Dragon’s Den is a pop-culture cauldron full of new ideas. We watch with bated breath as the intrepid entrepreneurs face the formidable Peter Jones and the team to pitch their businesses plans.

But in many ways, the ideas are the easy part. What is important for an entrepreneur is making them implementable. That means getting the right advice, training, coaching, or mentoring to ensure your light bulb moment has the best chance to grow into a successful, robust, and long-term profitable enterprise. When we discuss pitching with entrepreneurs it’s usually considered a means to an end. What if you turned the pitch around and used it as a tool to test for yourself if your idea is ready to become a product or business?

The act of collecting the information you need for your pitch, and then using this as a "pitch test" becoming your own devil’s advocate and imagining a Dragon scrutinising your plans, allows you to identify weak spots, and turn your plan into a reality. How would you grab the attention of your customer or investor or potential business partner?

Is your idea their solution? Can you grab their attention and interest while succinctly outlining why your idea is the answer to the problem?

Awareness and knowledge of the market is critical, as is evidence of your traction to date to develop a strong pitch.

All ideas are vulnerable, to competition, IP challenges, market change, production capability, supply chain issues: you need to know these risks, fully understand them, and mitigate for them. It may well become clear from the pitch test that you don’t yet have all the answers. This is where the four pillars of support - advice, training, coaching, and mentoring - become essential to every entrepreneur looking to turn an idea into a real business proposition.

• Advice: you ask the question, somebody else answers it.

• Training: you ask the question and undertake a training course to learn the answer.

• Coaching: you ask the question, and you’re guided to find your own answer

• Mentoring: you ask the question, the mentor answers it with a mix of advice and experience.

One of the biggest benefits of accessing the four support pillars is there is no right or wrong order. We’re lucky Scotland has a wide variety of support available from many sources like SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). Take advantage of this wherever possible.

One source of support is THRIVE, for budding food & drink and rural entrepreneurs. This collaborative initiative, delivered by SRUC, SAC Consulting and Queen Margaret University, is well-versed in the commercial reality of the sector and the 2024 programme has just been announced, running August-October 2024.


Kerry Hammond is a principal consultant at SAC Consulting

Agenda is a column for outside contributors. Contact: agenda@theherald.co.uk