This year’s Smarta 100 provides a fascinating snapshot of UK small business today: a cross-section of ingenious new ideas, individuals seeking self-employment after redundancy, the innovators of the cloud and crowd and the fast-growth big businesses of tomorrow.
From the weird and wonderful world of non-spill potties, pillows for long-distance lovers and non-tooth pulling toffee, to market changers like crowd-powered wine dealer Naked Wines, parcel innovator MyParcelDelivery.com and fast-growing retailer WedgeWelly, innovation and entrepreneurship are alive and well in Britain.
Many of this year’s winners have triumphed through adversity. Take Camille Johnson, who set up Pink Ribbon Lingerie after her mother’s experiences struggling to find attractive mastectomy lingerie.
Or Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes, who used their £20,000 redundancy pay-off from Woolworths to set up toy retailer Toy Barnhaus, now turning over £1.4million from three stores.
Business Matters are of course championing our own columnist Laura Rigney, with her business Pitcher House, to hit the top spot. If you agree, you can vote for her here
Proving the crucial role small businesses have to play in the future recovery of the UK economy, Smarta 100 revenues total over £65,000,000 with an average turnover of £692,000. They’re contributing more to the nation’s coffers than they’re borrowing too, with over half (51%) entirely self-funded.
On average, they are three years and two months old. They employ a total of 740 people, with 9% employing a staff of more than 20. Smarta 100 businesses tend to be running lean operations however, with a growing shift to virtual teams and networks of freelancers – 79% employ fewer than 10 people and 68% fewer than five.
The Smarta 100 also tells us about the people behind Britain’s brightest small businesses. This year’s winners are 55% male, 45% female, aged between 18 and 52 with an average of 33.
Commenting on this year’s Smarta 100 winners, Dragons’ Den star and Smarta board member Deborah Meaden – who wasn’t part of the judging process – said: “This year’s Smarta 100 has uncovered some superb small businesses, many of which I’ll admit I’d never heard of but have enjoyed discovering and am very much looking forward to meeting.
“What pleases me is that these awards are championing passionate and ambitious people with brilliant ideas who’ve acted on those ideas and turned them into flourishing businesses. These small businesses and individuals are hugely important and deserve our recognition and support.”
Simon Devonshire, General Manager, SMB for O2, said: “The final shortlist is testimony to the dynamism, variety and inventiveness of businesses that are operating and flourishing in the UK. At O2 we are passionate about the success of British business and so, with the Smarta 100 awards, O2 is especially proud to celebrate the use of technology through which these inspirational companies are achieving success. The awards provide a valuable platform for businesses to showcase their success and will hopefully act as a springboard for further growth.”
Smarta founder Shaa Wasmund added: “The quality of entries for this year’s Smarta 100 was ridiculously high. If anyone ever tries to tell you the UK lacks an enterprise or entrepreneurial mindset, point them to this list.
“We’re hugely proud of this year’s award winners. I’ve every confidence a significant percentage will double in size by the time we announce the 2012 winners!”
The winner will be presented with their £10,000 prize – courtesy of O2 – at The Smarta 100 Awards final on Wednesday 21st September at London’s IndigO2.
The evening will also see six special awards presented for the Smarta 100 companies deemed the best in the categories of Innovation; Technology; Social Impact; Use of Resources and Marketing. The shortlisted companies are now available to view online.
The special awards winners will receive prizes including mentoring sessions with former Dragon Doug Richard, MOBOs founder Kanya King, an iPad2 provided by Viking and a £1,000 worth of consultancy and training courtesy of RBS Mentor.
To view the full 2011 Smarta 100 and to vote for the O2 Smarta 100 business of the year, visit: www.smarta.com/100