Deborah Meaden shares her secrets

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Deborah Meaden shares her secrets at BETA International!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Dragons’ Den TV star Deborah Meaden has revealed the secret behind keeping fit for her run two years ago in Strictly Come Dancing – horse riding.

“My dance partner told me at the beginning that my legs would kill me after the first week because I was doing 10 hours’ training a day,” she told members of the equestrian and country clothing industry at the BETA International trade fair this week. “But my legs didn’t hurt once because I ride regularly.

“I had no idea what riding was doing for my wellbeing and that’s something I feel quite passionate about. It’s really helped me in a busy life being able to keep my feet on the ground, feel fitter and be more toned and more active. That’s why I get so passionate about it.”

The entrepreneur told her audience at the NEC, Birmingham, that her parents had not been able to afford to buy a horse when she was a child. “So I used to ride ponies on Minehead seafront,” she said. “In return for walking up and down with them, I was allowed to ride them back to the stable at night. My childhood dream was to be a showjumper.”

Deborah, an ambassador for the British Equestrian Federation’s Hoof project, which aims to get more people riding, owns six horses – four of them retired ex-racehorses – and rides twice a day, four days a week. “I love riding and the challenges that horses bring,” she said. “There’s something very special about being around them."

Her audience at the NEC, Birmingham, also received a few tips on launching and running a successful business. “For me, it’s about constantly spotting the opportunity, the ability to take an element of risk, and there’s a bit of bravery in there, a bit of stupidity and a bit of blind faith,” she said. “I don’t gamble, but I do take calculated risks.

“With any new business, the first thing I say is to write on an A4 sheet of paper our ideal customer, where they live, what they read, the way they vote, what they drink, which pub or restaurant do they go to. I want a picture of them. Are they open to being sold to?

“Sometimes I think people come out of Dragons’ Den thinking it’s a shortcut – job done. But that’s just the start. The truth is, this is hard work. It’s not that complicated – it is hard slog. I can honestly say I love it for that. If it was that easy, I wouldn’t get the pleasure out of it. If you’re looking for a shortcut, don’t go into business. If you’re prepared to sing, go on The X Factor.”

Deborah also revealed that the Dragons’ rivalry in the Den stays in the Den. “We are all competitive, we are in there trying to win bids,” she said. “We are not a pack – we are all individual people trying to do deals.

“We are also grown-ups. We film in Manchester, so we all stay in a hotel and, when we come out of the Den, we all have dinner together. What goes on tour stays on tour. We are all very good friends.”

BETA International, the world’s leading trade fair for the equestrian, country clothing, outdoor and pet product markets, ran at the NEC, Birmingham, from 22 to 24 February.