Posted: Mon 14th Feb 2022
The last two years have been turbulent to say the least. And while small business owners have had to deploy a tremendous amount of grit and resilience during the pandemic, it hasn't discouraged other aspiring entrepreneurs from following their passion and starting their own businesses.
Indeed, COVID-19 has prompted what's become known as the Great Resignation – growing numbers of people deciding to take their career paths into their own hands and embrace work that matters to them.
Recent research has displayed a surge in start-up formations, demonstrating an enterprise revolution that appears to be accelerating. And aside from a global pandemic, we can clearly see why this trend is happening – our recent survey found that more than 80% of business owners are happier being their own boss.
Who needs a better incentive than that?
But it isn't all paradise, sadly. Sixty-five per cent of people we surveyed admitted that running a business is a lonely endeavour. At the same time, more than 90% said they'd like to see more emotional and practical help available. This shows that community and peer support is more important than ever.
On that note, we launched the StartUp UK programme at the beginning of 2022. Through the programme, we aim to inspire and support one million new businesses over the next three years.
Part of that support is celebrating small business owners that can inspire others that they can do it too. So, meet four Enterprise Nation members who we're head over heels with and we know you'll love too.
And to celebrate Valentine's Day, read their stories of admiration for the peers and partners who have supported them along the way.
Christian Azolan, visual artist
My fiancé Konrad has always been my biggest supporter and is the glue that allows my business to run. He doesn't want or need to be the face, but without him my business wouldn't function and grow.
I do the art, he does the finances. He keeps my business ticking, and he allows me to live out my best creative life.
He doesn't just do, he teaches me and gives me freedom to enable me to be better, always.
The connection is important because it's true and honest – he keeps me in check and tells me how it is. That's why it works and he will always be my secret weapon!
Victoria Jenkins, founder of Unhidden
Kate Millar is who I want to give a shout out to. She knew I was struggling financially in early 2020 so gave me part-time work for her amazing company Antipodream.
The tasks she set me have directly benefited my own business, as I got to see the back-end of Shopify and I learnt about getting PR for a product-based business.
It's been really important to have a friend further down the road with their own business, as they understand the unpredictable and draining nature of being a small business owner. Knowing I have someone who 'gets it' really helps me.
Anouska Francis-Keeble, Cornish Surfer Co
The Cornish Surfer Co brand was born from a quiet little fishing village on the south coast of Cornwall. It's where I first met my partner and where we always return to surf the waves.
I was so lucky that we could integrate Matt's photography skills into the business, as I have very limited skills when it comes to taking photos.
Matt captures the lifestyle and the whole essence of the brand through his images. All I have to do is choose the location and tell him what products I want shooting. I then use these photos every day in my social media posts, blogs and on my website, so they're essential to boosting brand awareness and sales.
Somehow, he still allows me to be the boss!
Abhilash Jobanputra and Gabriel Unger, Chai Guys
Gabriel and Abhilash were always destined to create something special.
"Gabriel and I became good friends in 2016, when we were working in the corporate world at Deloitte," Abhilash says. "The Indian in both of us – Gabriel lived in Delhi for six years, and I'm from there originally – just started wondering why there was no good chai place in London.
"A trip to India essentially changed everything. We stayed up to 3am every single night discussing this idea. And on the last day of the trip, we came back with a suitcase full of tea and essentially experimented for eight months afterwards, finally launching the concept.
"We were both on the same page about pursuing it 100% and never looked back."
Gabriel and Abhilash remained resilient during the COVID-19 outbreak when they opened a new outlet in Covent Garden and then needed to shut up shop completely.
They've since gone on to diversify with online deliveries and see themselves expanding to different areas of the UK and giving people a taste of something they've never had before.
Access support to start your business
Visit the StartUp UK hub for resources that give you the education and inspiration to get started on your entrepreneurial journey.