As part of our My Business In 2012 project, we asked entrepreneurs to name their business heroes and villians of the year. Here are the best responses. To share your thoughts, comment at the end of the article or tweet using #MyBusinessIn2012.
"My business hero of 2012 is Richard Branson for challenging the government's tender process over Virgin Trains. We all like to question procurement methods from time to time but to do it so publicly, with dignity and to win is remarkable!"
Jane Whitham, Cream Consultancy
"The unsung SME owner manager, who just gets on and does it without bleating about lack of access to capital, red tape and all the other distractions that you hear about. These businesses are and will remain the driving force for the UK economy and don't get the attention they deserve."
Guy Mucklow, Postcode Anywhere
"Danny Boyle, the director of the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony, for pulling off an incredibly difficult task with spectacular results."
Maxine Horn, Creative Barcode
"All the fantastic entrepreneurs I've met over the year, from people who make edible sugar cups, wooden sunglasses, workouts for the elderly, MI5 coding techniques, bee factories; just an amazing collection of fantastic talent."
Charlie Harry, Lick Me I'm Delicious
"The Queen – for attracting additional revenues and business into the UK with her Jubilee celebrations in the summer. (Look forward to receiving my OBE Ma’am!?!)."
Nick Moore, We Trade It
"Tim Campbell MBE has to be one of the most selfless and inspirational successful entrepreneurs I know. He has freely given his time to support me and provided guidance and encouragement where I've needed it most. He demonstrates integrity in all that he does and I can't think of a better hero."
Lorraine Allman, Enterprising Child
"Sebastian Coe for his leadership of the Olympic bid and his dynamic, enthusiasm throughout. The Games did a lot for business, confidence and the feel good factor."
Helen and Paul Frear, Big Green Tree
"Simon Berry of ColaLife, who established a number of sustainable new business enterprises in deprived areas of Africa. This entailed handling significant political and cultural issues, finding recruiting and training local people and getting them to become confident enough to become self-sufficient."
Chris Ridgewell, Charterhouse Consultants Group
"Starbucks. The UK's small businesses keep this country going and tax is a shared responsibility for us all. For a large global business to flout the tax system so openly is despicable."
Jane Whitham, Cream Consultancy
"The British government for not providing the effort that we really need to push British business forward to help the economy grow again and not supporting those who can start up new companies such as the 40-something group. Money is splashed on the teens, on those out of work and on those who have already grown successful companies. But what about those who have watched and waited and now are ready to enter centre stage?" Gary Howard, C.P.D.M.S.
Laura Bazile, blufreelance
"The recession. As an entrepreneur, it is always hard to see businesses suffer, even if they are competition."
Caroline Stanbury, Gift Library
"The Chancellor. An easy target but it feels like 'fiddling while Rome burns' on the budgets. We have an opportunity to change at a structural level and it is not being taken."
Andrew Chalmers, Ballard Chalmers
"A client (who remains nameless) who owes a six figure sum to my firm."
Sarosh Zaiwalla, Zaiwalla & Co Solicitors
"The owners of Comet. They knew what they were taking on and I feel they will be shown to be asset strippers rather than serious about saving jobs and keeping competition on the high street."
Andrew West, Obsidian Wellness SL
"Alan Sugar. I'm starting to lose interest and a lot of respect for some of the more well known entrepreneurs as they don't really seem to fully understand the challenges currently being faced."
Alan Woods, Wood Squared
"Bristol City Council for removing vital parking spaces near our retail outlet in Bristol."
Kate Gover, Lahloo Tea
"The villains of 2012 are the bosses of G4S who over promised and under delivered. This is the very basics of business gone wrong."
Malcolm Piper, Tandem Invoice Finance
"UK Border Agency. Ambitious tech SMEs like Adfonic source employees from the global talent pool, but the route to bringing staff to the UK is often blocked by red tape. Once companies' applications to sponsor individuals from abroad disappear into the system, their progress can’t be tracked and it becomes difficult to obtain any feedback about them. A more efficient application process would support faster growth and greater innovation among UK firms."
Victor Malachard, Adfonic
"Mark Zuckerberg. In his quest for even more wealth and success he's destroying a genius idea and earth's biggest brand."
Nick Moore, We Trade It
Ashley Stockwell, UK academy director at Wayra, shares his hero and villain:
About Dan Martin
Dan Martin has 10 years experience as a journalist writing about entrepreneurs and the issues that affect them.
After three years working as a researcher for Sky News, he joined BusinessEurope.com as a reporter. This was followed by two years working as news editor for Startups.co.uk during which time Dan also contributed to Growing Business magazine. In 2006, he joined Sift Media as business editor before being promoted to editor of BusinessZone.co.uk. He also has responsibility for UK Business Forums, the UK’s most active online forums for small business entrepreneurs. In addition, Dan founded The Pitch, BusinessZone.co.uk's nationwide competition for small business owners. He host the grand finals in 2009 and 2010 in front of an audience of 300.
As well as interviewing many entrepreneurs, Dan has written content for leading business organisations such as the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, British Chambers of Commerce, Forum of Private Business, Investors in People and Business Link for London. Among the publications that have quoted Dan are The Times, Mail On Sunday, Financial Times, Personnel Today and Bristol Evening Post. His articles have also been published by publications including eGov Monitor, Virgin Express in-flight magazine and Personal Success.
Dan regularly speaks at events about small business and social media issues. Among the events he has presented at are the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies' annual conference, Learning Technologies, Publishing Expo and World of Learning. He has also chaired high profile debates featuring senior representatives from Business Link and the Federation of Small Businesses and Dragons' Den judge James Caan.
Dan was named the 10th most influential political blogger on Twitter by the Independent and won the public award for best B2B tweeter at the Golden Twits 2010. He also organised the Bristol Twestival, part of a global Twitter driven charity initiative, in February 2009 and March 2010. Volunteers from 175 cities around the world organised events using the social network. In total, $350,000 was raised for charity: water in 2009 and $500,000 for Concern in 2010. In Bristol, £1,500 and £5,600 was raised.