Need advice? We consulted the youngest winner of BBC's Dragon's Den
Arminder Dillon Singh is the youngest entrepreneur to ever win investment on Dragon’s Den. At just 15 years of age, he received £60,000 from three Dragons for his boot cleaning invention. Arminder invented the Boot Buddy as an all-in-one device to clean muddy football boots.
We asked Arminder to give us advice about starting up a venture and how to survive working in a family business.
1. Think it through
'If you have an idea, think it through. Determine if it can work, if it’s plausible,' says Arminder. It’s important to be grounded and honest with yourself about your product, otherwise you’re wasting your time. Originally, Arminder created a Booty Buddy prototype consisting of a drink bottle, a brush and a plastic knife, purely for personal use after playing football. Once he realised the potential of the device he had created, he went on to refine the product to create the Boot Buddy.
2. Have a Plan
Planning ahead manages risk and uncertainty as well creating competitive advantages for business. 'Do what I did which is go to my brother or go to someone who can give you a business plan or help you write one up because then you can achieve your targets in an orderly manner,' says Arminder. From product conception, to manufacturing, marketing and distribution, there are sectors to manage. Clear business plans and goals also makes businesses more attractive to potential investors, as evidenced by the success of the Boot Buddy on Dragon’s Den.
3. Get Mentors
With backing from Dragons, the Singh family has access to some of the biggest business minds in Britain. 'We get great advice across the board. Deborah for example knows the outdoor market fantastically, Peter’s got massive links to sports so helps that way and Touker’s teaching us something new every single day,' says Arminder. Sure, not everyone will be able to be mentored by Dragons but there are plenty of business owners who could potentially provide mentorship to budding entrepreneurs. Mentors can pass on their experience, expertise and wisdom down to young entrepreneurs.
4. Play to your strengths
As a family business, the Singh’s know it is important to acknowledge their weaknesses and play to their strengths. 'Know what your strengths are within the business. If you’re not the best at finance you should actively get help before you get in trouble' says Gurminder. Arminder’s story of creating the Boot Buddy is an important part of marketing, so he works as a figurehead for the business. His parents and brother’s background in running businesses mean that they can work in the background to ensure everything runs smoothly.
5. Keep family and business separate
Understandably, the running of a family business can result in some friction between family members over disagreements at work. 'Always remember business is business and never take things personally. Leave the business at work… home is only for family,' says Rashpal, Arminder’s mother. Arminder’s whole family is involved in the business. Remember that the whole point of a family business is to create a better quality of life for the family so fighting over business is counterintuitive.