Investing in the Future | A Q&A with Business Entrepreneur James Caan

12 July 2019

An expert in building successful businesses, a dragon on BBC's Dragons Den and CEO of investment firm Hamilton Bradshaw, James Caan  is well placed to give expert business  advice.

James' success exploded from working in the recruitment  industry, which soon led to him founding Alexander Mann Group and Humana International before securing him a spot on the notorious TV show, Dragon's Den . During his time as a dragon, James invested £1 million in 14 companies.

With a wealth of stories and experience to draw upon from his countless successful companies, James educates and entertains all kinds of audiences. We recently caught up with him to get some top tips for budding entrepreneurs  and investors, and find out what's on the horizon.

During your time on Dragons Den you invested in 14 companies. What was it that you looked for within the company and pitch that led to you investing?

I am a firm believer that you cannot be a part-time entrepreneur, certainly if you want to grow a business of real scale. By demonstrating your commitment and convincing me beyond all reasonable doubt that you are capable of making the business a success.

You are the definition of a serial entrepreneur and have a plethora of successful businesses under your belt, what are some tips you would give aspiring entrepreneurs?

Will my idea really make a business? Your first idea does not have to be your best, it is only your first. Concentrate on finding the right one. Don’t worry if it’s not workable. Move on. Learn from the experience and concentrate on finding the right idea. The question to ask is not what is unique about your idea but what is compelling about it?

Does my idea work? Crystallization is that moment when your idea starts ticking the boxes, answering all the basic questions. The question today is: does your idea work? Avoid getting caught up in all the micro detail and focus on the key elements.

Have I put together the right team? Usually one person cannot be the ideas genius, the financial wizard and the salesman rolled into one. Genuinely multi-talented business people are few and far between. Setting up your own business doesn’t have to be a lonely and solitary journey. You may have the heart of an entrepreneur but you’ll need help along the way to assist with the key roles.

Do my costings add up? You don’t have to be a spreadsheet genius to work out the costs of your business. Anyone with a calculator can do costings. It’s the most basic process of adding up and taking away. Remember to value your own time too, so include your own salary in projections. You’re not going to work the rest of your life for free!

If there was one message that an audience could take away from your speech, what would it be?

Observe the masses and do the opposite: it is much easier to be part of the crowd than not, but an entrepreneur may need to swim against the tide!

Finally, what’s next for you James?

I am currently looking at investment in the technology  space. Technology is a high-risk area for investment but has a high rate of return if you get it right, so watch this space!

Thank you for taking the time to chat to us James, we look forward to hearing about your success with investing in the future of tech.

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