On the up · 2 December 2015

The small business advent calendar: 2 December – The countdown continues

Over the days leading up to Christmas we’ll be revealing one juicy morsel of small business reading every day
Over the days leading up to Christmas we’ll be revealing one juicy morsel of small business reading every day


Elizabeth Galton was grilled by judges including YO! Sushi founder Simon Woodroffe during the first series of Dragons’ Den in 2005. She had gone to the investors in search of funding to expand her jewellery business – aiming to move from producing one-off pieces into creating a commercial collection.

After her appearance on the show, Galton recounted the tortuous experience to The Telegraph: “We were all stuck in one room in a very cold warehouse space in north London. I had to wait around for eight hours and everyone wanted to discuss what they were going to pitch.”

“You’re not allowed notes so you have to memorise your business plan and your profit forecasts for four years. That was really tough,” she added.”I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,”

Her ordeal paid off when Duncan Bannatyne and Rachel Elnaugh pledged a total investment of £110,000 – although she never took up Elnaugh’s offer, plumping instead to work with a third investor from outside the den. Galton was able to buy both of her backers out eight months later.

Research by Tiger Mobiles released in March this year found that 76 of the 143 investments agreed on the first 11 series of Dragons’ Den never went through – with only £5.8m of the £13m pledged ever changing hands. Both times that £250,000 – the highest amount the dragons have ever offered – was agreed, the deal was never completed after filming.

Some 23 of the 143 businesses that pitched successfully on the show have now ceased trading, the data also revealed.

Theo Paphitis, a former Dragons’ Den backer, believes that there is a common reason why so many small businesses – on and off the show – are unsuccessful. He told The Guardian in 2014: “The reason people fail is because they don’t do their homework”


Come back tomorrow to find out what delicious nugget of business news or trivia is behind door two in the Small Business Advent Calendar.

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Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.

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