Who is the most inspiring UK entrepreneur?

Christine Telyan, CEO of UENI of London, at her offices in Hammersmith

Sir Richard Branson is the UK’s most inspiring entrepreneur, followed by Lord Alan Sugar, but many Brits are inspired by US tech giants.

A recent survey conducted by London tech company UENI asked 1,078 UK business owners to name one entrepreneur who inspired them.

Richard Branson was named by 149 people, followed by Alan Sugar (94), Bill Gates with 34 votes and Elon Musk and Steve Jobs on 32 and 26 respectively.

One female made it into the top ten – Oprah Winfrey- in eighth position.

Just missing out on the top ten was the Dragons’ Den investor Deborah Meaden (11th). Other inspirational females in the top 20 were the pop star Rhianna (14th) the author of the Harry Potter series JK Rowling (19th) and Baroness Karren Brady (20th).

Peter Jones was the most prominent Dragons’ Den entrepreneur, beating his fellow panellists. Beating fellow contestants Deborah Meaden and Duncan Bannatyne who came 11th and 12th respectively.

Christine Telyan, CEO of UENI, the company which conducted the poll, said: “The poll brought in a huge range of answers, from famous entrepreneurs to family members.

“Richard Branson is a self-made success, whose fearlessness and hard work helped him build a global brand and a business empire. I think it’s his story of daring, plus his philanthropy, that inspires many people in the UK.

“Many chose the names of people they see regularly on television or read about in the media. But also family members are clearly inspirational for a lot of people, which reminds us just how many people strike it on their own to setup as a sole trader or a small business. The poll also showed us just how much technology is associated with entrepreneurship, with Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg all ranking high in the results.

“It’s perhaps not surprising to see Richard Branson at the top of the poll, although it is intriguing that many British-based entrepreneurs look to the United States for inspiration. One notable absence from the top 20 was President Donald Trump – who came in at 23rd.

“We will run this poll annually and, as a female business leader, I hope to see more inspirational women on the list in the future.

“We read the list of illustrious names and each one reminds you what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur: relentless hard work, resilience in the face of failure, the imagination to build something, and a bit of good luck. Success takes many forms but almost always requires these four things.”