Meet the Local Leader: Dan Martin

Meet the Local Leader: Dan Martin

Posted: Thu 14th Dec 2023

Enterprise Nation is on a mission to take the loneliness out of entrepreneurship. Our local meet-ups offer a ready-made support network to small business owners across the UK and Ireland.

These monthly meet-ups wouldn’t exist without our army of Local Leaders – amazing individuals passionate about supporting small businesses and committed to their local communities.

Here, we meet Dan Martin, your Bristol Local Leader.

Tell us about your business.

I'm a freelance journalist and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I'm also Enterprise Nation's news reporter and the host of the Small Business Sessions podcast.

I've been a journalist for 22 years and worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups. In January 2020, I decided to go freelance, announcing it in a LinkedIn post and within two weeks, I had my first client, who I still work with.

In addition to working with many clients related to small business, and small business support, I also regularly host events. In total, I've hosted over 100 events, including conferences with an audience of hundreds for international brands, such as Xero and Facebook and live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street.

When did you first come across Enterprise Nation?

I first met Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, when I was covering start-ups and small businesses and we used to discuss what was going on in the sector.

I officially came on board as head of content for Enterprise Nation during the 2016 general election week. However, after three years, I decided to go freelance but continue to cover news and politics for the platform.

How long have you been a Local Leader?

It was the early version of Local Leaders. Emma wanted the brand to have more of a presence outside of London, so the team agreed that local events were a great way to meet entrepreneurs and represent Enterprise Nation in the city.

I volunteered to host a meet-up in Bristol in 2016, and there were others in Birmingham and Manchester. The format is still pretty much the same. I never wanted to have a speaker on a topic at these events. So, you just turn up and talk about what you want to. It can be something as massive as 'My business is about to fail' to something as minor as 'What is a good CRM system?'. Everyone then provides their input.

What can entrepreneurs attending a meet-up for the first time expect?

It is a place where entrepreneurs can have a natural, honest conversation. It's not about pitching and those who turn up to pitch, don't really fit.

It is a friendly group and I try to set the scene immediately. I start with an introduction, stating that you don't have to do a hardcore sales pitch. It's just a conversation and you can chat about anything. You might feel you don't have a challenge, but you'll probably find once you start talking about what you do, the conversation just develops. Equally, if you don't want to speak, you can just listen. Generally, you'll find that by the end, they do want to speak.

I always host the meet-ups at 10:00 am because they fit with school runs or sometimes people bring their kids. The meetings run for two hours and every other month I host them in person at a different local cafe. They are in the same format as the online ones but often attract more people.

What do you bring to these meetings as the Local Leader?

I like to think I'm a good host as it's kind of what I do I host events as a journalist. I think a journalist is quite a good person to host these because we're naturally inquisitive and good at asking questions. If people are a bit nervous and don't know what to say, you do need somebody who can get a conversation going, especially when they are new to networking.

Although I am originally from London, I have been here for 20 years. I am an adopted Bristolian and am committed to showcasing what this city has to offer. Bristol is an amazing entrepreneurial city and it is such a nice place to run these meet-ups in.

What's the small business scene like in Bristol?

There's so much going on here. There's a massive tech sector in the city, the third biggest tech ecosystem in the UK. It also has a massive food scene and is a big creative city. Aardman of Wallace & Gromit is based in the city.

Bristol has Gloucester Road which at one time was the longest street in Britain with independent businesses, restaurants and a lot of craft shops. It has a very creative and independent spirit.

What major challenges are businesses in Bristol facing right now?

I suppose businesses here have all the usual challenges that every business is facing, from access to finance and cash flow challenges to finding customers. Given that Bristol has a lot of independent businesses, the pandemic was super challenging for Bristol businesses on the high street.

A general discussion that comes up in meet-ups is about how Bristol isn't the greatest at bigging up Bristol. We all know it's great, but we don't necessarily talk about it widely enough outwardly.

Tell us about small business successes that you've heard about in your area (or at your meet-ups).

Yarka Krajickova is one of our regulars and started coming to meet-ups early on in her self-employment career and even brought her kids along. I encouraged her to get more involved in Enterprise Nation and she has hosted many Lunch and Learn webinars and even won some clients from them. She spoke at the StartUp Show last year and got a client because of it.

I've watched her go through the Enterprise Nation journey and what's been nice is she continues to come to the meet-ups, which shows that they still have value even when you are further along in your journey.

Another regular, Ruth Bradford, founder of The Little Black & White Book Project, came to her first meet-up in 2017 or 2018 and was nervous. Back then, Enterprise Nation used to run the Female Start-Up of the Year and we all encouraged her to take part. She made it to the finals and ended up winning. Now when she turns up to meetings, she gives loads of advice to entrepreneurs. It is nice to see it come full circle.

Enterprise Nation: Small business local meet-ups

Small business local meet-ups with Enterprise Nation

Local meet-ups take place every month. Find your nearest and reserve your place

Hi, I am Amanda, Enterprise Nation's content manager.

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