the military and entering civvy street and starting a business can be daunting but with careful planning and a healthy dose of bravery, it can be the very best decision you can make. It can involve a ton of hard work and sacrifice, but the rewards can be exceptional.”