Here Be Dragons

There is no doubt that for good or bad one of the most public manifestations of entrepreneurial Britain is the Marmite-like “Dragons’ Den” on the BBC, now in its ninth season.

I’m sure that people may be surprised (as was I) to discover that the programme actually originated in Japan and that there are no fewer than 23 versions around the globe including Nigeria, Poland, Turkey and the Arab world. Each has a panel of well-known business leaders ready to pounce on the wide-eyed panelists’ business idea, either to maul it to death or to cuddle up to it, in order to secure the best possible value for themselves. It is certainly compelling entertainment.

But there is a sobering side to this entertainment. Entrepreneurs come into the den often sorely unprepared for that which awaits them.

How many times have we witnessed sweaty participants getting their turnover mixed up with their profits? How many times have we squirmed in shared silence as a simple question about their business hangs unanswered, like the sword of Damocles, above their head?

The fact is that many young businesses struggle to find finance because they are simply unprepared for the rigour with which they need to approach the formal description of their objectives. The Business Plan.

Any lender, any consultant will tell us that it all starts with a coherent plan. It shows lenders that not only has the entrepreneur got a solid idea, but that they have the ability to deliver the idea in a managed, organised and professional manner.

Over the years I have found that one of the areas where we help to add value to our clients, is in helping with the production of a business plan. Whether they go on to use pension-led funding, peer-to-peer lending or are approaching a traditional, High Street, lender the effect is the same.

A good business plan leads to a good conversation.

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