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Into the Dragon’s Den

When anyone comes up with an invention, the next step is to find someone to give them the financial backing that they can’t supply themselves. To do this, they must have a tangible product for the person or company they are approaching to get a proper feel for. The idea needs to be well thought through in its practicality and monetary feasibility. The inventor needs to have done thorough, provable research to show that there is a niche in the market that this particular product would fill, that it would make a profit.

This type of negotiations have gone on since the beginning of time. Now, however, during our times of economical strain, it has become harder to get people with money to back something that may or may not work. That may or may not prove to be profitable. However, it is still possible and the occurrence of the Dragon’s Den TV programme has got many would-be budding inventors at their desks scribbling away with their plans.

The whole Dragon’s Den format comes from Japan, where it is owned by Sony. Celebrities or high profile company owners that are looking for new investment opportunities sit on a panel and have a designated amount of money in mind that they would like to sink into a new venture.

Trawled in front of them are average Joe’s who are allocated a timed slot to pitch their idea to the dragons and convince them that this is the one deal they cannot afford to miss out on. This is not for the faint hearted. The ones with the money in the Dragons Den are confident and adept at business. They know all the right questions to ask and if you’re not on top of your game and knowing it inside out they will eat you for breakfast.

Those who truly believe in their product, who have fully researched their market, who know their target customers and have the confidence to put this across simply whilst still giving the dragons something they can see or feel, will give them a much better prospect of gaining the backing that they require.

For those that enter the Dragon’s Den trembling with fear, stuttering with nerves and unsure of themselves will come across as unsure of their product. They will be chewed up and spat out in no time by the dragons themselves.

Contestants that have managed to secure finances from the Dragons Den are those that know their product well but do not appear too pushy or cocky. They pitch their idea and hopefully the product will sell itself. Once they have satisfied any doubts the dragons may have and fully sold their product to the best of their ability, then the dragons need to decide whether they want to invest or not.

Negotiations take place. If a dragon would like to invest but is unsure of the products feasibility, they can offer a reduced amount to what the contestant is asking for. While this may be difficult for the person that needs the money, reputation goes a long way and that is what the dragons bring with them, reputation and influence that might just make them successful in their venture.

So what does the dragon get from all this? Well, during negotiations, they can also bargain. The inventor will suggest a reward, usually a stake in the business venture or a cut of the profits, depending on the amount invested. The dragon will then attempt to bring this nearer what he sees as a good deal and eventually an agreement will be reached. One happy inventor, one happy dragon.

Is your Boss a Dragon Lady?

Is your boss a Dragon Lady?

Everyone has had a bad female boss or two in their day.
But have you ever worked for a DRAGON LADY?
What’s a Dragon Lady boss, you ask? Here are a few examples of what a Dragon Lady boss does:

There’s the tale of a boss that did not pay her workers before Christmas vacation and then called a meeting at 9 a.m. on the day after New Year’s. She opened the meeting with a condescending ‘So, did Santa give you everything that you wanted?’ and then she scanned the room and told each of her paycheck-less employees what their New Year’s resolutions should be.

Then there’s the boss that hosts marathon, back-to-back meetings without providing coffee or even a glass of water for the captured.

Who can forgive the boss that demands that you complete a task and then works behind your back to make sure that your task never reaches its completion?
Oh, wait, there’s one more–that boss that works you like a slave for pennies and then constantly tells you that you shouldn’t ask for a raise because ‘we’re in this together.’

Urban legends, right? Nope. These Dragon Ladies do exist, and unfortunately, the aforementioned examples were all the same woman.
She used to be my boss long ago.

My boss is long gone now, but she has had an effect on my life: Because of her, I strive to be a mentor, not a TORMENTOR of the professional women that I work with on a daily basis.

The way I see it, someone must stick up for the nameless, faceless, female worker bees. And the women who have made it must reach back to mentor others. It doesn’t take much to dole out candid advice about how to polish a professional image, and ultimately work their way up the corporate ladder.

And when it comes to Dragon Lady bosses, it’s up to the powers that be to clean house.
After all, if you’re a business owner, Dragon Lady managers are running your young female talent out the front door. If you’re an entrepreneur that conduct business with a Dragon Lady business owner, it’s possible that her overworked, abused team won’t give you their best.

If you want to succeed, you’ve got to send the Dragon Lady packing, Corporate America.
You’ve got to clean house.

Cleaning house, that is, re-grouping and re-evaluating what employers/managers/partnerships, etc., are meeting your expectations, is an uncomfortable but necessary task if you want to keep your business afloat.

Pride, principle and office politics can surely get in the way when it’s time for you to clean house, and believe me, female entrepreneurs may know this better than most. Nevertheless, there are two golden rules to follow when you clean house: 1). Always cultivate the roses; and 2). Always pluck the weeds.

Here are a few tips to help you determine if there are weeds hiding in your rose garden:

How to Spot a Rose
(Employers/vendors/partnerships that you cultivate)

She is competent, and confident instead of controlling. She can assign a task and not feel inclined to follow up or micro-manage.

She is an agile, multi-tasker that responds swiftly to new challenges.

She is a self-starter, a continuous learner, and leader; she may implement a company-training program.

She has new ideas that, when implemented, positively influences the company’s profitability.

She comes to work on time, and will stay longer if needed.

She is respectful and works well with a group of subordinates and alone.

How to Spot a Weed
(Employers/vendors/partnerships that you pluck)

There’s a high turnover rate in her department.

She writes numerous disciplinary memos; she has increased rates of employee absenteeism.

She rarely, if ever, suggests a subordinate for a raise or a promotion.

She is a disruptive whiner that inspires others to be whiny and disruptive. Or, she is an intrusive micro-manager that demands your full attention at all times.

There is evidence of alcohol or substance abuse.

Loyalty and truthfulness are concepts that she knows not; especially when it comes to her subordinates.

In her mind, badgering is essential if an employee is to complete a task.

Dragon Lady managers will drain your business unnecessarily, if you let them.
Consult with your HR director or a trusted employee rights attorney and clean house immediately; attempting to humor a Dragon Lady and/or delay the inevitable is a waste of time and energy.

On the other hand, good managers will produce more return for every employee that they supervise, because they realize it is in their best interest to award and promote subordinates accordingly.

The good manager is usually found among the movers-and-shakers in business, entertainment and politics, and often convenes to connect, network and impart her wisdom.
Sometimes she may seem hard to find, but she’s out there.
And if you’re a female professional, your work life will be fulfilled if your paths should ever meet.
Carpe Diem.

‘Dragons Den’ BBC TV Series – Success Stories

Dragons Den BBC2 TV Series is unlike any other reality TV show in that there is something more at stake than the contestants’ pride. In front of some the richest and most successful businessmen and women in Britain members of the public pitch their products, ideas and their business acumen in the hopes of securing an investment that could turn their businesses and their lives around in a way that most can only dream of. The aim of the game is not to win but simply to make a life changing business agreement. The stakes are real, as is the money.

Whilst many of the ‘budding entrepreneurs’ that have entered the Dragons Den over the past five years have only succeeded in winning the dragons’ distain, an equal number have also made a lasting impression on them, winning not only their investment but also their valued advice. A number of the winning ideas featured on the Dragons Den TV show are now making their mark on the business world and we are witnessing the rise of a new business empire, controlled by the Dragons and made stronger by the wide-scale publicity that the show offers.

Perhaps the most successful of all the products featured on Dragons Den UK, however, has been reggae singer Levi’s brand of Jamaican BBQ sauce. Levi has been successfully selling his Reggae Reggae Sauce at the Notting Hill festival for the past fifteen years but with the help of Dragons Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh demand has exploded. Reggae Reggae Sauce can now be found on the shelves of major UK supermarkets.

Despite a shaky start on the show Ray Smith’s Magic Pizza – a device for ensuring that microwave pizzas do not go soggy in the middle – was also snapped up by the Dragons Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis, much to the delight of the thousands of pizza fans across the UK. Ray Smith has since been added to the gallery of Dragons Den success stories with his innovative product selling to single men, students and busy mums up and down the country. Other Dragons Den success stories include the i-teddy, the Cuddledry range of baby and toddler towels, the Concentrate range of school and college accessories and many more.

One of the most famous products from the Dragons Den are Trunki suitcases – colourful ride-on suitcases for kids, which was unsuccessful in securing funding from the dragons but has since gone on to become a great success story.

Ice Blading boots were a successful product pitch in which Theo Phaphitis invested. He loved the idea of these sohphisticated inline skates which allowed you to move like an ice skater but without the ice. They are being launched in 2009 so we are looking forward to see how successful this Dragon’s Den Product is.

With such successful deals being made right on our TV screens it is clear that Dragon’s Den is more than just another BBC reality show. It is helping to shape the business landscape of the UK and giving us an opportunity to see how the big boys play. For those of us with an idea to pitch and the guts to go up against the Dragons, this BBC2 TV show is also an opportunity to make it big by winning the interests of both the Dragons and the nation.