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August 9, 2011

How To Tame A Dragon

by Tim Fifield
Dragons Den

Last Sunday I was watching the businesspersons TV equivalent of required reading, Dragons Den. Oh how we smirk when they fluster and bluster through their pitches, foul up their demonstrations and look south when the thorny issue of figures is broached.

The slow inevitable deconstruction of a persons life’s work is compelling to watch. Theo’s preoccupation with breaking things, Duncan’s over use of the word “ridiculous”, Peter’s haughty flirtation and Deborah’s sour faced outrage is simply a joy to behold. And now with the addition of a woman who is the living, breathing embodiment of a dragon, Hilary Devey completes this fiery line up with a look and sound that blends the fashion sensibilities of Cruella De Ville with the earthy tones of Jack Duckworth. Perfect.

Now, in the warm glow of our lounges it may be tempting to laugh at these “budding entrepreneurs” and rubbish their attempts at diverting monies from Theo’s children’s inheritance fund, but in the cold light of the business day, could we do any better?

I for one have done many presentations but never have I been subjected to the microscopic scrutiny you see on DD. I dare say I’d falter if Duncan did his “turnover is vanity, profit is sanity” line on me and a withering look from Ms Meaden could CTR-ALT-DEL my brain in a nanosecond.

So all of this excitement led me to the fantasy of standing in “The Den” pitching my business. What exactly do these hot-breathed investors want and how would I go about getting their attention? Well the obvious answer is that they want a nice juicy return on investment and in order to attract even a flicker of interest I’d need to present a compelling idea together with a well thought out business plan, evidence of achievements, a scalable business model and realistic projections.

Reversing that back into my business, well I have to say there could be room for improvement and a lesson we could all learn from taking our business back to the start and creating an “investor pitch” rather than just a sales one.

Finally, I’d like to add another observation. Aside from all the facts and figures there is a word that unifies all the dragons and is often a clincher for a keen investors eye…that word is passion. All entrepreneurs thrive on it so we could conclude that “it takes one, to invest in one”.

I’m out.

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