The Dragon’s Den

February 17th, 2009 by | Print



One of my posts earlier this month focused on the benefits that playing games can have for your solopreneur psyche. And my inspiration for this post is television. Now, I know that coupling these seemingly unusual inspirations with the fact that I haven’t put up a post in about a week (which is 4 days beyond my usual) may leave you wondering what I have been doing with my time.


Have I turned into a lie-about playing games and watching the idiot box? Do you question my dedication and passion?


First, in honest defense of my habits and recent seclusion, the games I recommended have a benefit for your business habits. Plus, I haven’t written to you sooner partially because I have been distracted by the Valentine’s Day weekend with my restaurant (the busiest weekend of the year) and I don’t believe in throwing up words with little meaning simply to keep my posts on schedule. And as for the TV, I do have a value proposition.


Skip past The Real Housewives of Orange County (unless you want to learn the patterns for high profile pettiness) and forget the frivolity of getting lost in Lost. I highly recommend for the benefit of your business acumen (with a mix of personal pleasure) that you check out the BBC’s Dragon’s Den.


The basic premise for this 1-hour business reality show from the UK is structured upon the original Japanese version created by Sony. Five successful self-made millionaires sit in judgment of up-and-coming entrepreneurs from England giving their 30-second elevator pitch seeking an investment to elevate their business to the next level. This is followed by a speed round of scrutiny by the panel. The participants must raise the full amount of investment from the panel that they are seeking in order to walk away with any money.


No, watching this reality show will not earn you the equivalent of an MBA. But, it will boil down for you the basics of a good business idea and the habits necessary for success. Yes, you could make the case that Elvis was told to stick with trucking and that some of the past participants in the Dragon’s Den have been sent packing only to press on to some success. However, these dragons get it right a high percentage of the time.


What are the 4 common characteristics of winning participants?


1. Knowledge of their business. They know their revenues, profits, projections, and unique selling proposition.


2. Knowledge of their market. Winners know facts and figures about their market and how they relate to profits and process pitfalls.


3. A unique idea with market demand. A unique idea creates a barrier for entry from future competitors. Coupling this key attribute with a known demand in the market often creates a bidding war amongst the millionaire investors. Unique ideas that are easily replicated will soon lose value and are summarily sent packing. Presenters with unique ideas with no appreciable demand are given a Three Stooges-esque smackdown.


4. Passion for their purpose. Wallflowers quickly wilt under the dragons’ scrutiny. If they can’t stand the heat from these dragons, how will they perform under the ongoing demands of their market?


An added bonus to watching participants perform under this pressure cooker is to take in the dragons’ feeding frenzy when they all want in on an idea. Generally friendly, the dragons show creativity when quickly crafting deals to outmaneuver their rivals for an investment-for-equity stake swap.


This leaves the somewhat star-struck entrepreneur with an advantageous quandary. The best performers fire back with some negotiations of their own. The best deal is often a balance between the right amount of equity for investment while partnering with the dragon (or partnered dragons) that offer the optimal contacts, resources and experience.


So whether you are hoping to bring in an investor or fund your own sustainable solopreneur business, the ingredients for success learned here are the same.


Set your schedule or Tivo to allow you to catch the lessons learned from this reality show. If neither are an option, you can catch up on episodes on YouTube.


All The Best,

Doug Dolan
The Solopreneur’s Guide


One Response to “The Dragon’s Den”

  1. Paul Says:

    Sounds like a good show, I will be sure to check it out.


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