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Eight things you can learn from TV business shows

Newspapers and magazines headlinesThere’s no doubt ‘reality’ TV shows like Dragons’ Den and The Apprentice have raised the profile of entrepreneurship. But do they really show what it takes to run an enterprise? Or are they more about humiliating would-be entrepreneurs in the name of entertainment? We asked you what lessons you can learn from TV business shows - and this is what you told us

1. It’s entertainment first, business advice second. “The need to entertain too often comes above their usefulness to business people!” Ian Hendry, WeCanDoBiz

2. Concentrate on the basics to build your business.“At least 75 per cent of Dragons’ Den contains an insight into what a real business investor would be looking for in a business. The rudimentary basics of cashflow, target market, product growth, etc, are still what the Dragons push home week after week. Their advice has led to a change in business strategy for my own company which so far has paid off.” Charlotte Everiss, Virtual Secretary Solutions

3. Know your numbers inside out. “I am always shocked by the lack of attention paid to financial potential, projected turnover and profit forecasts by the Dragons’ Den entrepreneurs, as opposed to the marketing, branding and communications. This is where so many of those great ideas we see come a cropper!” Susan Alouche

4. Poor presentation skills will cost you dearly. “Dragons’ Den can teach you how easy it is to spot a nervous pitch and help you avoid some of the telltale gestures that give this away. It can also teach you that preparation and practice are vital if you're going to make a solid pitch and survive under fire.” Emily Cagle

5. Everyone is out for themselves. “The Apprentice reminds us that even when working in a team, people are usually primarily concerned with their own success. We can observe how these often conflicting concerns are best managed, and how it manifests when one goal overrides the other.” Emily Cagle

6. Tough negotiators get better results… “I think these shows teach us a lesson about the power of negotiation. Many of the entrepreneurs don't negotiate hard enough to get the best result for themselves. If it’s a great idea, why give it away?” Susan Alouche

7. …but the house always wins in the end. “These shows resemble casinos. If you fancy yourself an entrepreneur and find the doors to success remain stubbornly closed, why not take a gamble? A few winners may emerge from the ranks of the hopeful, but the really big winners are the casino operators. Without The Apprentice, would Alan Sugar ever have found his way to the House of Lords? Without Dragons' Den, would Peter Jones have secured his role as TV pitchman? The lesson from these shows is the seductive power of TV to transform lives and create fortunes.” David Walsh

And finally, here’s a comment from former Dragon, Rachel Elnaugh:

8. If all else fails, cry. “The footage most likely not to end up on the cutting room floor is of the “hapless” ones. Slick, well presented business ideas don’t make nearly such good TV. In fact, if you want a free ad for your business, it’s actually a good strategy to try and get on the show and be ridiculous, burst into tears, etc.  It gives you more airtime.” Rachel Elnaugh