Deborah Meaden – Small Business


“Don’t expect anything from anyone, work hard, keep your head down, be good at what you do and good things will happen …”

Bluff, sober advice from Deborah Meaden, who has taken one of the chairs The dragon’s den for 15 years. Over the years, Meaden has invested over £ 3 million in over 70 business ideas featured on the show.

Meaden’s own business career, however, was not an instant success. She started young. When she was just 19, she moved to Italy to start her first business, exporting ceramics and glass to UK retailers including Harvey Nichols. The company flopped and they folded after just 18 months – knowing when to fold your hand, she later said, is one of the most important lessons any business owner can learn.

> See also: Deborah Meaden: ‘The shortest pitch I’ve ever seen was 11 minutes. It was wrong in every way

She then joined Weststar Holidays, her own family business, which operated holiday parks throughout the southwest. Meaden started at the bottom, emptying slot machines in arcades. However, three years later, at the age of 32, she became the managing director.

Meaden made her fortune after staging a management buyout of her family business after her mother and stepfather retired. Under their ownership, the company provided vacations to more than 150,000 people each year, with sales exceeding £ 11 million. The company was sold in part to private equity and in 2007 its last 23 percent stake was bought by Alchemy Partners for a reported £ 19 million.

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