James Caan: no limits

Star of Dragons’ Den and multimillionaire recruitment entrepreneur James Caan talks to SmallBusiness.co.uk about the importance of SME finance and how Dragons’ Den has helped the UK economy.

Does Dragons’ Den put people off starting a business?

I’m a great believer in the glass being half-full; look at Levi Roots for example, he’s gone on to be a great success.

I don’t know why it is, but in Britain we have a tendency to look at all the negatives, when we should just be inspired by people doing well.

There have probably been 30 to 40 businesses launched as a result of the show. The result is that Britain has become a more entrepreneurial culture.

Have attitude from the budding entrepreneurs changed?

The level of enthusiasm hasn’t changed at all.

The business climate is not an issue as people can’t determine when they have a great idea. I started my business Humana International in 1992 when we were in a recession and at the time everyone laughed at me. I managed to grow it into 147 offices in 30 countries.

What holds people back?

The limitations of funding has always been a big disadvantage to people starting up. I think it’s often best to start by approaching friends.

Following the government’s £20 billion rescue package, [one of the things I’ve been involved in] is trying to ensure such proposals as these are available and well communicated to small businesses – who need them most.

The mere fact that a lot of people don’t know how to access money needs to be addressed.

Do you intend to stay on Dragons’ Den?

I have plans to start the next series in April and am currently still shooting my third season. We only get commissioned for one season at a time, so I don’t know beyond that.

Adam Wayland

Adam was Editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2006 to 2008 and prior to that was staff writer on sister publication BusinessXL Magazine.

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Dragons' Den

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