The slaying of a dragon

rachel.jpgRachel Elnaugh, one of the original Dragons, certainly seems to polarise opinion. Her fall from grace when her company Red Letter Days collapsed in 2005 saw the press unable to resist poking fun with headlines such as ‘Entrepreneurial guru goes belly up’.The release of her book telling her version of how it all went wrong, ‘Business Nightmares’, has been met, in certain quarters, with similar derision. Jonathan Guthrie’s piece in the FT was probably the harshest, if best written.I guess if you put yourself up to be shot at and make yourself a celebrity for criticising others’ ideas you’ve little room to complain about being machine-gunned down when it all goes wrong.Should that really be the case, though? It’s certainly how celebrity works but all sections of business frequently preach about the need to change our attitudes to failure. In the same breath, there’s almost always a call to support more female entrepreneurs (note Peter Jones rarely gets pulled up for his previous failures).Rachel’s business failed, but before it did it made handsome profits and generated significant wealth and employment.As the book sets about telling, the downfall of the company and particularly the reaction from the media, people she felt she could trust in business and the banks, knocked her for six.The whole process left her questioning her future as an entrepreneur. Indeed, her blog makes candid viewing of a rehabilitation that she’s seemingly still emerging from. Its popularity and the many messages of support she receives suggest she's certainly not alone.Whatever your view of Rachel and her role in Red Letter Days' problems, her plight surely isn't a healthy reflection of how we view failure.

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