Shaa Wasmund: The six most common mistakes on Dragons' Den

Every Monday evening, the nation tunes in to watch a selection of aspiring entrepreneurs attempt to win over the fiery Dragons (well, they're not really that fiery, in fact, they're really rather nice!) with their latest invention or service.

While it's wonderful to see so many people starting up their own businesses and gaining much needed funding from the Dragons, it's also interesting to see the kind of mistakes that are made time after time.

So, if you're thinking of approaching investors, in the Den or otherwise, you might want to avoid doing the following.

  • Not having a financial forecast: Ultimately, this is the main information any potential investor will need to know. If you haven't created an accurate forecast, how will an investor know when you're going to make a profit? Or  when they'll get their money back.
  • Having unrealistic financial forecasts: Similar to the above, if you've created a forecast which is based entirely on guesswork, you're unlikely to win the trust and funding of a potential investor.
  • Not having a patent: If your invention hasn't got a patent, apply for one right now. Presenting an amazing product that can easily and legally be copied leaves you open to attack from quick-footed competitors.
  • Ignoring feedback: The majority of investors are in their current position due to being excellent business people. So while they're not necessarily always right, the likelihood is that their advice will be hugely beneficial for you and your company. Being able to take constructive criticism is a rare but valued skill.
  • Not researching your product: There's nothing more embarrassing then discovering your product or service already exists, doesn't work, breaks easily or won't work with certain systems. Particularly when it's a potential Dragon who points this out to you.
  • The right attitude: Investors are investing in you as well as your company, so giving an excellent first impression is essential. Arrogance with no basis, being aggressive and swanning in with little or no research will not do you any favours.

Shaa Wasmund is a serial entrepreneur and Twitter evangelist. Check out her tweets online by following @ShaaWasmund, and vote for her in the business-to-business category in the Golden Twits Awards!

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