Inside Small Business
Top 50 Small Business Leaders

Update: 2023 finalists announced. Download the report now.

The Top 50 Small Business Leaders report recognises resilient small-business owners who have excelled in innovation, overcame challenges, embraced sustainability and contributed to their local communities.

Discover who made the list and see who will be highlighted for their outstanding achievements.

Every applicant receives a score for each of these criteria based on the information they provide in their application. In addition, every applicant is scored by three judges.


Nominations open
5 Apr 2023
Nominations closed
26 Apr 2023

Finalists notified
28 Jun 2023

Finalists announced
23 Aug 2023



Alita Harvey-Rodriguez

Founder, MI Academy

Alita Harvey-Rodriguez is known as one of Australia’s leading marketing and strategic creativity experts, and the brains behind MI Academy. Driven by a passion for problem solving, Alita works with CEOs and business leaders to build more strategically creative, high performing teams. 

As MI Academy’s Founder and Managing Director, her focus and expertise lie in growing the internal capabilities of leading retailers in areas of marketing performance, customer experience, strategic creativity and team alignment – expertise that has seen her working with many global brands. 

Alita is the driving force behind Australia’s first retail hackathon, ‘HackGames’ – an event that brings  together hundreds of leading retailers and solution providers to reimagine a stronger, more innovative future for the industry.  


Dr Daniel Prior FAMI CPM

Director, Supply Chain Sustainment Research Group at UNSW

Daniel D Prior is Associate Professor of Buyer-Supplier Engagement and Director of the Supply Chain Sustainment Research Group at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Daniel is also a Visiting Professor of Strategic Sales and former Director of the Executive MBA at Cranfield University UK. Daniel has over twenty years’ experience working with small businesses in the tech sector as a consultant, board member and advisor. Prior to academia, Daniel held roles in IT, Defence and Professional Services industries, with companies including Tenix Defence and KPMG Australia. Daniel obtained his PhD in 2008 from Macquarie Graduate School of Management. Daniel is a Fellow of the Australian Marketing Institute, a Fellow of the Academy of Marketing Science and a Member of the Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy.


Ellie Degraeve

Founder, Go For Zero

With a background in international retail strategy and inspired by her own toxin-free and plastic-free journey, Ellie founded Go For Zero in 2018 to make a more sustainable lifestyle easier and accessible for others, and to inspire and empower others to make a change, no matter how small. Today Go For Zero is a trusted education platform and online one-stop-shop for zero-waste versions of your everyday essentials. From beauty and cleaning to pet and baby, they make sustainable, nontoxic, and plastic-free products convenient and accessible while exclusively supporting Aussie and NZ founders.

Go For Zero won the QLD Telstra Best of Business awards Promoting Sustainability in 2022 and took away the top spot in the 2023 Top 50 People in eCommerce.


Jacinta Plazzer

Founder, Yeppoonie Smoothie

Jacinta begun her entrepreneurial journey in Melbourne in 1999 when, at the age of 24, she co-founded Australian wine e-tailer,, which later also evolved into bricks and mortar outlets. She subsequently moved to Thailand where she co-owned and operated a Phuket boat tour company. Upon returning to Australia, Jacinta launched Yeppoonie Smoothie, bringing her range of 100 per cent Australian smoothie powders to market in 2022. Jacinta developed the blends after discovering a gap in the market for truly healthy and nutritionally-focused smoothie additions – the business was one of the nominees for manufacturer of the year at this year’s Naturally Good Awards.

Jacinta’s background in building innovative businesses, in varied industries and markets, provides Jacinta with a unique insight into the entrepreneur’s journey.


Nicole Davidson

Founder, Nicole Davidson Negotiation

Nicole Davidson is a negotiation advisor and commercial mediator. An accredited meditator since 2016, Nicole brings a wealth of experience in the legal, insolvency and banking sectors to her mediation practice. She has consulted across a broad range of industries in Australia, Europe and the Middle East.  In 2022, Nicole was recognised in the Australian Law Awards as Mediator of the Year and listed as one of Inside Small Business’s Top 50 Small Business Leaders. Nicole is passionate about helping small businesses avoid litigation through assisting them to prevent and manage conflict. Nicole is the author of Negotiation from A to Z: 26 tips to improve every negotiation and the host of the Negotiation in Real Life podcast.


Tim Ladhams

Editor, Inside Small Business

Tim is responsible for all the content on the Inside Small Business website and the quarterly magazine.

Tim brings a passion for start-ups and small businesses to his journalism career after a long career – including management roles – in hospitality, insurance and credit management. His experience as a credit manager provided him with first-hand experience of the dealing with the issue that small-business owners regularly cite as their biggest challenge in staying afloat and going on to prosper – getting paid by those to whom they have delivered goods or services! His working highlight every year is the enthusiasm with which Inside Small Business Top 50 Small Business Leaders Report is received by the small-business communities around the country.


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