My money matters, with entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne

Published by Rob Goodman on 25 March 2015.
Last updated on 27 March 2015

Duncan Bannatyne

Having established his first business back in the 1970s, he went on to build and run a successful care home company that he eventually sold for £26 million in 1996.

He now runs the country's largest independent chain of health clubs and has been awarded an OBE for his charity work.

Duncan is best known for his ongoing role on the popular BBC series Dragons' Den, where would-be entrepreneurs pitch to him and his fellow Dragons in the hope of securing an investment for their business idea. Here, Moneywise quizzes him on all things money.

Q: What was your inspiration for setting up your first business?

I was penniless at the age of 29 and decided I wanted to start a family. I knew children needed to be funded, so I started a business.

Q: What was it and did it involve lots of start-up cash?

My first business was an ice-cream van. I bought it for £450 and I financed it by money I had saved.

Q: Was it a success?

Yes, I worked very long hours to make the business successful.

Q: How did you end up getting into the health club business?

While I was on a skiing holiday, I hurt the ligaments in my leg and had to attend a gym to help repair the injury. While I was there I just kept thinking I can do better than this, so I started to build my own health clubs.

Q: Do you think of yourself as being good with money?

Over the past few years, I have discovered that I am not as good as I thought I was.

Q: Do you have to be good with money to run a successful business?


Q: How did you become part of Dragons' Den? Did you imagine it would be such a huge success when it started?

The producer called me and I just knew it would be a success.

Q: Are there any business ideas from the show, good or bad, which stick out in your mind?

The only good one that got away was Tangle Teezer (a hair product designed to smooth knotted hair, which went on to be stocked in Boots).The product was good but the pitch was badly presented.

Q: Do you think there is enough support in this country for budding entrepreneurs?

I don't believe entrepreneurs need any support – we do it ourselves.

Q: What skills have been most important to your success?

I have no skills; I just work extremely hard.

Q: What has been the biggest indulgence you've ever bought and was it worth it?

My house in Portugal and it was well worth the money.

Q: What purchase could you not do without?

My home that I currently live in in the North of England. It is my dream home.

Q: What's been your biggest waste of money?

Getting married.

Q: What businesses are you currently involved with?

I currently run 61 health clubs, 34 spas, four hotels and one bar.

Q: What's the best advice about money you've ever had?

Get a prenup.

Q: Can money make you happy?

Of course not, that is a silly question. No one ever asks "can poverty make you happy".

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