This month it’s World Entrepreneur’s Day (August 21) and frankly it isn’t a day I would have even associated with myself just a few years ago. Now it’s different.

There are many different definitions of what an entrepreneur is.


One dictionary definition of entrepreneur is:

a person who makes money by starting or running businesses, especially when this involves taking financial risks.


Another is:

an individual who creates a new business, bearing most of the risks and enjoying most of the rewards. The entrepreneur is commonly seen as an innovator, a source of new ideas, goods, services and business/or procedures.


To me, it means anyone who can see opportunities in business, takes a risk, or a leap of faith and goes for it.

Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes. For me, it’s not all about scaling up and multi-millions of earnings, although I think many people do make the link with earnings.

Often women are not thought of as entrepreneurs – usually by men, who think their business is too small, or is a hobby – and for me this is complete, utter nonsense and BS!

Five entrepreneurs I know and admire are:


James Phipps:

James is Swindon born, raised in Pinehurst, which locally is an area where expectations are perhaps lower than they should be.  In Swindon parlance, there was often a feeling that those who came from the ‘three Ps’ in the town (Pinehurst, Penhill or the Parks) were from lower income backgrounds and less likely to achieve. Over the years, James has proved anyone with that perception is wrong and, of course, he’s not alone.

At the age of 13, he decided to get a job to earn money for his family, and also buy himself a new pair of trainers. He started out with a great work ethic and has continued, allowing him to ‘retire’ at the age of 39 and he now works with charities and invests in businesses and their owners which appeal to him and that he feels are a ‘good fit’. James wants to add value and help others.

He was MD of Excalibur Communications from 2010, then CEO until 2017, when he sold the company, and after remaining on as Executive Director, he is, since 2020 a non-Executive Director.

He has supported many charities over the years, including as a Trustee for Wiltshire Community Foundation, an Ambassador for Jessie May, a Patron for Swindon 105.5, Board Trustee for Wiltshire Air Ambulance, and Chairperson for The Platform Project CIC.

In 2016 he co-founded, Younite Foundation, a charity to provide grants for young people in Swindon and Wiltshire, which also supports projects for young people in Kenya.

James has also invested in other businesses, allowing them to develop and grow.

Personally, he is very successful, wanting to give his family the best life he can. An entrepreneur and philanthropist who gives back to his community and beyond, which is so admirable.

His saying is: ‘Anyone can be successful. Be brave – give it a go.’


Kyle Raffo:

Kyle is the founder of Printing, promotional merchandise and branded workwear, Embello, which is based in the West Midlands.

He came from a low income background being brought up by his mum as a single parent. His mum Jill taught him that it wasn’t about ‘can’t afford it’ it was about ‘how to afford it’. As a result he worked hard as a kid to make extra money by selling snacks at school (for which he was eventually excluded but that’s another story!).

By the aged of 17, his passion for marketing led him to start his own business, working form his bedroom in Tamworth.  He won a place at Peter Jones’ Enterprise Academy, and was mentored by him and his team for a year.

In the 12 years since, Embello has grown, becoming one of the UK’s leading print specialists and winning several awards along the way. The idea behind the company is to tell clients stories through creative marketing materials, which include creative printed, embroidered goods and engraved merchandise.

Kyle is also an active public speaker and has given 100s of presentations, keynotes and workshops all over the world, on B2B content marketing, influencer marketing, print marketing, merchandising and the convergence of marketing and PR.

Like James, Kyle also likes to ‘give back’ and during the pandemic, he completed his qualifications as a paramedic, and is one of the paramedics featured in the tv series – 999 On The Frontline.


Kyle Holmes

Kyle is the Managing Director of Black Nova, an IT services and web design agency which he started in 2010, to support people with their IT both at home and in business. His wife, Danielle joined the business in 2015, and is now also a director.

His original dream was to be in the RAF, but when he ended up not able to achieve his goal he turned to technology. He had always been interested in technology, gadgets and future developments, so IT proved to be the path forwards.

Since starting the business, the company has developed and grown and, knowing Kyle there’s so much more to come.

Over the years the company have won several awards, including Recognised Leaders in IT Services – SME News Awards 2019; Best Web Design Agency, Wiltshire – SME News Awards

  1. The company also have Achieved Microsoft Partnership, UKWDA Status, and have been accepted into the Pro Web Design Association.


Anita Jaynes

Anita embodies what I see as an entrepreneur. After training in media communications and cultural studies, she worked as a PR consultant, before founding The Business Exchange South West back in 2013.

A business to business publication, it is now the most recognised business magazine, serving Swindon, Wiltshire, Bath and Somerset across two editions. The Business Exchange helps businesses connect and share their stories, in print, online, through networking and events.

In Swindon and Wiltshire, the magazine is bi-monthly, and in Bath and Swindon, quarterly.  Five thousand copies are printed with an estimated readership of 15,000 per edition and rising.

Not only has Anita founded the magazine, but she also set up The Wiltshire Techie Awards five years ago. The event is to showcase the amazing tech innovation we have in our area. The main companies in Swindon and Wiltshire all vie to win awards at what has become a prestigious ceremony.

As if running the magazine, and organising the Techie Awards isn’t enough, The Business Exchange also runs six business breakfasts a year, organises supper clubs, specialist roundtables and The Business Exchange South West Charity Conference & Expo.

Deservedly, Anita has been named as one of the UK’s most inspirational female entrepreneurs in the f:Entrepreneur #ialso 100 2022 list, run by Small Business Britain. And there are more exciting development to come. I am privileged to have worked with Anita as a features writer for several years.


Mandy St John Davey


Mandy is a woman who is hugely successful in what is often see as a man’s world. For more than 30 years, she has been a professional property developer, business mentor and property coach.  She has built up a large property portfolio in the UK and overseas. Only around 15% of those working in property or construction are female.

She comes from the coal mining community of the Valleys in South Wale, being inspired by her grandmother and mother who strived against a background of poverty and low income. Mandy has worked to provide herself with an income and life that matches her dream, and has succeeded in doing so, and now supports others to benefit from her knowledge and skills. Since 2015 she has worked as a mentor with the Princes Trust.

She has been the chairman of the UK’s leading Women in Property organisation, (2019 – 2020), which raises the profile and opportunities for women in the construction sector and is the first woman from Wales to hold the role.

From 2020, Mandy has been the National Mentoring Champion at women in Property, and was awarded Property Personality of the Year 2021. She has recently won the third Welsh Women’s Award 2022 – Women of influence.


Julianne Ponan


Julianne is the CEO of allergen free snack brand Creative Nature and she’s an inspiration as a women in business. In the fast-paced world of food and drink, Julianne has built a team and is carving out a niche offering quality products which are free of the top 14 allergens.

She took on Creative Nature (which was a struggling gift company) when she was just 22 and she had just got her teeth into her first full-time banking role in Beijing. However this young woman has always been entrepreneurial. From charging her family small change to do ‘jobs’ for them at family events ie. get their drinks etc to even selling ice cream in the hot weather at university (until her little venture was shut down). The seeds of her success were already there.

When she was asked to look at this struggling company she took up the challenge and transformed it into a challenger food brand which now exports products across the world, all catering for people who are health, nutrition and allergy conscious.

It’s a tricky sector and Julianne has faced numerous challenges including being told to pretend she’s not the boss (as men fare better) in meetings to pitch products or to secure capital funding to grow.

As well as being an inspiring business woman, Julianne has severe allergies herself which she’s had to cope with from being a toddler. She is allergic to all nuts, chickpeas, sesame seeds and many many other things. She has anaphylaxis so exposure to any allergens can trigger breathing difficulties as her airways well. She is also a campaigner for those living with allergies and intolerance – and numbers are on the rise across the world.



Next week the blog is about Just Because Day.