There are so many entrepreneurs who have inspired us in 2016 but we thought we'd ask business owners to name theirs. Here are some of this year's business heroes. 

Meet lots of business heroes at StartUp 2017, the biggest start-up show of the New Year in London, Bristol and Birmingham on 14 January. Find out more and book your ticket here.

Richard BransonSir Richard Branson

"He talks a lot about mindset, employee retention and forward movement and proves the viability of every piece of advice he offers in his companies. He has a brilliant habit of breaking records and sharing the ways he accomplished those feats. I respect Mr. Branson because he doesn't just walk the walk, he runs." 

Sammy Blindell, How to Build a Brand

Mark PriceMark Price, former CEO of Waitrose

"He recognised an issue and made the change which benefited so many small companies. The company changed payment terms from 45 days to seven days for all suppliers under £100,000 which was a huge benefit for us."

Brian Watt, Sir Hans Sloane

Theo PaphitisTheo Paphitis

"Theo Paphitis is a great supporter of small businesses and even hosts awards to actively support a new crop each week (Small Business Sunday). He was one of the few during Brexit who put his personal feelings aside to voice his belief that, no matter the outcome, we'd all be fine and that there was no need to panic. Too few business people were able to put their personal feelings aside to keep a nation of smaller business owners calms through their vast experience, and it was appreciated that he kept a level head throughout." 

Elaine Burns, Wear Eponymous

Melanie Bryan ObeMelanie Bryan OBE 

"The most amazing woman. She has supported over 2,000 small businesses, social enterprises and charities to grow, helped them win over £167m of contracts and grants, delivered her seventh annual North West Women's Enterprise Day (one of the top 15 UK contributions to Global Entrepreneurship Week) to 200 women, entirely through volunteers and donates half her time to volunteering. A true inspiration!"

Donny Bryan, A Man For All Seasons

Bruce WalkerBruce Walker, We Are The Future 

"Bruce has such vision at such a young age; he is amazing! He sees the importance of team work within the walls of your own company and the potential that can be gained from businesses working together in order to grow."

Sarra Bejaoui, SmartPA

Jo MaloneJo Malone 

"She is an incredible inspiration to me. I heard her speak at the Enterprise Nation Beauty Exchange and have admired her ever since. Her book is on my Christmas list!"

Lorna Bladen, Luna Events

Martha Keith, Love Give InkMartha Keith, Love Give Ink

"Martha is a hardworking and focused business woman, with a fantastic business and a drive that saw her recently co-host an event in Chiswick with none other than Cath Kidston speaking. Martha is a big champion of Small Business Saturday and I know she's going to take her business a long way." 

Steph Douglas, Don't Buy Her Flowers

TimpsonsTimpsons

"I continue to be inspired by the company, especially their recruitment process of seeking employees from those who have been through the prison system. I like the fact that each branch is run with a great deal of autonomy and the owners make business decisions and deals. It makes getting my shoes re-healed a pleasure."

Lisa Malyon, Lisa Malyon Draws

Robot Needs HomeJohn Helps from Robot Needs Home Collective, Handmade Festival and Great Central Magazine

"He has really boosted the reputation of the music industry in Leicester and created more of a community spirit with the magazine, allowing organisations and bands that would go unnoticed before to reach out to a wider audience."

Elisabeth Barker-Carley, Dreaming In Colour Productions

Debbie Williams, John Williams Heating ServicesDebbie Williams, John Williams Heating Services

"She runs a busy heating and plumbing company with her husband John and all of the work that entails. She's integrated in her local community and is president of Chippenham Chamber of Commerce because she truly cares about her local business community. She embraces local events and charities by raising money for the less fortunate and she stands up on a weekly basis for small businesses, their challenges, their successes. Personally she embraces each story which comes her way and is a driving force for change in Wiltshire. She's not afraid of speaking out nationally on issues and demonstrates how one person can be a force for change and success."

Fiona Scott, Fiona Scott Media Consultancy

Lee ColeLee Cole, Paint 360

"He won the Voom Impact award. His recycled paint business makes great turnover and a positive difference to the planet."

Chris Forbes, The Cheeky Panda

Meet lots of business heroes at StartUp 2017, the biggest start-up show of the New Year in London, Bristol and Birmingham on 14 January. Find out more and book your ticket here.

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