Theo Paphitis: How to Start a Business

Kickstarting a season of shows looking at the SME market, we speak to Theo Paphitis, the former Dragon's Den star whose retail group includes companies like Ryman Stationery, Robert Dyas, Boux Avenue and London Graphic Centre. He's also the man behind the phenomenally popular Small Business Sunday network, which he started from his kitchen table in 2010. In this episode we talk about:

  • Why starting a business makes you “bounce out of bed in the morning” 
  • How to deal with the curveballs when they come an SME’s way.
  • Why you should wear your business scars as a “badge of honour”
  • Could he do today what he did when he first started out as a young man?
  • The simple tweet that started the Small Business Sunday phenomenon
  • How he overcame “incredible shyness” to develop a network when he first started in business
  • The “chance network meeting” that led to Ryman Stationery helping him out in his early days
  • Why he runs the Theo Paphitis Retail Group as a small, family business
  • Who’s really making money from online retailing… and why it’s not the retailers?
  • Why retailers need to “have a reason to exist” to get people through the door
  • Ryman's "unique" approach to disrupting the greetings card market
  • Why business rates are "the most unfit tax known to man"

Theo will be appearing at the Evening Standard's SME Expo, where there’ll be 4,000 SME founders and decision makers hearing from keynote speakers and joining in the workshops and networking events taking place over the two days. It’s free, go to for more details. 

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