Emma Jones’s story is a bit of an entrepreneurial legend: In 2000, after five years with accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, 27-year-old Emma Jones started up Techlocate.com with a business partner, and within 15 months she had not only grown the business, but sold it. Subsequently, she set up Enterprise Nation, co-founded Start Up Britain and has written 5 books.
So, it would be fair to say that when I went along to my first Enterprise Nation talk in October 2013, which was all about how to help companies ‘Go and Grow online.’ I was both excited and a bit awestruck about being in the same room as Emma Jones. Paul always tells me not to put people up on a pedestal but, hey, that’s not always that easy.
When I went along to the talk, my intention was to go along, learn something new, and meet some people. I had no intention of meeting Emma, let alone interviewing her, however, Gemma Billington (the editor of Absolutely Chiswick and Absolutely Richmond) had mentioned that she would love to feature an interview with Emma, and so the idea was in my head.
I must admit that I love interviewing inspirational people and getting a deeper insight into their lives. If the interview gives them an extra bit of exposure, it gives the magazine a kick-ass interview, and it inspires the people who read it – then it’s all win-win as far as I’m concerned!
The day after the talk (which was all good I might add) I took my courage in my hands and phoned the Enterprise Nation offices. More and more, I am of the opinion that if you want something in life, you need to at least ask for it. So, I phoned up, talked to the lovely receptionist, and told her my story. She said that she would pass my message to Emma, and that Emma would phone me later. I waited with bated breath. The thing was that Paul and I were going away to the New Forest the next day for a week, so if I didn’t speak to Emma then, I would need to pick things up later.
I phoned in the morning, and waited around for the phone to ring. Tick, tick, tick, the day ticked on… At 3pm, she called, but half way through our conversation, before we had arranged any details for the interview, we were cut off. When I phoned back, she was already on another call. I left a message, feeling unsure if I would actually get an interview, and then went away for a week. When we returned, I spoke to the lovely receptionist again, who passed my message and my email questions to Emma. Within a week, I had the answers and two high-resolution pictures in my inbox.
The interview came out in the January edition of Absolutely Richmond. I have taken a picture of the page which you can see below. How cool is that!
1. What gave you the courage to start Techlocate in 2000, and what was the first action step you took?
The year I started Techlocate my confidence was boosted by the whole excitement of the dot com boom. During that year the media was filled with stories of entrepreneurs creating new businesses enabled by the power of the web. I thought: ‘If these entrepreneurs can do it, then I can too!’ so I left a top job at Arthur Andersen to give it a go! Another factor which I think played a part in the confidence stakes is that my Mum ran her own business when I was growing up so self-employment felt natural. That was 13 years ago and I’ve been unemployable ever since!
2. Who helped and supported you in your first year of business?
Quite a few people. My family helped with moral support and former bosses at Arthur Andersen were very supportive too. You never forget the people who help you in that first year and in your first business. I also had a business partner, so all decisions were taken together and as we were both young, we had a Non Exec Director whose advice came in particularly handy when, 15 months into the business; we received an offer from a bigger company wanting to acquire us. The Non Exec played an invaluable role in advising on everything from the valuation of the company to how the sale should be structured.
3. You launched Enterprise Nation in 2006 to help people in the UK to start and grow their own home-based businesses. How does Enterprise Nation help Start Ups?
Enterprise Nation helps people turn their good ideas into great businesses, and we do this through providing lots of useful content on the website and in our books/ebooks/kits, by hosting many events from StartUp Saturday to the ‘Go and Grow Online’ series, by opening up funding through our partnership with Crowdfunder and, more recently, we have expanded the business to offer a voice to government for businesses who join us and want a say in ensuring the UK is the best place in the world to start and grow a business.
4. In March 2011, you co-founded StartUp Britain; the national campaign to encourage people to start businesses and to help existing one’s grow. Tell us about your role as campaign director.
It’s been an amazing experience and a role that’s required quite a bit of energy! Helping launch StartUp Britain with 7 other founders was a privilege and we’ve been pretty busy ever since; going on national tours, hosting StartUp events every month, opening PopUp shops and campaigning for half a million people to start a business … with this figure likely to be reached this year which is incredible! My role has been to raise the funds, motivate and manage the team and be the link with government who has supported our aims throughout. The most gratifying aspect of the role is hearing from people who have been inspired by the campaign to get started – and it’s been a pleasure working with the team that makes StartUp Britain motor from day-to-day.
5. StartUp Britain has now over 70 local champions countrywide; people like local entrepreneur Helen Roberts, who champions StartUp Britain Richmond. Just how important are local champions like Helen?
Champions like Helen are invaluable and a crucial resource to ensure the campaign can do its job. Helen has been amazing. She has hosted events, provided support and been a great participant when it comes to campaign events outside Richmond too. Helen has delivered in Richmond what we want to see in towns across the UK; a vibrant network of StartUps and growing businesses, working together to create a more entrepreneurial economy and community.
6. You are known as someone who makes things happen – what advice would you give to people who want to make their Start Up dreams happen?
Ha! I try my best to make things happen! My advice for anyone who is reading this and thinking of starting a business is this: take one small step. Do something that gets you one step closer to what you want to achieve. That could be talking about your idea to friends and family, writing a business plan, setting up a website or taking your product to a market stall. Because this is what business is all about – taking lots of small steps. Then one day you’ll look back and think ‘Wow. Look how far I have come!’
For more about Enterprise Nation: https://www.enterprisenation.com/
For the Jan Ed of Absolutely Richmond: http://issuu.com/zestmedialondon/docs/abs_richmond_jan_2014/1?e=1853878/5970103