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Advice on how to scale up your business

With over 5 million small businesses operating in the UK, an increasing number are looking to scale. Enterprise Nation founder, Emma Jones, speaks about how she’s managed scale in the business and how technology has played a role.

What is the number one thing that has impacted the growth of your business?

The acceleration in the number of people starting their own business! Our job at Enterprise Nation is to support anyone to become their own business and grow a successful venture. As the number of small businesses operating in the UK has hit a record high, this has meant our market has grown – and so have market requirements. When we started a decade ago, business owners digested information via books and blog posts. As the number of broadcast platforms has increased, so have our channels to market and we now deliver business advice via Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube, a podcast – and still blogs and books! As the market has grown, we have grown with it.

What was the turning point for your business?

There hasn’t been a turning point as we’re still very much on the journey! Ten years ago we set out to build the UK’s best business support platform and network – we remain on the road to doing that.

What is your favourite piece of technology right now?

It’s probably Trello. I use this to keep on top of my ‘to do’ list and we’re starting to use it more in the company to ensure everyone knows what each other is doing and it’s useful for our development pipeline. As your team grows, it’s essential to introduce technology to aid communication so you don’t end up having more people doing less work!

How has technology facilitated your business growth?

We have been big adopters of many different forms of technology; from Eventbrite which powers our events, through to Mailchimp for emails, Stripe to accept payments and Xero for accounting. What we’re now moving to is a Microsoft stack of technologies to build a platform that will seamlessly connect small businesses with trusted advisers, and gather data on behaviour so we can better target business support at a personal level. We are taking on a tech team to launch and manage this which is a significant investment for us as a business – we’re confident it’s a move that will not only produce a much better result for our members, but also facilitate our own growth.

What’s been the biggest challenge to overcome for your business?

Realising I can’t do this alone. I started Enterprise Nation thinking I could grow a significant business with a workforce of less than 5 people – it’s taken me a long time to realise this wasn’t quite possible! We still have a commitment to staying small, in terms of headcount, but a bigger team has definitely enabled us to do more and scale. I’ve had to learn to take my own advice which is to focus on what I do best and hire great people to do the rest – and then keep them happy so they feel motivated to deliver. This hasn’t necessarily been a challenge but it has been a steep learning curve in how to become a leader of a team, whilst maintaining the passion for your product, which is often the reason why people start a company in the first place.

How do you introduce flexibility into your working life?

This is my least favourite question in business! My work is my passion and hobby so I don’t mind spending most of my time on it! Possibly the only time I’m not thinking about work is when I’m running – and that’s just because I’m then only thinking about how I take my next breath! 

How is your business set up to succeed in a mobile first world?
Our website is mobile optimised and we are increasing output on mobile platforms such as Instagram. We are always asking our members how and where they want to access support and content for their business. This influences our development schedule.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given when running your business?

That it will take longer than you think!

What do you think your business will your look like in 2020?

Great question! We have a 3 year business plan, commencing in 2018 so we’ve got a clear vision of how we’d like the business to look in 2020. It involves us harnessing technology to deliver world class business support to an increasing number of small businesses. The new platform will crunch data in a way that the more we know about how an Enterprise Nation member’s business is performing and transacting, the better we’ll be able to support their requirements. This also means we’ll gather data on what’s working when it comes to the type of advice that delivers the greatest return and this will hopefully play a role in supporting national policy so the UK can truly claim to be an Enterprise Nation!

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