From the top · 24 November 2016

Small Business Decision Makers 2017: The 30 business influencers leading future policy and enterprise promotion in the UK

It has never been more important to know who are in the position of being business influencers – those directing small business policy from both within the government and outside of it. That’s where are second annual Small Business Decision Makers list comes in. We’ve pulled together the 30 individuals who are widely respected and looked to for guidance and advice when it comes to deciding on the best rules and regulation for young enterprise.


Emma Jones – Enterprise Nation

Emma JonesAs the founder of small business network Enterprise Nation, Emma Jones has earned a reputation as one of the strongest campaigners for entrepreneurs and small enterprise in the UK. She is one of the key small business influencers regularly called upon by policy makers.

In July, Jones was appointed as the small business representative for the Crown Commercial Services – the procurement arm of government that oversees all public contracts. Jones was appointed to create a stronger dialogue between government and small companies – promoting the notion that government is “open for business” and working to bring more entrepreneurs into the public procurement process.

Under Jones, Enterprise Nation was one of 14 organisations that formed the recently launched Small Business Taskforce. In a recent interview with Business Advice, Jones stated that the taskforce formed to work on behalf of small enterprise through a “strength in numbers” approach.

“We are reminding government that small businesses need support. It is the power of collaboration – 14 organisations coming together to create a single dominant voice.”

The taskforce so far has lobbied government on the resident rights of European workers, cutting corporation tax for employees and for better exporting opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Amee Chande – Alibaba

Amee ChandeAmee Chande is the UK managing director for auction site Alibaba. She used 2016 to support stronger gender diversity in top roles in the retail sector, and continued to champion the possibilities available to small UK companies in reaching new international markets – particularly China’s emerging economy.

Through an advisory role, business influencer Chande helped to deliver government small business workshops to get entrepreneurs exporting to markets with high potential for trade. One of the aims of the workshops was to educate business owners on how to protect their intellectual property to keep their products protected and profitable.

Shane Nolan – Google

Shane Nolan One of the key tasks for the UK in 2017 is plugging the digital skills gap – ensuring that the workforce is effectively trained and capable to deal with the challenges of a modern economy.

Shane Nolan, Google’s UK director of SMEs, has overseen efforts by the corporate giant to provide free digital learning initiatives, such as The Digital Garage, to help business owners make the most of online opportunities.

The Digital Garage followed tools such as Google My Business and free AdWords access. Nolan told Business Advice in February of the company’s commitment to enhacing the digital skills of British entrepreneurs. “We work closely with digital charity initiative Go On UK, and we’ve partnered with the Great British High Street competition to offer free digital skills training,” he said. Small business owners should be making the most of the existing free tools with an eye on any new innovative products.

Initiatives managed by companies like Google have been welcomed, but it has been said that government also needs to address the shortage in digital skills – absent in 1.2m of the UK’s small businesses, according to Nolan.

Nicola Mendelsohn – Facebook

Nicola MendelsohnThe last year saw Facebook make strong movements to strengthen the platform’s business-growing capabilities, all spearheaded by Nicola Mendelsohn – its vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

For entrepreneurs looking to do business locally, the Marketplace tool indicated a further step into ecommerce, using an advertising platform to rival sites such as Gumtree. In September the social media giant rolled-out three new features designed to open leads for small business owners seeking access to international audiences.

Most recently, Facebook launched a “jobs” feature to its business pages, giving companies new online recruiting tools.

Mendelsohn used a recent speech at the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) annual conference to confirm Facebook would be hiring an extra 500 people in London – cementing its commitment to the UK in the aftermath of Brexit.

Geoff Mulgan – Nesta

Geoff MulganGeoff Mulgan continues to lead Nesta, the innovative charity that uses its strong research networks to lobby government on the interests of small enterprise.

Nesta hosts a range of online tools available to allow entrepreneurs to test ideas and understand audiences.

Under Nesta, the charity continues to play an important role in bringing small-scale innovation to the attention of bigger corporate investors, and remains a valuable resource to government in providing close insight and detailed research from the world of small enterprise.

Mulgan has driven important research into financing for small businesses, with the most recent development being an initiative developing a set of tools to provide comprehensive information about bank charges, service quality and credit availability.

Duke of York

Duke of YorkThe Duke of York spent a decade promoting UK businesses overseas until 2011, and since 2013 has used his Pitch@Palace event to accelerate business ideas of ambitious entrepreneurs.

The event awards winners by providing networks and connections to small tech companies with the potential for growth, supporting over 205 businesses in the last three years.

Speaking recently to our sister publication, Real Business, at the latest Pitch@Palace event, the Duke of York acknowledged the success of small UK enterprise in providing solutions to local problems. “If it’s good enough and can go big enough, that’s an added bonus,” he said.

The Duke of York has pledged that there is “more to come” from the initiative.

One to watch: Philip Salter – The Entrepreneurs Network

Philip SalterPhilip Salter is director of the Entrepreneurs Network – the think tank that works to act as a medium between small businesses and UK policy makers.

This business influencer has a background in business journalism, regularly contributing to City AM and Forbes magazine, and for the past year has acted as an advisor to Emma Jones’ Enterprise Nation network.

The Entrepreneurs Network was enlisted by former business secretary Sajid Javid in the summer to act as secretariat for a cross-party group tasked with channelling the main concerns of UK entrepreneurs into policy ideas. In leading the think tank, Salter is part of a group of up and coming business influencers that are coming to prominence.

Small business champions are the people who continue to bang the drum for young enterprise in Britain – read on to find out the voices you can expect to hear.

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.



Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.


If you’ve found the article above useful, but have a more detailed and bespoke question, then please feel free to submit a query to our expert. We at Business Advice will get in contact with them on your behalf and arrange for a personalised response. These questions and answers will then be collated on the site for any other readers who have similar queries.

Ask a question

From the top