As founder of influential small business network Enterprise Nation, Emma Jones has become a leading voice for the small business community. For her tireless work to campaign for and promote enterprise, Business Advice has named her a key supporter amongst our Small Business Decision Makers list 2016.
Since launching Enterprise Nation originally as the home business website from her living room in 2005, Jones has risen to become a leading commentator and small business champion. Most recently appointed as one of the prime minister’s trade advisors, she played a vital role in establishing entrepreneurial campaign StartUp Britain in 2011, and in 2012 was awarded an MBE for services to enterprise.
our vision remains as true today as it did ten years ago, she told Business Advice in an exclusive interview. Through Enterprise Nation’s events, advice blog and membership, we aim to provide a voice for enterprise in this country.
The landscape for small businesses in the UK could not look more attractive for Jones. With half a million new ventures having been formed each year for the last four years, and with 606, 000 small firms formed in the twelve months to 30 November, she sees the UK returning to its entrepreneurial routes, with Enterprise Nation well-placed to become a light guiding the way.
entrepreneurship is in the DNA of British industry. Even in 2015 with the economic conditions that we’ve seen, more and more people have been starting out on their own, so it looks as though self-employment is here to stay.
As the government moves gradually away from delivering support directly to small business, Enterprise Nation is increasing its activity, evolving to reflect and react to what its members want, and attempting increasingly to act as a bridge between private and public sectors. For Jones, the private sector is perfectly able to provide the support necessary for small businesses to flourish, so why should the government step in?
we’ve never seen such a vibrant sharing economy in the small business sector, she said. The government’s role in setting the agenda for small firms to grow is important but should be modest.
we are in the minority of private sector organisations that welcome the current government’s measures to encourage a vibrant private sector market because we are confident in that we see big corporations stepping up to do more for small businesses. Why should the taxpayer pay for business support when large corporations and small firms are happy to help each other
Going forward into 2016, Enterprise Nation aims to increasingly plug the advice gap that exists for small business. ‘small businesses that get advice grow faster than those that don’t, she said, citing the US as a market where entrepreneurs don’t hesitate to ask for advice. In the UK, we think we can do everything ourselves. Entrepreneurs don’t want to ask for advice. We can make sure that small businesses get the right advice at the right time.
if you get the right advice at the right time you make the most of the opportunity to grow. The small firms of today are individualistic and technology-driven. We need to be delivering the right sorts of advice to them.
Helping small firms harness the power of the web is a priority for Jones going forward, as is encouraging more and more startups to sell to big brands as well as government. ‘selling to government will be the biggest sales opportunity for small business in the next few years, added Jones.
Enterprise Nation is also focusing on trade and export as a key area in which it can help the small business community continue to prosper. It’s Go Global? campaign has already introduced 100, 000 UK startups to exporting, and will see Enterprise Nation lead trade missions each year to connect small business owners with foreign markets.