Top 10 Most Influential Entrepreneurs in the UK

Innovation is a thing for which the majority of us spend our lives searching and yet, is something that only a very few manage to attain. Even though we are constantly being propelled forward in terms of technology and invention, the minds behind the magic seem to be few and far between. Whilst thousands hope of following an entrepreneurial path, only a few genuinely achieve it.

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The world over, we are influenced by a very small minority of thinkers and achievers who, by approaching how we do things in a very different way, influence the ways in which the masses carry out their lives. The UK might not rank high in terms of geographical mass, but it is nonetheless innovative. Per area of space, it is home to some of the most important and influential entrepreneurial minds in the world, and continues to be a leading light in innovation in all industries. The UK might be small, but it sure is mighty, and these influential entrepreneurs are merely proof of the fact.

1. Richard Branson

Possibly the most famous entrepreneur in the world, it’s little surprise that Richard Branson tops the UK’s most innovative minds. The brain behind the behemothic Virgin Group empire, Branson has ventured into the music, transport, drink and entrepreneurship industries over the course of his career. Now amongst some of the most powerful companies in the world, it doesn’t look like Virgin’s winning streak is going to cease any time soon. Despite a few setbacks along the way, the company is still making waves across the world, and is a benchmark of success for most aspiring entrepreneurs. Known as Dr. Yes, Branson is cut a little differently from most other entrepreneurs, famously loathing ties and suits. Living on his own luxury island, he has truly escaped the rat race, and continues to run the world from his very own slice of paradise.

2. Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham

Once a fifth member of one of the most popular girl groups in the world, Victoria Beckham has come on leaps and bounds since the early days. Ever since she split from The Spice Girls in 2000, Beckham has continued to make her presence felt across the world, and as the brains behind a huge fashion empire, she certainly is not one to mess with. The launch of Beckham’s eponymous fashion label in 2008 was a relatively low-key affair and whilst it did stir some media attention, it wasn’t anywhere near the kind she achieves today. After a season or two, however, the fashion industry began to listen up and ever since the release of her acclaimed 2011 collections, she has been a solid part of the serious fashion community. Fronting both fashion and charity-led businesses, Beckham is a powerhouse to be reckoned with and has truly left her stamp on the professional world.

3. Duncan Bannatyne

Scottish philanthropist, entrepreneur and author, Duncan Bannatyne is a stalwart presence in the business industry. Owner of the hugely successful Bannatyne Group, Bannatyne has successfully launched hotel chains, health spas, property collections and transport businesses, all whilst committing to charity and bettering the community. Famous for his seat on the British entrepreneurial programme Dragon’s Den, Bannatyne has become a well-loved face in the country’s professional scene, and is responsible for the successful launch of many smaller businesses in the British economy. Having been awarded a much coveted OBE, Bannatyne is a positive role model across the country, and continues to campaign for anti-smoking laws in the UK.

4. Brent Hoberman

British people across the country have come to rely more and more on the fruits of entrepreneur Brent Hoberman’s labours. Mind behind the successful booking website, Hoberman has made travel for Brits an utter breeze, and fronts the belief that our spontaneity shouldn’t be to the detriment of the places in which we choose to stay. Managing to survive the bursting of the dot-com bubble in the late ‘90s, Hoberman has gone from strength to strength and seems to above potentially damaging change in the British economy. Since, Hoberman has fronted a number of other successful businesses, including online furniture and interiors site Like many other mega-entrepreneurs, Hoberman has been recognised with an OBE, awarded for his contribution to business and the British professional sphere.

5. Theo Paphitis

The second former chair on BBC hit Dragon’s Den, Theo Paphitis is a businessman as admired as he is feared. At the top of the British retail-management world, Paphitis is the man behind hugely successful company Theo Paphitis Retail Group. Under its wing, the company has the presence of a number of major retail companies, including Robert Dyas, Ryman, Red Letter Days and Boux Avenue in the UK. Paphitis doesn’t just serve the commercial industry, though, and across the years has fronted a number of successful charity schemes. As well as raising money for Comic Relief, Paphitis also leads The Paphitis Charitable Trust, which hands out fees from his TV appearances, speeches and books to children’s charities.

6. Peter Jones

A behemoth of the digital industries in the UK, Peter Jones, a force to be reckoned with and across the country, is recognised as a figure of innovation and inspiration. Looking forward to the businesses that the next generation will make their own, Jones always has his eye on the future, and is well known for his commitment to technology and all things digital. Entering the industry with a series of self-titled PCs, Jones quickly moved on to other things and over the years, has fronted roles for phone companies in the UK. Jones isn’t just about technology, however, and in 2009, he launched the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, a school designed to teach entrepreneurial capabilities to students in the UK. Jones is an entrepreneur for the next generation, as much as he is for the current one.

7. Lord Sugar

Perhaps one of the most famous entrepreneurs in the world, Lord Alan Sugar is as renowned for his appearance on The Apprentice, as he is on his own business ventures. An entrepreneur on a mission, Sugar is characterised by his driven attitude, constantly pushing for the next big thing and anticipating the future of international business. A solid member of the Billionaire’s Club, Sugar is one of the most successful people in the country, and can be found in a number of diverse business spheres. Initially founding electronics company AMS Trading in 1968, Sugar has been in the professional sphere for some time, and clearly knows his way around a number of industries. Since his early success, he has since founded Amsair, Amsprop and Amscreen, amongst other successful companies. The proud owner of English football club Tottenham Hotspur, Sugar isn’t all about work, either.

8. Deborah Meaden

In business, very few women make it to the top and in a world amongst men, Deborah Meaden is more than holding her own. One of the most powerful business owners in the country, Meaden’s professional efforts are recognised across the UK, and have earned her something of an entrepreneurial reputation. The business mind behind a lucrative family holiday company, Meaden has had her finger in a number of other holiday and leisure pies over the years. A renowned presence in Dragon’s Den, Meaden has also invested in a number of successful smaller businesses, giving them the necessary financing in order to build their status. The entrepreneurs’ entrepreneur, Meaden is certainly one to keep watching.

9. Jamal Edwards

One of the youngest entrepreneurs in the country, Jamal Edwards has made a huge splash in the national and international business spheres. At the age of just 24, Edwards has already reached the kind of success the many older businessmen would simply dream of and, despite his achievements, he doesn’t look set to stop any time soon. Edwards’ company SB.TV was launched when he was a young teenager, allowing young people to publish their own video clips on the internet, and gain the recognition they deserved for their talents. A voice for the young generation, Edwards has been responsible for altering the national perception towards some youth, proving that just because an individual is young, or underprivileged, it doesn’t mean that they won’t amount to extraordinary things.

10. Pete Cashmore

If the 2010s were about anything, then surely it was the viral news site. With more and more popping up every day, there is clearly a demand for the type of content they are creating and those who were at the start of the online trend are more than reaping the benefits. Pete Cashmore was one of the lucky few, having founded news site Mashable in 2005. Since its inception, the site has gained a huge international following, and now enjoys a status as one of the top trending sites on the internet. Proving himself as an entrepreneur, Cashmore developed Mashable from being a tech news site, into the global media company that it is today. Considered one of the most influential voices of his generation, Cashmore is one to pay attention to.

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The life of an entrepreneur is no easy matter. Whilst we might believe that their working day is relatively relaxed, the very opposite could not be more true. Although these business people enjoy the success that most of us could only dream about, they continue to strive for more, never content to stay still. The time for the entrepreneur is now and in the UK, the most innovative minds are having their say, whilst reaping the benefits.

City AM