Yawn were thrilled to be invited to GS1 UK’s Online Seller Summit to discuss business and support for SMEs this summer. Kicking off the day was Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation - a business network on a mission to create an entrepreneurial and inspiring society in the UK, aiding businesses to develop and grow. Fascinated by Emma's story, we had to find out more.
How did your career kick off and what drew you to supporting small businesses and building Enterprise nation?
You could say my career started when I was 12 when I started working for my Mum! I think this is where the passion for small business started – I was brought up by someone running businesses so self-employment felt like second nature. My career continued when I left University and joined Arthur Andersen, which, at the time was the world’s largest professional services company. It was an incredible training ground and five years later I left to start my first business, Techlocate.com . After selling that company relatively fast, Enterprise Nation was born, and so with it the desire to help other people start and grow their own business.
We can imagine no day’s work is the same, but what would you say have been the most memorable moments in your career to date?
Wow. This is a tough question! Memorable moments have included; the day we did the deal to sell my first company – that had been a 2 year journey and I have many people to thank for the lessons learned. Then there was the day Enterprise Nation went live online, the day my first book was published, and then hearing from the thousands of people we’ve supported on their own entrepreneurial way. Launching StartUp Britain as a national campaign was also a special day. I don’t mean to sound trite but every day is pretty special as we are very fortunate to be able to help others achieve their dream and that brings reward on a daily basis. The day I stop enjoying that feeling is the day I give up!
What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve been given throughout your career?
This one is easy - I’ve had two great pieces of advice. The first is that building a strong and sustainable business will take longer than you think, and the second was an entrepreneur once writing on a napkin the three areas in which your time should be balanced; business development, customer care, and admin. I thank both the people who gave me this advice – their words have remained with me for years.
You’ve spent a large majority of your working life as your own boss and it’s clear that your work is your passion, but what advice would you give to an entrepreneur or even nine to fivers to manage their work whilst making time for themselves?
On this, I’m not the best person to ask. My work is my passion and my hobby so I’m happy to commit to it all the hours it takes. For those who need to create a sense of separation between what’s work and what’s not, I’d say find separate space ie work in your work space and live in your living space. Create space for yourself by pursuing things you enjoy in your down time – whether that be reading, sport, music or whatever it takes!
On the occasion that you have time completely to yourself, how do you like to relax? Can you name a special place you like to visit?
Relaxation comes from weekends on the river in Bermondsey and at home in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. I also make a point of going away at least twice each year – alone – to plan what’s next for the business. My best planning is done with a good view; whether that be in a bustling city or overlooking a big sea. It works every time in helping me come up with plans for what next – that, and a really good business book!
Lastly, what other female leaders or entrepreneurs are you inspired by?
My Mum has always been an inspiration plus entrepreneurs of both genders including Martha Stewart, Mark Dixon, Jon Moulton and Jack Dorsey, amongst others. We are fortunate in this day and age that we have so many entrepreneurs from whom we can learn!