Former Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis shares expert tips for small business owners

Virgin Radio

23 Feb 2024, 12:31

Credit: Virgin Radio / Getty

Entrepreneur Theo Paphitis has given some handy advice for small businesses. 

The entrepreneur comedy star called in to the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch ahead of hosting the latest annual Small Business Sunday at the ICC in Birmingham today (Friday 23rd February).

It is also a weekly online event, whereby Theo announces the week's chosen small businesses, who are then reposted on his Instagram and X accounts. Explaining how Small Business Sunday began over 13 years ago when he "discovered this thing called Twitter,” Theo told Chris: "That Sunday, I was chatting with Mrs P after putting the kids to bed, and we worked out what a great way for small businesses to actually market their services. So I just sent a tweet out and said, ‘First six businesses that tweet me with really interesting tweets about their businesses, I'll retweet them to, what was then, my 50,000 followers.’ And my phone went mental. All these small businesses telling me about their business. So I did it. 

“Then it became a regular Sunday afternoon thing. And it's been going for 13-and-a-half years. We've had 11 of these events during that time, it's been absolutely incredible. And we’ve got 4000 small businesses in a network now.”

Giving a word of advice to anyone who wants to start their own business, the Ryman and Robert Dyas owner said: “If you can work from home, you can work for yourself. Because those are the great disciplines that people are now getting used to. And to be your own boss, to see those ideas come to fruition and reality, the passion, the desire, the drive it gives you, I really can't put it into words.” 

He continued: “Did you know that 50 percent of all small businesses fail in the first two years? That's an amazing stat. And that's because they didn't start right. They didn't have the support mechanism. They had to learn from their own mistakes. If we can cut those mistakes out... imagine what that could do to the economy.”

Sharing some expert tips, the businessman said: “The thing is never to bet the farm on decision making. And you need to remain alive afterwards, if it's not right, and to be realistic about your thoughts. By all means, have that passion, have that desire, but really be realistic, and don't lose the plot. 

“Keep your feet on the ground, and be realistic.”

He added: "You want to be able to catch a cold and get better. What when you don't want to do is get a cold that turns into pneumonia, and then it’s curtains. So that's the important thing."

Theo told Chris and listeners: “I know the economy is difficult at the moment, and we're going through some difficult times both for bigger business and smaller business. But, believe you me, when there's disruption in the market, that's the time small businesses can take advantage by disrupting the market. And that's exactly what we're seeing at the moment.

“I think it is exciting times at the moment. As tough as things get. We've seen some costs come down. We've seen really plenty of disruption in the market. And if you're a small business, think about what you're doing and how you can make a step change. Not so much just a little bit more than you did last year. If you carry on doing the same things, guess what, you're gonna get the same outcome. Try and do something different. I think that's the challenge that we all have and look for that little bit of disruption, do something different. And then you'll get a different result.”

Small Business Sunday continues every Sunday. Visit @Theopaphitis on Instagram and X.

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.