It is the day after we entered Dragons Den.
Written – 12th May 2015. Show aired 30th August 2015
It is the day after we entered Dragons Den. When anyone reads this it will probably be the night it has aired and family, friends and customers discover what we did and how it went.
I dropped Lorraine in Penrith yesterday on my way home and have been mulling ever since. So I decided to sit down and write this now, as it could be 8 months to a year before the episode is aired… if at all and I wanted to capture the intense roller coaster of feelings and thoughts that have ran through my head over the last 24 hours.
We found out for certain we were going in, very last minute on Thursday 7th May, the same day everyone was voting in the 2015 general election. Dragons Den had called me every year for the last 3 inviting us to apply for the show and I had always decided against it, desperately wanting to do it all without investors, but then I thought I have to stop being so proud and get help. Our business is exploding and not only did I need advice on what to do with certain things, I needed money to help cashflow and propel the business forward. This year, I thought ‘why not’ and went for the audition, and was waiting to hear if I would make it through to the ‘real’ den. From that moment on the 7th my body had a physical reaction of nerves like nothing I have ever felt before. I was quite taken back by it, I have done a lot of scary and silly things in my life, couple of bungee jumps, rock climbing, hitch hiking (sorry mum!) and had extreme moment of anxiousness and nerves. but as soon as I put the phone down, wave after wave of nausea came, my head would not switch off, but was randomly dancing all over the place. I can honestly say I did not sleep for 4 nights. But as soon as ‘we’ (it was really just me) screwed it up…that feeling did not completely vanish as I had hoped, but it eased.
It is over 24 hours since the lift doors closed behind us as we exited the den and still I feel waves of slight sickness, I hope they go soon, as its getting tiring now! But having thought of little else , I know why I feel so sick. There is the obvious embarrassment and sickness of doing a classic dragons den screw up! I have sat on my own sofa , countless times… shouting at the TV, feeling utter disbelief that people could go in so unprepared and not know all their numbers. If I ever went on Dragons den, there is no way that would happen to me…. Er…. well…. Er… it just did! My husband, is going to get me a T shirt for the night it airs saying ‘I screwed up my numbers on dragons den – school boy error’ or words to that effect! I like how we can laugh about it! But it’s the fact people will see it and they don’t know that I am not the idiot that stood there fumbling…honestly I am not! But many will think I am!
(found the name of the car park where our audition was amusing!)
The whole process despite the obvious disappointment of being so close but no cigar, has been fantastic. It’s made me have a long hard look at myself and my business and man, have I got plans now to make things even better. Because aside from the disappointment, lets get a few things into perspective. Despite my dramatics of saying something like ‘this is my life and my business on the line’ in my pre Den interview (not sure if they will air that bit, hope not!) It is not that dramatic, life does go on… we have a cracking business, we have fantastic brands and product and I will reach my goals and dreams. It supports my family, I get to work at home which is what I wanted and still afford a few luxuries. I choose my hours, I am in charge of my own destiny, I get to see my kids in every school event without having to beg the boss. And I don’t know anyone else who has been through this experience, apart from Lorraine! And I reckon that’s an exclusive club of around 1200 people in the whole of the UK. And the process from the phone call, to getting in, is robust, and tough… and we made it! So until you have done it… don’t watch mine thinking ‘you should have known your figures’. I do know my figures, I just could not think of the error in that nano second!
I have always known my strength is I am a reflector, I am not a quick thinker, maybe not the best skill mix for the Den! I am that person who after a conversation thinks ‘I wish I had said x, why did I not think of y’. And that’s what happened in the Den. Deborah was definitely interested, she wanted to invest… but as my accounting software had spat out some numbers that I had just memorized without thinking about them too much, so had not spotted the massive error in them. Being a reflector and analyzer it hit me on the way home like a big slap in the face and a stab in the heart. My accounting software cannot count and account for closing stock, so it had falsely screwed my gross and net profit not to add up, because it had not taken out unsold stock I had paid for, but not sold! Que the big ‘DOH!” moment. And it would certainly have made the figures add up to be a nice investment opportunity for Deborah! I had focused most of my 4 day prep time on pitch practice and overcoming product objections, as the one thing I was MOST scared of was them not liking my products! Turns out they all loved them!
So I am still feeling sick and disappointed and here is why…
– My error lost me not just the investment opportunity but the dragon, which in my view was worth more than the money!
– I know the hour and a half we were in there will be edited to either 30 seconds or 10 min’s, with my worst bits in for effect…if you screw up an interview no one sees it…let alone have the edited lowlights broadcast for all to see!
– I have two very good friends who are accountants who will be saying ‘I could have helped you!
– I will be made to look silly for including Moozels, but it was a chance in a lifetime to show them off, not just to the dragons but on TV and now all three of my brands can use the as seen on badges… I could not, not have taken that chance!
– I know the nature of social media now is that there will be people that will hate our products and our business and I will have to ask Lorraine to man the fort on Twitter and FB for a week or so until it dies down as I will take it all far too personally!
Now look at the good, and there is a lot more of that than the bad!
– Our little business that started in Dec 2010 in our kitchen with Stuart tying knots in strings and clasps was on Dragons Den – that does not just happen, that’s a lot of work.- Our products were liked by all! And will hopefully all get a good showing on TV!- I am sure there will be lots of good things said on social media not just bad!- I will take Toukers advice and slow down a bit on the clothes, we had bought the babygrows anyway, but there is no rush… I started slowly when we began, I should do the same with this. I have already started looking at other investors- I will get a mentor as Sarah suggested.- Miller met 5 dragons – who we called ‘the angry people’ so he would not go back to preschool and blow our cover! He liked Sarah and Deborah, said they were smiley!- The 5 dragons said goodbye to Miller!- I saw Bobby Ball and Ash (Patrick Robinson) from casualty in the corridors!- I have done something that only another 0.000016% of people will ever say they did!
I know there is a lot of good in it, but I cannot help feeling disappointed over what could have been! Just so silly, if I had a quick-thinking brain I would have known that in a nano second, why did it take me until Bolton on the M6 for it to dawn on me! If it had dawned on me when I was in there, I would be writing a very different story!
So this is me now writing today… after the program aired. The scariest thing about it was wondering how they would edit it. I feel they were pretty fair. We covered so much more than they showed and it did not show how much Deborah loved our products and was so, so close to investing. However, we are already getting lots of inquiries and interest in investing in our business and I have high hopes for the future. I cannot thank everyone enough for their kind words and support before and after it aired. I feel all warm and fluffy inside. I am also proud of what we have done and thrilled to have done it with Lorraine who is an absolute core part of this business and a real superstar.