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James Caan

‘Stay calm, stay focused, work with the people around you, share the strain, find the solution. Give yourself a chance, not a coronary’

Of all the names Pakistan-born Nazim Khan could have chosen to rename himself, you have to wonder why he chose James Caan. Presumably because Khan/Caan sound the same. But that was pre-Google and searching for James Caan you have to wade through pages of entries about Hollywood tough guys.

Not that this James Caan’s childhood was easy. Having been brought to England aged two, he left home at 16, causing a schism with his textile business owning father.

Instead, James Caan got a job cold calling for a recruitment agency. The job paid just £30 a week cold calling firms to see if they had any job vacancies, advertising that vacancy and trying to recruit for it. The more people he placed, the more Caan earned. After four years of working for somebody else, James decided to launch his own recruitment agency, Alexander Mann.

Cannily, he decided to rent the tiniest of offices in Pall Mall, in London’s elegant St James’s district, because he thought the address would give his fledgling company cachet. He was right. The agency’s prestigious location set the tone for a business he would sell in 2002 for £95m.

Two years later James Caan founded Hamilton Bradshaw, which invests seed and growth capital in recruitment businesses, based in equally tony Mayfair.

However, it was in 2007 that he became a household name as one of the fire breathing dragons on TV’s Dragons’ Den. He stayed on the show for three years but quit to concentrate on his portfolio of interests.

In 2015 James Caan was made a CBE for his services to entrepreneurship and charitable giving through his James Caan Foundation.

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...

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