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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.

Solo Mon 21-May-12 13:39:16

Didn't answer my question! pffft!

poppyhattie Sat 19-May-12 07:55:39

I have arranged a load of music for saxophone quartet (there's not a huge amount out there for beginners or more modern stuff) - I would love to get them published and sold in shops/on the internet - I can handle preparing the scores as I have the technology to arrange the music and print it (although not with shiny covers etc - I can only laser print in colour on normal paper/card) but I don't have any idea on how to market and how copyright works so that I don't get into trouble with the original composers, e.g. Lennon and McCartney and classical composers. This has been a dream of mine for ages and I really want it to become a reality so I can carry on being creative and not have to teach teenagers in a comprehensive school until I am 107 or die, which ever comes first...
Please, please help me!! Poppyhattie

Ingles2 Fri 18-May-12 13:57:56

Thanks so much Doug... really appreciated...
And shame on you PatrickMumsnet grin Where were the biscuit ?

PatrickMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 18-May-12 13:43:18


really good to read this webchat, very helpful with good links. The 2 day course looks fantastic but at £495 is sadly out of my league (yet it covers exactly the area I am interested in).

Hi DorisIsWaiting, come on the course Doug is running alongside the MN Academy instead? It is much cheaper

Brill, thanks Doug - a hurdle is a really great idea. I don't want to haggle unreasonably, but nor do I want to be giving away more cash than is necessary. Tell you what, when I'm making a profit I'll buy you biscuits, 'kay?

TantieTowie Fri 18-May-12 13:35:57

Thanks Doug - hadn't thought of it like that...

DorisIsWaiting Fri 18-May-12 13:22:52

really good to read this webchat, very helpful with good links. The 2 day course looks fantastic but at £495 is sadly out of my league (yet it covers exactly the area I am interested in).

BIWItheBold Fri 18-May-12 13:09:30

Fancy not giving him any biscuits!

Shakey1500 Fri 18-May-12 13:08:51

Great web chat. Direct answers, no wishy washey, clear and helpful links.


PatrickMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 18-May-12 13:01:20

A HUGE THANK YOU Doug for all the fantastic advice! For anyone who has enjoyed today, please remember to sign up for a course!

PatrickMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 18-May-12 12:58:04

One last question for Doug anyone?

DougRichard Fri 18-May-12 12:54:06


Hi Doug

What would you advise someone who has a brilliant idea but neither the capital or business experience? Who believes that this dea should be out there but that it requires a leap of faith.

I even wrote to Richard Branson and it's "on file" hmm

And what's your favourite cookie grin

And I like any cookie involving slabs of dark chocolate

DougRichard Fri 18-May-12 12:53:18


Hi Doug

What would you advise someone who has a brilliant idea but neither the capital or business experience? Who believes that this dea should be out there but that it requires a leap of faith.

I even wrote to Richard Branson and it's "on file" hmm

And what's your favourite cookie grin

I thin you should come to one of School for Startup's courses actually. They are meant for you.... The two day course is CreativeBusiness and the one day course in Sept is in partnership with Mumsnet SchoolforStartups

ASillyPhaseIAmGoingThrough Fri 18-May-12 12:48:54

* Thank you for the response *

On a general note, I mentioned in an earlier reply that there are ten questions I focus on, for everyone's general benefit let me post them here:

1. What do we do that people need or want? - The Proposition
2. Who are they? - The Customer and the Market Segment
3. What is it worth to them? - The Pricing Model
4. How do we reach them? - The Channel
5. What relationship do they want to have? - The Relationship
6. Who is our key partner? - The Partner
7. Who are we up against? - The Competition
8. What do we have in common? - The Industry
9. What’s our key asset Key? - The Asset
10. What must we be good at? - The Competency

And if anyone is interested we will be running a 2 day bootcamp for people starting craft and home based businesses called Creative Country Business in June. You can find more info here CreativeCountry

Raspberrypip Fri 18-May-12 12:48:26

Thank you, Doug, will do as you suggest!

Shakey1500 Fri 18-May-12 12:47:53

Hi Doug

What would you advise someone who has a brilliant idea but neither the capital or business experience? Who believes that this dea should be out there but that it requires a leap of faith.

I even wrote to Richard Branson and it's "on file" hmm

And what's your favourite cookie grin

DougRichard Fri 18-May-12 12:45:47


I'm a freelancer at the stage where you have too much work to do alone - and currently I'm outsourcing a fair amount to other freelancers. What's the next step in turning it into a business?

Sounds like you are a business. At some point you will wnt to hire someone rather than outsourcing. Youll make more profit that way. You cross the line when you know there is enough coming in to cover both of you...

DougRichard Fri 18-May-12 12:44:30


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!

Rasberry Pip,
Well that one insurer sounds like an idiot to be honest. I dont know off the top of my head who to go to instead but I would start calling LOTS of insurers and dont stop till youve got lots of competitive quotes and better understand the situation

DougRichard Fri 18-May-12 12:42:43


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.

You have every right to be concerned. It is tough out there right now. Many people would just say go for it. Im not sure I would say that. You have to be clear in your own mind that you have properly assessed the opportunity and that you have enough cash to carry you to cash flow profitability even if things dont go as well as planned....the most common reason for businesses to go out of business is running out of cash, not running out of customers

DougRichard Fri 18-May-12 12:40:32


Hi Doug,

My new start-up mummy business 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

Nice website Alison. You should be focusing on three marketing tactics: PR (getting press to write about), SEO, search engine optimisation on the keywords your customers are likely to look on, and SEM, using googleads to target the same keywords.....That is how most site traffic originates

DougRichard Fri 18-May-12 12:38:22


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, 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,

Sounds like you are off to a good start. I would analyse their offer by trying to put a value on what they are providing...and further what income that would leave you with. There is a case to be made for doing a hurdle each month and splitting 50/50 after that. The hurdle would mean that a certain amount of money goes to them up front first and then you split it equally after that. The size of the hurdle should reflect their hard costs each month...Its tough to know whether 70/30 is a fair split without knowing more numbers....

DougRichard Fri 18-May-12 12:35:23


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?


Stuart I mentioned it earlier but its worth repeating. The best place to do market research in the UK is the British Library's Business and IP Centre here in London. Its entirely free and they have collected up both the best offline and online materials in the world...

DougRichard Fri 18-May-12 12:34:08


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

Sounds worthwhile. There is an emerging movement of social enterprises in this country that is worth plugging into...I would certainly say hello to Unlimited as they are all about helping social entrepreneurs

DougRichard Fri 18-May-12 12:32:50


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?

You could try one of the many Business Angel groups in the UK. There is a group called the British Business Angels Association (BBAA) that lists the angel groups

DougRichard Fri 18-May-12 12:31:54


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?

Hi Somanymiles
As a rule banks dont lend to new businesses. All banks look for two things when they lend: seviceability of the loan and asset backing. Serviceability means can you show that the business can pay the loan back. Of course a new business which doesnt yet have revenue clearly cant show that. Asset backing means that they secure the loan with the rights to an asset (like your house) if the loan goes bad.

Thus as a rule startups dont get loans


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