WATCH US ON BBC’S DRAGON’S DEN
(UK’s SHARK TANK)
6 LESSONS FROM A DRAGON’S DEN EXPERIENCE
To be shortlisted and “winning” for the TV Show Dragon’s Den is a real privilege and honour. You are really at the mercy of the mood of the dragon’s and also holding ones nerves from the start of turning up at the studios till the end of the pitch then Q and As.
So to share with other entrepreneurs out there here are 6 lessons to consider
- My customer John said to me where do you want to sell your sauces. I replied the supermarket (with a big beaming smile on my face) and he replied back How will you do that ? My answer – no idea…..
BHAG’s can happen.
By having that initial conversation with my regular customer John it made me consider a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), an exercise aimed at helping you to “think bigger” about your business, although it never seemed practical to me. My BHAG was getting a sauce that we sell in a takeaway carton into a shelf stable products on a shelf I never thought that a seemingly lighthearted pipe dream would lead to something real. I now know that dreaming big can be purposeful, but you won’t know the outcome unless you throw your hat in the ring.
2. Asking for help is a sign of strength.
I am not shy in asking for help. I know what I don’t know and don’t pretend otherwise. This has served me well both as a student when I was younger and as an adult in my professional life. I have always believed that asking questions from experts and seeking out help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It is how I learned about best practices when manufacturing and exporting overseas. It is how I formed productive relationships with other business owners. And it is what led me to realize that I needed a partner to help take Sweet Mandarin Chinese Sauces to another level. I believe the Dragon’s Den producers could understand my business goal and openness in my pitch video. That is what propelled me through the audition process.
3. Entrepreneurial training comes in handy.
Being an entrepreneur is a grind. You breathe your business every minute of the day, always trying to determine the correct next step to propel your business forward. When I was selected for Dragon’s Den, I truly couldn’t believe it that of thousands of applicants they picked me. Crazy. Show preparation is intense. My belief in my product and my hopes for a positive outcome kept me moving forward. My decade as an entrepreneur prepared me, as I knew how to push through, stay optimistic, take one step at a time, trust my instincts and see the finish line. As a business owner, the finish line is always moving but it is the little victories that keep you going. Dragon’s Den reminded me to keep sight of the bigger goal.
4. Dragon’s Den is a reality television show.
Many go on Dragon’s Den for 15 minutes of fame, for brand exposure or for reality TV fun. I went on the show for sincere business reasons, to help Sweet Mandarin Sauces reach its potential. As I prepared with producers and practiced with co-workers, I was focused and pragmatic. It wasn’t until I was standing on the set being attacked by viscous Dragons that I remembered I had agreed to go on a reality television show and that there would “entertainment” at my expense. It was a tough realization, as I defended myself and my business, stated the business case for Sweet Mandarin sauces and tried to gain a partner. I wasn’t fully prepared for how emotional this vulnerability would be, but luckily it was worth it. The happy ending was an amazing offer from not one but two dragons!
5. Patience is a virtue.
Sweet Mandarin Restaurant launched 11 years ago with me and my two sisters. I have learned not how to survive but thrive in a restaurant industry and enjoyed finding my way in the world of food. But after 10 years, in the back of my mind, I have occasionally questioned the end game. Could I take the business to another level? What was the best direction to move forward in a tough economy? I was steadfast and tried to be patient while trying different angles to increase brand awareness. Now, after our appearance on Dragon’s Den it is apparent the brand Sweet Mandarin is bigger than the four walls. We are “fresh” again and have been introduced to so many new customers. Sales are at a happy new “normal.” Our partnership with our retailers is interesting and challenging.Patience has paid off.
6. I am ….
What i learnt on Dragon’s Den is that you have to know who you are, know your products inside out and know how you will build this business and most importantly who will buy your products. I am is a very powerful statement so be clear in your vision and keep moving always.
Chief Sauce Maker