Advice from the Dragons' den

WATCH your cash, look after your customers and make sure you retain a unique selling point.That was the advice from Doug Richard, arch entrepreneur and former star of BBC TV's Dragons' Den, to 60 business leaders at a meeting at Mattishall's South Green Enterprise Park.

WATCH your cash, look after your customers and make sure you retain a unique selling point.

That was the advice from Doug Richard, arch entrepreneur and former star of BBC TV's Dragons' Den, to 60 business leaders at a meeting at Mattishall's South Green Enterprise Park.

Mr Richard said the troubles on the London markets and Wall Street underlined how “traditional simple business virtues” of being mindful of cashflow were the foundations of success.

The event last Thursday was organised by The Norfolk Way campaign and the Mid Norfolk Enterprise Forum - both the brainchild of George Freeman, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for the new Mid Norfolk seat.


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Mr Richard also used his speech to call for investment in higher speed broadband links for rural East Anglia.

“Norfolk can be prosperous and retain its traditional identity,” he said.

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“It can combine the best of the old and the new. It can have an economy based on well-connected, dispersed rural enterprises, living in a pleasant rural environment but competing in the global economy. But only with world-class communications.”

Mr Richard added: “Our whole model of social and economic development by 'big government' is flawed. The Wall Street and City bubble collapse is demonstrating that sustainability is to be found in sound business basics, in the traditional simple business virtues of watching cash, looking after customers, having a competitive unique selling point, having a distinct business offering and talking to your customers.

“Small businesses always do this.

All we have to do to unlock a revolution in enterprise in Norfolk is remove the barriers that hold back business, invest in world class communications, and promote a positive model of mixed rural development. I strongly support The Norfolk Way campaign.”

After the meeting, Mr Freeman said: “This is exactly what the forum is about: promoting local enterprise, giving local businesses a voice to highlight the issues that matter to us and need tackling locally and nationally, and inspiring us to believe in our entrepreneurial spirit and to demand the infrastructure to support this.

“This area - although very rural - is home to some fabulous small businesses which we need to celebrate and promote. We look forward to expanding The Norfolk Way project to help local businesses and to develop closer links between businesses, schools and communities.”

Thursday's event at South Green, sponsored by Edward Bales of Poultec, saw the launch of a new project which gives local charities the chance to 'pitch' to the assembled businesses. The inaugural pitch was from Dereham's Kickstart scheme, which provides 500 mopeds to help Norfolk youngsters access jobs.

Doug Richard is fronting the East of England Development Agency's new campaign on entrepreneurship called Big Fish. For more information visit www.bigfish4business.com

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