Building a successful start-up

Emma Jones MBE founded Enterprise Nation in 2005 to support small businesses with the day-to-day things that just might make them thrive. Over ten years on, she’s created a community of entrepreneurs, and helped them do seriously big things. And seeing as she’s published books on her business tricks, we wanted to find out a few for ourselves.

"Fear of failure can put people off, but I’d say, just make a start."

In a nutshell, what do you do?

Enterprise Nation helps people start and grow their own small business. We run brand-activated campaigns and events up and down the UK offering support to small businesses face to face, but we also have an online platform where questions can get answered too. This means small business owners can come onto Enterprise Nation 24/7, tell us what they’re looking for and find relevant content, events, specialist advisers in their area, and also deals or offers.

What inspired you to set up in the first place?

There was an incredible self-employment boom happening in the UK, but not that much support available. The idea for Enterprise Nation came partly from personal experience in having grown my own business, but also being really inspired by a book called ‘Free Agent Nation’. It was all around the rise of the self-employed in the States, but the author questioned if the infrastructure was ready to help all of these businesses thrive. I thought there was a gap in the UK market for business support.

What stands out as your biggest success?

I think we’ve had lots of little ones, I feel our biggest success is to come.

What are your expectations for a workspace?

The aesthetics of the building, great views and amenities for the team are really important. We like to work in a nice, creative, bright, working environment, so we’re in Bruntwood’s Lowry House in Manchester for those reasons. It has a good community feel to it. The actual fit-out of the office was very high spec, and then there’s a lovely co-working space and communal kitchen on the same floor. We’re close to our clients, but also the team wake up and think, I’d like to go there today.

Do you think it’s important to have access to other like-minded businesses?

Absolutely critical, and this is the thing I think Bruntwood have done really well. They’re not just selling you desk space, it’s a desk space and access to a community, events and plugging in business support to workspaces. That’s becoming a very attractive thing, so I think Bruntwood have a really good head start on that. We also offer Enterprise Nation support to all Bruntwood tenants, the idea being hopefully we can help our neighbours to grow and prosper.

How do you find balance as a business between work and life?

The word balance implies it’s one thing or another and, for me, work and life do blend into each other, so I prefer to call it that. I’m in a position where I love my work so I don’t feel that it’s work or life. But just because I like working, I shouldn’t expect that of my team. We’ve created a flexible work environment at Enterprise Nation. Some of the team are very early morning starters, others not so much, but as long as the job gets done we just allow for everyone to build flexibility in their own life.

Does the work environment contribute to this?

What I like about the plans for Lowry is with the gym that’s coming in, there’s active space and then there’s workspace. All of that in one place will ultimately raise productivity levels. And it can be the smallest things, good coffee and free water on site really boosts productivity too.

"The role of mentors or coaches is absolutely invaluable to today's founder, having someone to talk to is really helpful."

How can entrepreneurs avoid burning out?

The role of mentors or coaches is absolutely invaluable to today’s founder, having someone to talk to is really helpful. I have a mentor, I can talk through any issues, and if work/life balance is one of them, that’s the kind of thing I would raise. Get a really strong peer group or find someone who can be there when you feel you’re under strain. I had something on my mind a couple of weeks ago, I shared it with my mentor, and immediately I felt better.

Three tips for someone who wants to start their own business?

The first one is maybe a bit obvious. Fear of failure can put people off, but I’d say, just make a start. Next, we’re seeing the rise of the side hustle, so hold onto your day job and build the business at nights and weekends. It sounds really boring, but the third is to do a business plan. The best businesses always start out with a route map, it gives a sense of direction and sense of achievement when you can look back on that plan and have hit those objectives.

What are the most common mistakes start-ups make?

It’s either spending too much money or not making enough sales. The business basics always kick in, successful businesses sell more than they’re spending. Cashflow is where we offer support most. Enterprise Nation’s big priority is how we help small businesses do their sales and marketing, give them access to new customers and make sure those customers keep coming back.

What personality traits do you need to succeed?

Dogged determination, patience, and a positive mental attitude.

Find out more about Bruntwood’s flexible workspace options, and all the support perks on offer to tenants here.

Got your own question? We know that all businesses are different and their needs change as they grow.

Ask now

A desk. A room. An HQ.
Or just passing through.
Just Ask.

Questions? Fill out the enquiry form on the next page and one of our advisors will be in touch as soon as possible.

Or give us a call on 0333 3232 238.

Ask now Call us Call us