Reality Start-Up TV

We were recently asked to comment whether TV shows like Dragons’ Den and The Apprentice are good for British business. When these programmes were first aired they were highly entertaining and a real boost to the idea that entrepreneurship is for everybody. However I have always felt that they portray a very warped sense of what it means to be in business, and in particular what is involved in getting a new venture off the ground for the following reasons:

  1. Chasing cash not customers – Much more important than chasing investment, is having customers who really want to buy what you are offering. By prioritising money, these shows portray entrepreneurship as a rather grubby and desperate business.
  2. Ignoring the cameras – Virtually none of the people and businesses in these programmes would succeed without the huge promotional benefit of prime time television exposure, a point which is always overlooked or ignored.
  3. Perverse power plays – All the power in these shows is typically on one side – with the dragons or investors – might make for good TV but is not the way to get ahead in business, which requires empathy, collaboration skills and a much less aggressive style of working.
  4. Crude creative quality – The quality of the ideas featured on these shows are generally terrible. This is probably deliberate on behalf of the producers as it can be quite funny, but doesn’t encourage people with really good ideas to participate.
  5. Extreme unprofessionalism – Despite the prevalence of all of the power suits, many of the most entertaining elements of these programmes is when people are made to look silly or squabble, which wouldn’t be a way to get ahead in business.

Whilst these programmes have undoubtably boosted peoples interest in entrepreneurship, they are now really rather outdated, and they remind me of nightclub scenes in soap operas in the 80’s and 90’s which were always so staged and unrealistic.

I really think that there now needs to be a far more realistic and a more ambitious shows on TV that show what a fantastic place the UK really is for creativity, innovation and entrepreneurs.

by Roland

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