Peter Jones has been named Britain’s most admired Dragon in a survey of 500 entrepreneurs conducted by small business telecom specialist XLN Telecom. Jones received 31% of the votes, followed by James Caan and Duncan Bannatyne, who each won 20%, while Deborah Meaden was backed by only 7% of respondents.
The survey of SMB owners in a range of industries across the UK comes ahead of the new series of Dragons’ Den, which started this Wednesday on BBC Two.
Peter Jones’s business career was launched at 16 when he founded a tennis academy, before moving into the computer industry where he experienced major success, and then lost everything in a failed business venture. He went on to set up a telecoms firm that now generates sales in excess of £200m a year.
Deborah Meaden’s ‘Boy Scout’ business philosophy of careful time management to increase efficiency came out on top when respondents were asked to match their own working styles to those of the Dragons. James Caan’s ‘Nitpicker’ style ranked second, followed by Theo Pahitis’s ‘Impassioned’ approach.
64% of the entrepreneurs questioned claimed they would feel confident pitching their business to the Dragons on the popular TV show, with the best ways to attract investment named as:
• Healthy sales figures (39%)
• The right contacts (29%)
• A five-year plan (24%)
21% had spent under £1,000 to get their business up and running and a further 18% had spent less than £5,000. The vast majority of the money (64%) had come from personal savings, followed by bank loans (27%) and loans from family and friends (15%). Only 4% had received support from private investors or venture capitalists at the start-up stage.
Christian Nellemann, the founder and CEO of XLN Telecom, which works with over 125,000 SMBs, comments: “The popularity of shows such as Dragons’ Den highlights that Britain is a nation of entrepreneurs, comfortable to take on the risks associated with going it alone in return for the rewards of being your own boss. Many of the most successful businesses are founded on minimal start-up capital saved or borrowed from families and friends.
“Small businesses are invaluable to the economy in terms of the contribution they make to GDP and the jobs they create, employing almost half of the workforce. It is essential that this sector is given the respect it deserves as it is from today’s start-ups that tomorrow’s corporations will emerge.”