Dragons’ Den – Success From Pitch to Profit

The Book entitled “Dragons’ Den: Success from Pitch to Profit” (published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd) 2007 is a terrific read – and a must if you have ever watched, or intend to watch (or better still – intend to take part in) DRAGONS’ DEN.

For those who don’t yet know what the Dragons’ Den is, think X-factor for the business world. With a panel of eminent business judges who are willing to invest their own money (many thousands of Pounds, in fact) sitting in judgement on the would-be new Business kid on the block. Each candidate must do their best to impress some of Britain’s best business brains with a short pitch on their new idea (sometimes an existing, and already successful business which needs some extra cash, or perhaps the expertise that any of the “Dragons” can bring).

Featuring interviews with Peter Jone (aka in this book as “The Visionary”); Deborah Meaden (aka The Marketeer); Theo Paphitis (The Retail Expert); Duncan Bannatyne (The Serial Entrepreneur); James Caan (The People’s Investor) and Richard Farleigh (The Business Angel) with a foreword by Evan Davis (The Economics Expert) – it is an exciting book which is inspirational as well as scary!

Scary, I hear you ask? Well yes – in my opinion it must be completely nerve wracking for many of the intrepid entrepreneurs who have ventured up that long stairway (OK – maybe it just seems long – I’ve never actually walked it myself, of course) into the Dragons Den and onto our TV screens. If you succeed in your pitch possible fame and fortune awaits. If you fail, then with the high coverage viewings that the Dragon’s Den has now enjoyed into it’s Fifth Series (at time of writing), then you are going to be seen as having failed in the Dragon’ Den by a lot of people! The reassuring thing with this book however, is that even for some of those who have “failed” in the Den, there has been some other successes outside. Conversely some of those participants who appeared to get backing and whom we would assume would go onto bigger and better business success, have actually stalled after the programme was viewed.

The Dragon’s all carry out due diligence on their would-be proteges after the programme is aired (or at least before the business proposition can go ahead) and it is not unheard of for some of the business plans and ideas to have fallen short under closer scrutiny. In these cases, the planned investment does not go ahead. This book shows who has faltered and who has succeeded (and why) and gives a good background for anyone who is thinking about going into business even if they are not planning to go into the Dragons’ Den to seek investment for it.

You really need to read the book yourself to get the full facts on what each of the Dragon’s are looking for; the personality traits and ideals that appeal to them most. One commonly recurring theme amongst the dragons was that presentation IS important! Not necessarily being able to stand in front of them with a flip chart or powerpoint and making a good impression in that respect, but certainly personal appearance was important for everyone. A clean, professional image with polished shoes and neat appearance. Now I think I could probably manage the polished shoes, but as for the polished presentation of some million-dollar making business proposal? Well, chance would be a fine thing!

One tip of my own though: polished shoes look good; new shoes look good. The difference being that you must be comfortable in whatever shoes you are wearing at the time. And new shoes are often NOT the most comfortable ones – so don’t make that mistake. Your great overall presentation might be ruined by the look of discomfort on your face when the toes of your new shoes start pinching halfway through your pitch…. Just a thought!

The other recurring theme is this book is the fact that all successful business people agree with the old saying “If you Fail to Plan, then you Plan to Fail”. Don’t try and impress the Dragons (or your Bank Manager!) without a full Business Plan. If you are not sure where to start with writing one, seek advice. It is better to ask and get it right, and then put in in writing, than to think you can just remember all the salient points of your business idea and take it from there. If you ever go into the Dragons’ Den you will need to show that you have done your homework – and if your memory is not what it could be (or was), then arm yourself with a copy of your (professional) business plan and impress the Dragons (and surprise yourself) with what a clear and comprehensive business plan you have produced.