business awards uk logo with headshot of Jess Shanahan of Jet Social

From Startup to Success: An interview with Jess Shanahan, Winner of Small Business Leader of the Year with Jet Social

Meet Jess Shanahan, the dynamic entrepreneur behind Jet Social, a boutique content marketing agency based in Norfolk, UK, specialising in the e-mobility and technology sectors. Recently awarded Small Business Leader of the Year award as part of our 2023 Small Business Awards, Jess has navigated her journey from a solo operator to a thriving business leader. In this exclusive interview, she shares her insights, challenges, and valuable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Join us as we delve into Jess’s career path, her business’s evolution, and the keys to her remarkable success.

The below is a concise transcript, we recommend watching the video for all the details.

Can you give a brief outline of your career journey to becoming a business leader?

My name is Jeff Shanahan, I’m the founder and CEO of Jet Social, which is a boutique content marketing agency. We’re based in Norfolk in the UK, but we work worldwide, and the majority of what we do is within the e-mobility and Technology spaces. So a lot of automotive tech and electric cars, that kind of thing, the stuff that really gets me personally excited. The kind of work we do is very much around thought leadership, so we do speech writing for people giving talks at conferences, we write white papers, reports, guides, and articles, all of that kind of thing. So it’s nicely varied within a very exciting industry.

Can you give a brief description and history of your business?

Yeah, of course. So we’ve been going 12 years now, which is really exciting. I started Jet Social because I had come out of a career in PR and marketing, and I just felt that there was a lot that I could do differently. It started off as a generalist agency, mostly doing social media, blog writing, and SEO for various companies. Over the years, it’s grown into something more technical and strategic. There are two distinct eras of Jet Social. For the first eight years, I was mostly doing everything on my own, but then I started expanding the team in 2020, and we’re now a team of four. It’s been a journey from doing everything myself to having a team that supports me and allows me to focus on what I’m really good at.

What challenges or problems did you face when you first started your own business?

The biggest problem I had was the loneliness of being a business owner. Even though I had friends and family supporting me, there was still a sense that they didn’t fully understand what it’s like to be your own accountant, marketing team, and everything else within a business. Dealing with ADHD, I found some flexibility in running my own business, but it was still challenging. I had to find ways to overcome these challenges, and it made me stronger as a person and a business owner.

What would you attribute as the main reason for your success?

The main reason for our success is the team. I have a lot of technical knowledge, and I can focus on my expertise, like writing technical reports and speeches. I don’t have to worry about accounting or business development because I have a team to support me. Having people to back me up on various tasks allows me to focus on being the figurehead and showcasing my expertise, which brings in clients and supports our existing clients.

What advice would you give someone who is looking to start their own business and become a leader in their industry?

I would advise understanding how you work and where your strengths lie. It’s essential to embrace your unique way of working and not try to emulate others’ approaches. Don’t feel pressured to follow popular business trends if they don’t align with how you function. Embracing your individual work style will help you be more productive and enjoy what you’re doing.

You recently won one of our Business Awards UK Awards and were a finalist for another (Small Business Awards – Business Leader of the Year 2023). Why did you choose to enter our awards specifically?

We wanted outside validation and to position ourselves as experts in our field. Winning awards provides third-party recognition, which carries more authority than self-promotion. Being a small business in the UK, entering these awards felt like a great fit for us.

Since winning the awards, how has that affected your business? Have you seen any tangible differences since winning the award?

Honestly, not yet. We haven’t promoted it extensively, but we have received positive feedback on social channels. So far, there haven’t been any significant tangible differences.

Would you recommend Business Awards UK to other businesses? If so, why?

I haven’t explored everything Business Awards UK has to offer yet, but the application process was streamlined and user-friendly. The graphics and materials provided were easy to use for our social channels, so it was a positive experience.

What is the next big step for yourself and your business?

We have plans to offer new services, such as packaged speech writing for businesses attending conferences. We’re adapting to the changing economic landscape by providing options that suit different business needs, not just long-term retainers. We also have exciting events and opportunities coming up, such as moderating panels at the London EV show. You can find us on LinkedIn or our website at to stay updated and connect with us.

Where can people find you online if they want to connect or learn more about your business?

You can connect with me on LinkedIn as Jeff Shanahan, and we have a page for Jet Social on LinkedIn as well. Visit our website at to find information about the events we’re attending and contact us for meetings or inquiries.

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