Dragons' Den – and why entrepreneurs need real-deal mentors
Did anyone catch this series of Dragons’ Den? While not as high profile, perhaps, as in previous years, it has been a fascinating watch. It remains compelling viewing for entrepreneurs everywhere.
The series ended Sunday with the news that two Dragons would be stepping down. For me Sarah Willingham – restaurant entrepreneur, serial investor and personal finance expert - and online retail guru Nick Jenkins – the man behind Moonpig.com – will be a big loss to the show.
Why? Not because they splashed the cash with abandon (they didn’t), and not because they were mean, critical and theatrically nasty (they weren’t, unless the pitch was so daft it was deserved).
These two successful business people added value to the show because they were bell-like voices of reason. They were clinical when pointing out flaws in a business model, or challenging on commercial principles. They were skilled at offering the one thing that every entrepreneur needs: no-nonsense advice.
In this series, more than any other, I often heard that killer line: “You don’t need a Dragon. You need a business mentor. You need a partner!”
Let’s not forget that Dragons' Den is at heart a piece of TV entertainment, not a business advice show. Duly, airtime was given to some over-ambitious characters, who clearly wanted too much too soon, and an easy short-cut to success. As we all know, life isn’t like that. Any successful business is always the result of a great deal of hard work and effort.
Our clients at BCMS are at a very different stage in their business journey. They’ve built and grown great companies, and are not looking for a quick financial fix, or cheap publicity. But they are looking for a change – either to take the business to a new level, or to move on.
Only last week, we took on a new client in the tech sector who nailed the dilemma. As they told us: “We’ve reached the limit of our ability to grow this company. We know this is a great business, and know it would flourish under new ownership.”
They’d come to us not because they are desperate to sell. Their profitability is excellent, and they remain passionate about what they do. Instead, they wanted to explore their options, the potential appetite for their business, the wider marketplace, and to benefit from our recommendations and expertise, based on real-world deal-making experience.
Which brings us full circle. These clients had come to BCMS because they needed precisely the same thing as those pitching away in the Dragons’ Den. Put simply, that’s advice, guidance, and (our clients’ words, not mine!) a “partner we can trust”.