Emma Jones is founder and CEO of Enterprise Nation, which supports and connects small business owners across the UK.
She shares her insights with Two Zero both as the owner of a scaleup business and as a business growth expert, speaking from experience of leading an organisation which helps thousands of companies to grow, innovate and support each other.
What is the most important quality of a scaleup business leader and why?
The ability to surround yourself with people who can offer support on what can be a lonely and high-pressure journey. This requires a quality of understanding your strengths and engaging others in parts of the business that will benefit from their expertise. I’ve found it’s the only way to scale!
Who is the most inspirational scaleup leader you have worked with?
There are many whom I’ve never met! I’ve been inspired over the years by founders such as Martha Stewart (who I travelled to Australia to hear speak at an event) and learning from books charting the business stories of Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Jack Ma (Alibaba), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn) etc. When scaling, you’re always learning.
What common challenges do you see in scaleup businesses and how do scaleup leaders overcome these?
Speaking personally from experience of scaling Enterprise Nation to a 45 person business generating circa £8m per annum, I would say a key challenge is having to introduce processes that you need to mature as a business and making the move from team members being generalists to specialists.
What is the best piece of business advice you have ever received or given? Why was it important?
I’m a big believer in: ‘Focus on what you do best and outsource the rest’ which is advice I give to early stage through to scaling founders. It mirrors the best advice I’ve received which is to understand your superpower and get in the role where you can deploy it.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned working within scaleups, and how has this impacted you?
That it is vital to have a plan, get buy-in from your team, and just keep going. There has been a lot of talk on this subject recently but scaling founders really do need a bucket load of resilience and a positive mindset to get them through the tough days of growing a business.
What scaleup business do you admire the most and why?
Those who perfect their product, do a good job of selling well to bigger brands and the public sector, and then make a success of entering international markets, with a motivated team. These are tough things to do. I admire most the founders who are then prepared to give back and share how they achieved this with the next generation.
Which key metrics are most important for scaleups?
Revenue and profit! Not everyone would agree with this statement as many scale-ups are backed by external funding until they get to a point of profitability but I’ve always believed in growing a business via delivering revenue and a profit margin.
Why do you choose to work with scaleup business leaders?
Our job at Enterprise Nation is more to support earlier stage founders and small businesses. Not all of them want to become scale-ups (read above as to why!) but this is the great thing about entrepreneurship – you can choose when and if you want to scale.