Every Friday on this site we profile a small business. Our Small Business Stars feature shares everyday stories of bravery and innovation from a diverse range of SMEs and individuals across the country that provide inspiration and information for others in similar situations.

Over the past 12 months we’ve featured all kinds of businesses from tech disrupters and digital marketers through to photographers and copywriters, so at this time of year, we thought we’d look back at some of the varied stories and the risks these stars have taken. And if you want more inspiring stories, head to our Small Business Stars hub.

[1] Vicky Matthews from Pink Spaghetti:

As our first Small Business Star of 2014, Vicky gave us an insight into how outsourcing service Pink Spaghetti was born. Having faced their fair share of challenges and successes, Vicky and her business partner Caroline launched the business in 2009.

Providing personal and business services to small business owners, they understand the need to grow slowly and steadily. Are you venturing into a similar industry? Take a look at her interview for more lessons in how to make your business a success.

[2] Alex Sullivan from Bone & Rag:

As the co-founder of boutique dog accessory business Bone & Rag, Alex was one of the entrepreneurs we featured in our video series.

“I’m not doing this to be rich,” said Alex. “I’m doing this to create something that makes me happy and hopefully make a thousand other dogs and their owners happy. If that brings me riches, brilliant. If it doesn’t and it just pays my bills, then that’s also brilliant.”

For more tips on branding, to what it truly means to be an entrepreneur, watch his film below or view all our Small Business Stars films on YouTube.

[3] Alison Brooks of Alison Brooks Architects:

In July we spoke to Alison Brooks who founded her own business in 1996, Alison Brooks Architects. From the early days of winning business through the Yellow Pages, to being named joint winner of the Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize in 2008, Alison has learnt to push the boundaries to get to where she is today.

Read her story to learn more about Alison , her architecture practice and how she went from starting out by herself to earning industry accolades.

[4] Vikram Gudi from Elephant Music:

For some Small Business Stars, like Vikram, opportunity is everything. Having built up experience in the music industry for years, Vikram decided to go it alone after meeting the right people at the right time.

He founded Elephant Music in 2011, learning quickly and developing the business as it grew. His main tip for all entrepreneurs growing their small business? Stay positive and never give up. To learn more about Vikram, and how he set-up Elephant Music, read his story.

[5] Bryony Cooper from T Dispatch:

With many small businesses using new tech to advance traditional industries, we spoke to Bryony Cooper, co-founder and director of transport fleet start-up T-Dispatch.

Having successfully raised funding from investors, the team relocated to Berlin to grow their SaaS model business. Here, Bryony shared the key moments from her start-up journey. Looking to venture into the world of tech? Visit the Small Business Stars hub to read more of Bryony’s tips.

[6] Jamie Denham from Sliced Bread:

As Managing Director of Sliced Bread Animation, Jamie knows what it takes to develop a London-based production company. Founded in 2002, Sliced Bread has seen its successes thanks to their ability to evolve with the market.

Rather than sticking to one thing, Jamie and his team have learned that it’s important to be versatile and move with the ever-changing advancements in digital. Read more tips from Jamie on the blog.


[7] Donna Coulling:

Donna set-up her business as PA to celebrities after starting out as an actor. Seeking new challenges, Donna threw herself into the new role with little grounding. However, with a little persistence and the right contacts, her business began to boom.

Now working with several big name clients, Donna also holds presentations to provide insight into her business. To learn more about Donna, her business and how its unfolded, read her story on the Small Business Stars blog.

[8] Robb Whiteman:

To mark National Freelancer Day on Wednesday 19th November, our Small Business Star was Robb Whiteman. Having worked in a London agency for a number of years, Robb quit his job to begin life as a freelance graphic and motion graphics designer.

“Becoming a freelancer is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Obviously there are huge highs and lows, and it may not be for everyone. If you’re thinking about it, do it,” said Robb.

To find out more about how Robb began freelancing and tips on how to launch yourself into a similar career, read his story on the Small Business Stars blog.

[9] Katie Lee:

Katie set-up up her own digital media agency, Miramus, after a number of entrepreneurial ventures. Having built up a profile in the industry, Katie decided to run her business from home, enabling her to take care of her young family.

She puts her successes down to a number of things, good contacts, keeping abreast of the industry and revelling every opportunity. To learn more about Katie and Miramus, read her story.

[10] Evgeny Shadchev from Makers Academy:

Having successfully built a career as a software developer, Evgeny turn his attention to fostering new talent. He launched Makers Academy, an intensive course that helps beginners to land their first job as junior software developers, in 2012.

Evgeny’s top tip? “If you’re hell-bent on being successful in business and willing to work really hard for it, then just go and start your own business.” Read more tips from Evgeny and find out how he launched Makers Academy.

Is there a small business star you admire? Leave a comment below to let us know your small business star, or see which businesses our industry experts nominate for their bravery in 2014.

For more advice and insight from business owners, visit our Small Business Stars hub.