Retail entrepreneur Theo Paphitis took to the stage at Spring Fair this week as part of the show’s continuing ethos to support and guide new industry talent.
Interviewed by The Sun’s Ashley Armstrong, the Dragons’ Den star shared advice and anecdotes with a packed audience of retailers. He said: “I’ve had an incredibly vibrant career. Hunger and passion is key, but it can’t be taught. There are different levels of entrepreneurial success. Most entrepreneurs are dreamers; I’m still dreaming. The dreams drive us but you have to make those dreams come true and that’s the difference; having the drive the realise it.”
He went on to discuss the support he provides start-ups through the #SmallBusinessSunday campaign. “Small Business Sunday came about as I’d just joined Twitter and got all these followers. One Sunday I thought, ‘why I don’t I use these 50k followers to some benefit?’ I started by retweeting the first half a dozen people (who sent me a tweet) telling me a little bit about their business. Now we do it every Monday morning and it’s grown into our event, self-help groups, and forums.”
Offering advice to small business owners, he said: “Business is common sense – don’t be shy, stick your elbows out and know your numbers,” adding that “50 per cent of all small businesses fail in the first two years because people don’t know their numbers and haven’t done their homework.” He said: “Lots who fail the first time go on to succeed the second by learning from their mistakes, finding places to get help and understanding the things that really matter in business.”
When asked how small businesses can manage cash flow post pandemic and cost of living, Theo responded: “It has been difficult. You couldn’t make it up with Russia and Ukraine, cost of living, inflation and energy costs – it’s been very difficult for us to plan. We have to build in what we’re doing with some margin for error, but I still believe there is opportunity. As a small business, if you remain agile and survive for the next three years and do it in this market, you’ll have great foundations.”
Spring Fair continues to champion the most innovative and inspiring start-up businesses who have been trading for less than 18months in its expanding newcomer areas. Buyers can now discover the latest new talent in Beauty First, Kids First, Fashion First, and Gift First, as well as the GCA Debut area in collaboration with the Greetings Card Association (GCA).
Following a successful four-year partnership with Autumn Fair, which has supported around 40 start-up businesses so far, Theo Paphitis’s #SBS Small Business Sunday winners are now hosted in the #SBS Village at Spring Fair.