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Live webchat with former Dragons' Den star Doug Richard on all things business and entrepreneurial, Friday 18 May, 12noon

(63 Posts)
PatrickMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 14-May-12 17:20:37

We are delighted to welcome former BBC Dragons' Den panellist Doug Richard to MNHQ for a live webchat on Friday 18 May at midday. As a serial entrepreneur, Angel investor and all round business guru who has delivered instruction to more than 10,000 business owners with help from universities, public institutions like the British Library and philanthropic organizations like the Royal Institute of Great Britain, Doug is in a great position to answer questions about how to start or develop your own business.

Doug is also the founder of School for Start Ups who will be working with the Mumsnet Academy on a programme which addresses the 10 essential questions you must be able to answer about your business in order for it to succeed. There's not much Doug doesn't know about business so please join us this Friday at 12 midday, and if you are unable to make it, please post a question on this thread in advance.

GentleOtter Tue 15-May-12 19:01:02

Welcome Doug,

I would like to ask if you could offer any advice to school leavers with special educational needs how they go about starting their own business?

Thank you

Get0rfMoiLand Tue 15-May-12 21:53:21

I really like Doug - he was on Dragons Den when it was a bit more serious and less of a reality show like it is now. He was always more interested in the technical innovations if I remember correctly.

BoffinMum Wed 16-May-12 07:56:21

I lead a group of academic researchers. We think we have found a way for GP surgeries to track whether people are in the process of getting early stage dementia, that involves computers. It would cost each GP surgery peanuts, but has the potential for good profits here after NHS reform in 2014, and even bigger ones in the US, plus great benefit to society. Except nobody will give us any money for proof of concept funding, and without this we can't access university facilities and NHS patients to trial the product. Suggestions? We only need £50k at the moment ...

IrnBruAddict Wed 16-May-12 08:18:12

Hello, I'd really appreciate some advice on the following please. I've had a couple of product ideas which I'm fairly sure there would be a market for. However, I work full time, have 2 young children and a not unsubstantial amount of debt... There's no way I can ever develop these ideas, is there?!

ASillyPhaseIAmGoingThrough Wed 16-May-12 22:35:41

I was thinking about starting a small business, with would involve something I am trained in and something I have no qualifications in, that go together. I have a disability that means I can't practice anymore, so was thinking of doing the reception, and managing staff.

I have no idea how you would go about finding out if you would make money at a business, how much things cost, where you would find out about accounts, tax, marketing, employment law etc.

I am finding it hard to get back into work after bringing up my family.

I want to work and work hours that suit my medical needs and there is a low chance someone in my position can get a job, not worked for years, needing certain hours, and not being as mobile as I was when I worked before in the middle of a recession.

Is there somewhere you can suggest that helps people starting out with information, that does not cost too much?

hartleyhare Thu 17-May-12 13:30:05

I have thought for years about opening my own play area for children, however i dont know where to start! I have so many ideas and plans but need advice on how on earth to get the ball rolling?
Thanks in advance smile

LIF Thu 17-May-12 15:23:25

Hi Doug

I am a mum of 2 young children who lives in a small town where there isn't alot for families to do!! So I am thinking of opening a
Children's/ family cafe! I have enquired about some commercial units that are available for rent but to be honest I don't know what to next!

Please can you give me some guidelines on what to do next, in regards to business loans, employment laws, equipment purchasing/ hiring!!

Many thanks
Louise

GeeandTee Thu 17-May-12 17:28:03

DH is considering getting investment in his social enterprise that has been running for 7 years, but someone recently said that an equity investment into a small social enterprise could be a terrible idea for two reasons: first, it is unlikely to monetarily value the social impact (which wouldn’t show as financial revenue stream) and second, there’s unlikely to be an exit for the investor, which again could skew the valuation.
 
Could an investment work, or should he seek further loan-capital?  (and would someone do that interest free do you think?)
 
Thanks!
 

JOSC Thu 17-May-12 17:57:17

Hi Doug,

I wondered if you had any advice about how to obtain grants for funding the promotion of a small home business such as mine, see www.jccopy.co.uk.

Do you know anyway of obtaining these for marketing my business?

Thank you
Joss Crispin

Solo Thu 17-May-12 18:14:13

Hi Doug, welcome to the vipers nest! grin

I have a good idea for a child safety 'thing' wink, but don't know how to go about getting it started. I have no money, so how can I get it off the ground please?

whoseideawasthepuppy Thu 17-May-12 19:43:56

Hi Doug,

We are starting an online subscription business and have £25K to put towards start up costs. We are interested to know how much of our budget should go on Branding and Website, given that we will have no other shop front?
Should we use the bulk of the money to test the product/ market research
or
Should we use the bulk of the money to have an agency create a brand and a website?
or
Should we save the money, do our own naming and design and branding and use the money elsewhere?

Any other top tips most welcome.
Many thanks

camdenflick Thu 17-May-12 19:52:49

Hello Doug

I'm sure my question will be of interest to others too: how does one go about pitching a home made/designed product to the buyers at a high street supermarket or big-name store such as Habitat or Debenhams?

Many thanks in advance.

onemother Thu 17-May-12 20:56:23

hi i have wanted to start my own bussiness for a few years and had a stall in petticoat years ago but i am in a steady secure job, and a little wary as you see small bussinesses closing all the time, i have lots of finacial committments. what would you suggest, by way of staying in my full time job but starting somthing small, from home or at the weekend.
thanks
lorna

somanymiles Thu 17-May-12 21:02:20

I second the questions about where to get information about the myriad of things you need to think about when starting your own business. Also, how much of your own money do you need to be putting in? If you are going to ask your bank for a start-up loan what percentage of the money you need should you ask for?

jenn4 Thu 17-May-12 21:08:34

Hi,
I have an idea for a range of products and an interactive website that will benefit children and the environment. I have researched the idea and cannot find anything similar. I am a stay at home mum, and have little capital. Are there people/ places/ organisations whom I could pitch too to get investors or grants to get it going?
Thanks

alicimo Thu 17-May-12 22:15:41

Hello Doug,
My name is Tara. I have worked as a children's nurse for the past 5 years, organising overnight stays and play provision for disabled children with a group of very talented playworkers. We all now face redundancy as our employer Camden Council is outsourcing all provision. We want to continue and develop what we do, hopefully offering provision to children who do not meet the increasingly high criteria of local authorities but would really benefit from the outdoor experience, making new friends, building fires, night time walks etc. We also hope to offer city children some luxury..more glamping than camping! We have already registered as a social enterprise, and are awaiting charity status and really want to start the ball rolling. We would be very grateful for any advice or help you can offer. Thank you, Tara

Twojacks Fri 18-May-12 09:02:57

Hi Doug,

I have an idea for a niche software product aimed at micro businesses for which there is a potentially huge national (up to 100,000 customers in this sector) and international market (unknown number of customers) and very few competitors which all appear to the targetting national UK market. I want to do some in depth market research prior to trying to finding a finiancial business partner with suitable contacts. What route would you best advise for market research?

Regards,
Stuart

Hi Doug, thanks for giving this chance to mumsnet!

I'm returning to work as a physio after 8 years at home. Can't get a school-hours-school-term job in the NHS (fancy that!) so am setting up my own private domicilary service, will be visiting mainly elderly folk in their own homes. That's what I did in the NHS, and the waiting lists are getting longer - and we live in an area with lots of affluent seniors.

I have bought a "clinic-in-a-bag" and a "gym-in-a-bag" and am ready to go.

The only problem is that I am obliged to maintain my training, which as a sole practitioner is not easy to do...so, I approached an established physio clinic who currently do not offer my service and suggested a "friendly working business arrangement" whereby I'd join in their training programme and pick off the domiciliary referrals they don't want.

They would actually like me to join their team and set up under their banner - which is great, means I'll have professional support, admin support and holiday/sickness cover.

In return, I'd pay them a split of what I make - they are suggesting 70:30. Would you say that is fair?

I've got until October when this arrangement will hopefully be contracted between us - suppose by then I proved that there is work, that I have a good plan of how to progress things and it is profitable, would 70:30 still seem fair?

thanks in advance
kisses to Evan,

KINGBABA Fri 18-May-12 10:35:18

Hi Doug,

My new start-up mummy business www.doodleboobaby.co.uk is actively trying to increase visitors to the site. What are your top tips about coverage in old school media and getting your foot in the door?

Many thanks
Alison

Ingles2 England Fri 18-May-12 11:35:31

Hi Doug
I am getting ready to open a craft shop in my local chocolate box town...
I've spent a long time on my business plan, have talked to lots of people and I think I'm just about ready to go for it..
however ... I'm absolutely petrified of going for it... everyday the world economic news gets worse, small shops are closing daily,
IYHO, would it be better to sit tight and wait to see what will happen in the next couple of months? or do you think if your business plan is good, you should go for it, regardless of the economy?
The thought of losing my family savings / safety net is giving me sleepless nights so any advice gratefully received.

Raspberrypip Fri 18-May-12 11:58:30

Hello, my husband is about to start a business in general maintenance and possibly chimney sweeping. We have been told by one insurer that they will give him the necessary third party cover only for three trades, but he is likely to be doing kitchen fitting, plumbing, decorating, chimney sweeping, door hanging, garden maintenance and several other trades too. We are not sure where we should go to sort out insurance to cover the wide range of trades he is able to offer. Can you advise? Many thanks!

PatrickMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 18-May-12 12:00:06

Hi everyone,

Please extend a warm welcome to Doug Richard and keep your business questions coming.

DougRichard Fri 18-May-12 12:02:00

GentleOtter

Welcome Doug,

I would like to ask if you could offer any advice to school leavers with special educational needs how they go about starting their own business?

Thank you

Hi Gentle Otter
I think that someone with special needs faces the same challenges as everyone else these days. Before you start a business, any business, you must do the thinking and research that lets you start on the right foot. You need to know that there is demand for your product, a market segment, a pricing model, a business model, a distribution strategy etc.... Research first
oug

DougRichard Fri 18-May-12 12:03:25

BoffinMum

I lead a group of academic researchers. We think we have found a way for GP surgeries to track whether people are in the process of getting early stage dementia, that involves computers. It would cost each GP surgery peanuts, but has the potential for good profits here after NHS reform in 2014, and even bigger ones in the US, plus great benefit to society. Except nobody will give us any money for proof of concept funding, and without this we can't access university facilities and NHS patients to trial the product. Suggestions? We only need £50k at the moment ...

Hey Boffin, (I love that word we dont have it in the States) The best place for that kind of money is the Technology Strategy Board who focus on that kind of funding, the alternative are the regional proof of concept funds like they have up in Newcastle
Doug

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