Posted: Thu 13th Oct 2022
Enterprise Nation is on a mission to take the loneliness out of entrepreneurship. Through our online local meet-ups, we're offering 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 who are passionate about supporting small businesses, and are committed to their local communities.
Here, we meet Steve Jebson, your West Sussex Local Leader.
Steve, tell us a little bit about yourself.
My very first job was at Debenhams in Sheffield. I had a Saturday job that saw me working in the childrenswear and lingerie departments. You can imagine the ribbing I used to get. That was the first of many roles in the world of retail.
My career officially started when I moved to London, where I worked as a buyer for Sainsbury's. Here I learnt a lot about process, discipline and brand. I then moved back to the north, where I joined Asda as a senior buyer, closely followed by a stint at Rank Hovis, where I worked in sales, marketing and acquisitions.
I then moved to Hong Kong for seven years, running the commercial team of the largest supermarket in in the country. Upon returning to the UK, I moved into the role of commercial director at Superdrug. I was responsible for rebranding the company, moving them online, getting them back on TV, and launching their loyalty card.
Having grown slightly bored of retail, I made a shift to hospitality, working for Greene King as Group Commercial Director. I then joined Matthew Clark, the UK’s biggest drinks wholesaler.
It was then that I decided to do something for myself. I became a business coach. The biggest thrill for me is helping business owners to rediscover the love for their business, as well as helping them work out what they actually get from it – and how to get it. I spend a lot of time 'in the detail' of every one of my clients' businesses; I very much see their business as my business.
Outside of work I love to cook (and eat), and I like good wine. I'm Sheffield born and bred, and I follow Sheffield United through thick and thin. Even when I was living in Hong Kong I would come back for at least one game every year.
What inspired you to become an Enterprise Nation Local Leader?
I believe that small businesses can take on the big boys – and win. But they need to collaborate, share, support and learn from each other.
That collaboration, along with a closeness to their customers, is something that larger companies often lack. Yes, they benefit from economies of scale, but that's not enough for most modern consumers. Big isn't always better.
Enterprise Nation is the best place for small businesses to learn, stay abreast of the latest business news and developments, and access the highest-quality advice.
Tell us a bit about the small business scene in and around West Sussex.
West Sussex has one of the most varied business scenes in the UK. From technology start-ups to high-end vineyards, we have businesses of all types. The impact of COVID-19 was huge, not least because Gatwick Airport sits at the heart of the region, but the resilience, resourcefulness and tenacity of every business I've met has been amazing.
What challenges are businesses in your area facing?
First of all, people. Businesses are really struggling to fill vacancies, recruit the right people, and plug their skills gaps. Staff retention and upskilling are key.
The other big issue is the uncertainty that they're feeling. We're experiencing change at an unprecedented pace, and it's difficult for business owners to keep up with that.
The economic and political landscape has become difficult to predict, and many businesses are worried about the impact of inflation and rising interest rates.
Having said that, my view is that one business's challenge is another business's opportunity. The question is, how do we turn them into opportunities?
We love celebrating the 'small wins' of the Enterprise Nation community. Are you able to share a few success stories from the West Sussex local meet-up?
It's always a joy to see meet-up attendees grow in confidence. One member in particular springs to mind. When she first joined, she'd only recently set up her business, and was yet to win her first customer.
She didn't say a lot in those early meetings, but over time her confidence has soared. Drawing on support, tips and experiences from the rest of the group, she's grown her network, found new business, is an active contributor at every session, and is now able to support other members.
Another of my regular attendees has really impressed me with their tenacity and perseverance to be successful in their niche. Every month we talk about their speciality and how they're continuing to push hard to be successful.
They're an inspiration to the whole group. It hasn't been easy for them, but by sharing their challenges with the group we've been able to offer several connections and opportunities.
Why should small business owners in and around West Sussex consider joining your monthly meet-up?
The West Sussex meet-ups are fun, supportive, insightful and, most of all, giving. There's never any selling – just sharing of knowledge and experiences.
Spending an hour away from your business is a positive thing to do; to recharge your batteries, be inspired, and spread some joy.
Small business local meet-ups with Enterprise Nation
Local meet-ups take place every month. Find your nearest and reserve your place