OK, we’re half way through our preparation to face the Dragon’s Den. If you missed Plan To Face The Dragon’s Den Part I then refer back. Let’s move on to the next stage, steps 7 -12.
A business idea on its own is worthless. The world is awash with ideas. You must elevate your business idea to something of commercial value before you walk into the Dragon’s Den. You need proof. Proof essentially breaks down into two parts:
- Does your product work? Make sure you have a working prototype, or better still the real thing. A malfunctioning prototype and you can kiss a warm reception goodbye.
- Will anyone buy it? Research is of little value. Particularly on the scale that your limited funds are likely to reach. Try selling your product first. Get listings from high profile retailers/ wholesalers. If you can’t get listings, get a purchase order. Get a letter from the CEO saying how he will stock your product. Get anything that provides evidence that your product will have buyers. And lots of them.
8. Know everything about your business – that means ‘everything’
This is the most essential part of yor preparation. You have constructed a business plan. It may be simple. It may be short. But it musn’t have holes. The Dragon’s Den will find the smallest hole and drive a bus through it. Ask yourself questions such as:
- are your assumptions reasonable?
- do the financials look exciting and can you substantiate each figure?
- are your sales estimates based in reality or have you got carried away?
- have you allowed a realistic time frame to get to breakeven?
For further ideas on ensuring your business plan is complete, take a look at Measure Twice, Cut Once.
Once you have applied this process several times, bring in trusted colleagues or friends, show them the plan and ask them to ruthlessly tear it to shreds. Ask them to be awkward. Turn you inside out. By the end, you will know as much as is possible to know about your business and be confident to put in a good performance.
9. Practice your presentation thoroughly
Your presentation may only be 3 minutes out of an hour’s session but it must be polished, confident, believable, professional, faultless. Ensure every word in your presentation is there for a reason. If it’s not, take it out. Use the adage “Say what you’re going to say, say it, then tell them what you just said”. Have you clearly explained your product, the opportunity and the key financials? Practice, practice, practice.
10. Know the Dragons
There’s tons of information on the internet about the Dragons. The more you learn, the better you can tailor your presentation to hit their buttons.
11. Know the Dragon’s Den process
Finally, good knowledge of the process that you will go through will put you at an advantage to all those candidates who probably won’t bother. A typical process may look like this:
- telephone interview
- two hour ‘mini-Dragon’s Den session
- selection for show
- appearance on show with no guarantees that your performance will be aired on TV
- 3 minute pitch with up to 90 minutes of questioning
Spend some time on the Dragon’s Den website.
12. Know the candidates
Why not contact previous candidates, both successful and unsuccessful? They’re easy to find. There aren’t too many Levi Roots in this country. Google will throw up names. Try, for instance, Lesley Anne Simmonds of Shoes Galore, a successful shoe franchise who put her radio interview about her Dragon’s Den experience on her website. Despite being unsuccessful in wooing the Dragons, she found the whole experience extremely rewarding and has seen her franchise empire boom from the publicity generated.
If you follow the twelve steps highlighted then you will be in good shape to front up to the Dragons. You will have worked hard and planned hard. You owe yourself a good showing. Your preparation will be appreciated by the Dragons Den and you will be richer for the experience .
Tags: dragon's den, small business planning
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