Money Can’t Buy You SME Love

Demonstrating that money cannot buy you everything, Richard Branson has topped a poll of business heroes as voted for by business owners themselves, beating the worlds third richest man, Bill Gates, into 2nd position.

In a recent poll commissioned by online accounting software firm KashFlow, 936 business owners were asked to identify their business hero. Chairman of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson topped the polls with 34%, with the third richest man in the world, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates coming in at 2nd place.

As the poll below shows, net worth was obviously not the deciding factor for many SME owners. Ex Dragons’ Den business angel Richard Farleigh and current Dragon Peter Jones came in third and fourth places respectively, despite their combined worth being less than a third of 5th placed Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

Dragons’ Den’s success in terms of viewing figures is potentially the reason that three of the Dragons made the top 10, although Duncan Bannatyne will almost definitely be “out” when he sees that he only just scraped in at 10th place.

Despite a 2003 Labour Party survey that revealed 30 per cent of business owners are women, the results of the KashFlow poll only featured one female, Oprah Winfrey. The American chat-show queen is worth an estimated $2.5 billion and came in 9th on the poll with 3.5% of the vote.

Below is the full top 10, including the percentages of owners who voted for them.

Business owners had a choice of potential business heroes to choose from, with 92.9% of those polled selecting one of the top 10 as their role model.

The full list of MD’s and CEO’s up for votes included; Katie Price, aka Jordan, who received 0.6% of the votes, Jamie Murray Wells, Sir Alan Sugar, Simon Woodroffe, James Caan, Deborah Meaden, Doug Richard, Donald Trump, Victoria Beckham and Rupert Murdoch.

    Name                               %                     Estimated Net Worth

1. Richard Branson         34%                 £4.4 billion

2. Bill Gates                      14%                 $58 billion (2008)

3. Richard Farleigh         10.3%              £66 million (2006)

4. Peter Jones                  8%                   £300 million

5. Stelios                            7%                  £1.29 billion

6. Steve Jobs                    5.4%               $5.4 billion (2008)

7. Michael O’Leary           4.7%               €466m

8. Warren Buffet               4%                   $62 billion (2008)

9. Oprah Winfrey              3.5%                $2.5 billion

10. Duncan Bannatyne    2%                  £200million

Duane Jackson, Managing Director of accounting software firm, KashFlow said,

“It is clear that entrepreneurs really admire the runaway leader Richard Branson, and maybe this is down to his never say die attitude and his willingness to put his personal reputation on the line in the search for good media exposure. Maybe if Bill Gates has shown the same passion for Public Relations he would be on the top of the poll.”

He continued,

“We commissioned the survey to help us understand how we should be marketing ourselves to SMEs and build long term relationships along with winning even more market share. It is clear that business owners aspire to companies and individuals who aren’t afraid to take a calculated risk in pursuit of their goals.”


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