7 P’s to start your business: James Caan of Dragon’s Den

It seems that everyone wants to go into business these days. Last year, 500,000 new businesses were started in the UK alone, and globally there are estimated to be over 400 million entrepreneurs.

Shows such as Dragons’ Den, The Apprentice and Shark Tank have increased the popularity of becoming an entrepreneur, and the economic downturn of the last few years means people are more willing to get out there and become their own boss.

As Chairman of , I have seen what an appetite there is for entrepreneurship, which is fantastic to see, but to succeed you need a mixture of talent and skills as well as a slice of good fortune along the way. Before taking the huge step of going into business, you need to ask yourself whether you have the right personal characteristics.

Here are just some of the skills you may need to succeed.


No one is going to become a millionaire overnight and there are plenty of entrepreneurs, including myself, who have suffered failures. If you fail the first time around then don’t just give up. Pick yourself up, dust yourself down and then start all over again. I believe you never stop learning and growing and even the low points have been important to my development.


Every journey has to start somewhere. Businesses have to be nurtured and developed. It takes time and effort to build up a successful company and you should not expect to make huge profits immediately. The main thing you should be focusing on is getting a stable foothold in the market and making people aware of your brand. All the best companies take time to develop and you need to understand that Rome was not built in a day.


There is a very thin line between confidence and arrogance but everyone who is successful in life has to have their fair share of self-belief. Business is about making people have confidence and belief in you and the service or product you are offering. If you do not believe in yourself then how are you going to get other people to believe in what you are doing?


I have always been a big believer in keeping overheads to a minimum. Of course, being successful in business comes with its rewards but in the early days you should put as much back into the business as you can. When those payments first start coming in don’t fall into the trap of splashing out on expensive items that are not necessary; concentrate on the basics. The first rule of business is always to keep a close on eye on profit margins so you can build a company that is going to survive if and when the hard times come along.


Obviously, you don’t want to be the kind of person who stands out in the crowd for all the wrong reasons but there is no harm in having a bit of style and panache. Business is all about selling yourself as much as anything and I believe even in the business world, people like someone who has a bit of character and a certain sense of style.


If you understand what makes other people tick then it can be a great help when it comes to sealing that all important deal or landing a new piece of business. Making a successful pitch or presentation is all about being able to understand exactly what your client wants and then being able to deliver on your promises.


The most important quality of all. You should wake up every day raring to get out there and do business. It’s tough but it should never feel like a chore and you should have absolute belief in your ability and your business. If you want to be the best at anything then you have to really care. Even make some personal sacrifices along the way. If you’re not prepared to dedicate yourself to the business then there is no point in setting up on your own.