Your Business With James Caan 2017 - 38
Top entrepreneur and former Dragons' Den
investor James Caan talks business
rom humble beginnings growing
up in east London, James Caan
turned his back on his father's clothing
business to set up his own. He is now a
multi-millionaire and has received a
CBE for services to entrepreneurship
and charitable services through his
James Caan Foundation.
JAMES'S BUSINESS ADVICE
Every year in the UK, nearly half a
million new businesses are started.
Why do you think so many people
decide to take the plunge?
Britain has a more entrepreneurial
culture than other countries. I've seen
such success stories with people taking
control of their own destiny and having
the freedom to express themselves
through their new business.
Britain is an encouraging nation
for entrepreneurs, with television
shows like Dragons' Den and The
Apprentice bringing the concept of
entrepreneurship into the spotlight.
The government has entrepreneurship
at the forefront of its mind too, and as
a consequence it's easy to set up a
business here. In England, you can
set up a business online in 10 minutes,
and there's much less bureaucracy -
with fewer permits and permissions
- than in other European countries.
We don't realise how fortunate we
are. Capital is much more readily
available here with crowdfunding, the
government-backed Start Up Loans
scheme, the angel investor community
- the environment is perfect.
It was recently reported that the
over-65s are the fastest-growing
group of entrepreneurs, with a
growth rate of 140% in the past
10 years. Why do you think this
is the case?
Some people go through their entire
career thinking about developing an
idea, but don't feel confident enough to
take the plunge because of family and
financial responsibilities. There's less
pressure once children have left home.
You've said Brexit negotiations
shouldn't be reported in the
press because it's detrimental
to progress. Why do you think
this is so?
The UK underestimated the
consequences of divorcing Europe
and what would be involved in the
process of leaving. Most people voted
because of the immigration issue, but
Brexit has huge implications for trade,
culture, manufacturing, services...
Every aspect of our economy has to be
negotiated because 50% of our trade
is through Europe. If every aspect
of the negotiations is reported, how
does it help the process? Knowing
exactly what the other person is
thinking must weaken negotiations.
There should only be reports when
decisions are actually made.
How do you think the UK
economy is currently being
affected by Brexit?
The stock market has rallied, the
economy is good, GDP is good,
unemployment is down. All the
statistics show that Brexit hasn't had
a negative impact on trade, but that's
because nothing has happened yet.
The only issue I can see right now
is the impact of uncertainty.
With all this economic uncertainty
in the UK, is it a good time to start
I've always believed if you can start a
business when the market is tough,
things will only get better when the
economy picks up. Many people,
including myself, have started
businesses during a recession. You
learn more when the market is
tougher - it makes you more resilient,
more hungry and you work harder.
Sometimes if you start a business in
a booming market, you take too
much for granted.
What makes a good business idea?
First, you need a proven need for your
idea. On Dragons' Den there were
people trying to solve problems that
didn't exist. I'm thinking about the
electric shaving brush, in particular.
It was created because of the electric
toothbrush, but what is the problem
the entrepreneur was trying to solve?