Frequently Asked Questions
I have found that many people are emailing me with similar requests, so I have put together a list of FAQs to help answer your emails. I would like to thank everyone who takes the time to write to me with their messages of support, comments and feedback.
1. DO YOU REALLY READ ALL OF THE EMAILS SUBMITTED THROUGH YOUR WEBSITE?
I personally read each email that comes through my website, although the volume of requests I receive means I cannot reply to every one personally. I really enjoy reading the emails as they show just how alive and thriving entrepreneurship is in Britain – I find all of the information your hard work and dedication to your businesses very exciting. They are a really useful source of feedback for me and my companies.
2. DO YOU OFFER BUSINESS ADVICE?
Regrettably, I am unable to offer tailored advice about your business, due to time constraints. But my team and I have designed this site to provide a raft of information on starting and growing your business, I recommend you look at my Business Advice section and I really hope you find it useful. Further advice is available in my book, Tycoon.
3. DO YOU OFFER A MENTORING SCHEME?
I do not currently offer a mentoring scheme, although if you would like to apply for a job in one of my companies, you may do so by visiting their website, which can be found on each of their pages on my Portfolio Section of the site. If you have the skills and experience we are looking for, a member of my recruitment company will contact you.
4. DO YOU OFFER WORK EXPERIENCE?
We do offer work experience from time to time so apply via Contact Us section.
5. I AM A YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR, WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO GET STARTED IN BUSINESS?
Firstly, it is worth approaching someone in a similar field to you and asking them for advice. In this way, you’ll gain a mentor who can offer you guidance and vouch for your abilities. As you may know from reading my biography, I first started as an entrepreneur by founding a tennis academy. I gained experience at 12 by helping another coach during the summer holidays. When I launched my own tennis academy at 16, I had a real head start thanks to that prior experience.
Next, there’s nothing like learning on the job. I remember working very hard at making every aspect of the business a success. I gained credentials by acquiring Lawn Tennis Association accreditation. I thought hard about the type of people I would train and the service I would offer. I ended up mailing parents, offering weekend sessions based upon their children’s skill level. The cash quickly started mounting up and I had to learn to handle accounts quickly. All of these skills were quite tough to pick up, but the process was made easier having worked for a mentor beforehand.
My final tip would be to think carefully about how you can be different – and better – than your potential competitors. Look at other companies who offer a similar service to you, and make yours more innovative and distinctive. This can be achieved in a variety of ways such as a unique product, customer service, promotional activity, the type of customer you chase and so on. Just be careful not to underprice or undervalue yourself.
Once your business takes off and the money starts rolling in, it’s tempting to go on big spending binges. Beware! The best entrepreneurs keep a tight lid on expenses and will wisely re-invest profit to continually improve their business.
Remember, keep your imagination flowing and think of things that you would like to do. It is only from using our imagination that we come up with ideas. Make your dreams become reality and do not be put off by any obstacles that arise.
If you are aged between 16 and 18 you may also want to look into my Academy, the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy.
6. WILL YOU CONSIDER MY BUSINESS IDEA FOR INVESTMENT?
If you would like to submit your idea to me, keep checking my website for information on the upcoming Enterprise Challenges where you can win the chance to pitch your idea to me directly. This was set up with the aim of exposing ideas to as much potential investment as possible. I’m very aware of the difficulties that start-up businesses face in finding investment and alongside my small team of investors and associates, I aim to change this. If your idea generates interest, you will be contacted for more details. I have also put together my tips for launching your business.
7. DO YOU SIGN CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENTS?
Due to the high level of pitches that we receive and all of the creative development that my team does in-house, it is impractical for us to sign confidentiality agreements. It’s up to you to weigh up the benefits of submitting your business proposal to the investment team. If you do decide you need to take steps to protect your idea more information can be found on the IPO website here.
8. DO YOU MAKE SPEECHES?
I do occasionally make speeches when it is on a subject that I am passionate about. If you would like to invite me to speak at an event, please contact my team through the ‘contact us’ section of my website.
9. DO YOU DONATE MONEY TO CHARITY OR OFFER SPONSORSHIP?
All of my charitable donations are focussed on my foundation, The Peter Jones Foundation, which aims to help children and young people who fall through the UK’s network of support. I would like to wish all of you who work in this sector all of the best, and I really enjoy hearing about your charitable endeavours, so keep letting me know about your work in this sector!
10. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP PITCHING TIPS?
Dress appropriately: You wouldn’t ask your bank manager for a loan dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, and you shouldn’t expect someone to invest in you if you don’t know what is appropriate to wear in a given situation. Dress according to the job you are applying for, or the request you are making.
Be confident. You should have faith in yourself and your idea. Often I look to invest in an individual as much as in their concept – so show what you can do! You get few opportunities to pitch directly to investors, so make the most of them. Even if they choose not to invest in you, it is a great opportunity to get some feedback from experienced business people.
Be honest about your company and your forecasts. There is nothing more embarrassing than seeing a pitcher crumble when their figures are questioned and picked apart by savvy investors. Do not over-estimate your capability, it will not inspire investors with enthusiasm or confidence in you. Some investments that are made on Dragons’ Den fall through because pitchers over-exaggerate about their business potential, and are misleading about their contacts and their progress so far.
Be concise. Make sure that your business plan can be easily understood by those who you are pitching to and do not waffle. Remember, I want hard facts and figures as well as how you are going to make your concept into reality. What you say must inspire investors, without drifting into a fantasy realm.
My final, and perhaps my most crucial tip of all, is make sure that you research your idea thoroughly! It is amazing how many people try to pitch to me, without having looked into the market sector that they are trying to break into. Sometimes a simple internet search reveals that their idea has been done before, or that their estimation of demand is completely skewed. Look around at your competitors and see how you can offer a better and more competitive service than them.
For more of my tips visit the Business Advice section or follow me on Twitter @DragonJones
11. DO YOU ACCEPT TV PROGRAMME IDEAS?
Yes we do but do not send us anything that you want to protect as your idea because we are always working on new show ideas and as an industry it is very difficult to protect your concepts. We are happy to receive any suggestions and are also happy to work in partnership with third party production companies. Please make contact via the Media Enquiries section if you have an idea for me.
12. WHERE DO YOU BUY YOUR SOCKS?
I have had so many compliments about my socks that I’ve decided to bring out my own range. You can buy them directly from me here.