Entrepreneur Interview: Emma Jones

November 23, 2022

As part of our Entrepreneur Series, we had the pleasure of getting to know Emma Jones, Founder of Enterprise Nation. Established in 2005, Enterprise Nation exist to support people to start and grow their own successful businesses and representing their views to the government and media. Emma’s company is a vibrant community of small businesses and business advisers that exist to shortcut routes to trusted business support.


What was your background prior to founding Enterprise Nation?

After studying Law and Japanese at University, I joined Arthur Andersen which, at the time, was the world’s largest professional services business. I had five years of amazing training and experience before starting my first company at the height of the dot com boom in 2000. Within two years I sold this company and after working for the acquirer, decided to go again with launching Enterprise Nation. I’ve spent the past decade plus building Enterprise Nation into a company that is now a team of 50 people that delivers support each year to 700,000+ small businesses.


Where did your inspiration come from to set up your own business?

I was brought up by a Mum who ran restaurants so you could say entrepreneurship and self-employment is in my blood! My Aunts also ran businesses, so I never really knew anything else – my family had to find ways to earn a living and they did that through building their own businesses.


Considering the fierce competition in today’s business world, what makes Enterprise Nation stand from the crowd?

I would like to say it’s the strength of the Enterprise Nation community. We have spent years building content and training and a support platform for small businesses and we offer this support for free, every day. Small businesses come to us for advice and for a confidence boost and they trust us to deliver. We take that trust very seriously. So I think what sets us apart is the engagement of the community, our commitment to that community, and hopefully we are known for always looking for opportunities for small businesses even in the most challenging times.


What has been the most challenging thing you’ve faced since setting up the business and how did you overcome this?

There have been many. As the business has grown, the challenges keep coming but I think my greatest learning experience was not being too fast to hire people as I have made a couple of mistakes where I introduced the wrong people to the business at the wrong time. I seek advice from experts or a mentor on how to deal with situations that need honest talk and solving. Having difficult conversations is not my strong suit so I’m still learning how to master this. In the meantime, I now have the help of a great team for making hiring decisions!


Is there an entrepreneur that inspires you most, and if so, who is it and why them?

I read a lot and have books charting the lives of entrepreneurs from Martha Stewart to Jeff Bezos, Sir John Timpson and James Watt. Martha Stewart is probably my stand-out as she built a highly successful business through multiple content channels and mastered her art at a national level in the most demanding economy. Many people question me on this choice as she also had a stint in jail but reading about her early business building career is incredible learning for someone starting out.


Have you had to make any sacrifices to get to this point in your career? If so, what were they?

Probably but I don’t feel they are sacrifices. Most of my time and energy has gone into the business which has meant little time for relationships or to have children. This has worked for me and I’d like to think the commitment has helped lots more small businesses!


What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs looking to start up their own business?

I would say think about working for someone else before you start your own business so you can build confidence and connections. Start the business as a side hustle alongside the day job and this will give time to attract and connect with customers, perfect your product, and build sales. It’s a great time to be starting a business as there is so much support available. Just do it!


Rapid Fire

  1. Morning or evening person? Morning
  1. Three adjectives to describe your leadership style? They probably mirror the three values we have at Enterprise Nation which are; Trusted, Community-centred, Entrepreneurial.
  1. What’s top of your bucket list? I always say to the team I will die happy when we expand Enterprise Nation to Japan which is a country that helped me find my entrepreneurial way when I lived there for a year as a student.
  1. If you could have dinner with one person, past or present, who would it be? Jack Ma.
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