You gotta grow. You gotta scale. You gotta keep a constant eye on how to turn your small business into a huge corporation…

❌Nope! Nuh-uh! Not even a little bit!

You guys know we’ve always championed ‘small and mighty’ businesses — in fact, that’s pretty much the entire ethos behind ATOMIC.

So who better to headline next year’s ATOMICON than Deborah Meaden (yes, that Deborah Meaden)? The ‘Dragon’s Den’ star admits that our ‘small and mighty’ mission is totally on point for her. She’s spent years convincing entrepreneurs that when it comes to business, small can be just as successful, and often way more satisfying too.

👉 Watch the video


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You gotta grow. You gotta scale. You gotta keep a constant eye on how to turn your small business into a huge corporation…

❌Nope! Nuh-uh! Not even a little bit!

You guys know we’ve always championed ‘small and mighty’ businesses — in fact, that’s pretty much the entire ethos behind ATOMIC.

So who better to headline next year’s ATOMICON than Deborah Meaden (yes, that Deborah Meaden)? The ‘Dragon’s Den’ star admits that our ‘small and mighty’ mission is totally on point for her. She’s spent years convincing entrepreneurs that when it comes to business, small can be just as successful, and often way more satisfying too.

But we just couldn’t wait a full year until tapping into some of Deborah’s wisdom, so we persuaded her to jump on a Zoom call for a little chat. Exciting and terrifying in equal measures!😅

Full disclosure: Pete’s Zoom crashed right before we were about to record and obviously we were super duper nervous (hence Andrew’s totally off-script chat at the end!) but we reckon it went pretty well. Have a read (or watch the video 👆) and drop us a comment to let us know what you think.

Interview with Deborah Meaden

Andrew and Pete: So, Deborah, ATOMIC is for small business owners and we know that you invest a lot in small businesses and that’s one of your passions. What’s your favourite thing about working with small businesses?

Deborah: You’ve talked about my passion but actually, I get that passion because small business owners are totally passionate about what they do; they’re usually full of energy, they’re very committed, they love the thing they do, they’re flexible, they’ve got a good nose. Often, it’s where I go to test the market because they’re so connected to their customers. You can talk to all the researchers in the world but talking to a small business owner — one who actually sees their customer every day — you get a lot of information from that. So, to answer the question, it’s just the energy they bring.

Andrew and Pete: Yes, the energy! We love it. What is your advice for small business owners trying to stand out in this world where they’re forever against bigger competitors; what’s your advice to small business owners to stand out?

Deborah: Presuming that they’re credible, that they’re a business that has their engine room working so that they can actually deliver the product, I like to turn it on its head.

So I’ll talk to a big business and say, “you need to remember that you are a small business that got bigger”. Because you can’t lose sight of the fact that you need to behave in a very personal way and you need to be very flexible and you need all of the things I’ve just talked about, like good judgement, a good nose. Those are the things small businesses have and my advice is to always remember that.

Remember the advantages you have over big businesses — that direct connection and the flexibility — and boy, are we going to need to be able to read a situation and respond to it really quickly as we come out of our current situation. Small businesses are very, very well placed to take advantage of that.

Andrew and Pete: We feel like a lot of guys need to hear that as well. Maybe they’re looking at businesses that are further ahead than them and feel bad about themselves rather than remembering what is actually so special about being a small business and all the great things that we can do as a small business, would you agree?

Deborah: Well, when somebody starts their business, for it to work there must be something special about it. And it’s weird, as people grow their businesses sometimes they turn into this other animal. They all get a bit heavy, a bit fat, a bit slow and a bit disconnected from everything, so guys, don’t forget what you’ve got.

Andrew and Pete: So you’ve talked about having that direct connection…we find a lot of people can be scared of that sometimes…

Deborah: Well, you shouldn’t be in business if you’re scared of talking to your customer, should you? You should be out there proud and shouting to your customers, “look at me, I’m brilliant!”

Andrew and Pete: Yes! We love it, Deborah, we’re also really excited to welcome you to Newcastle for our annual conference, ATOMICON, next year. We know you’re excited to come back up north too — when was the last time you were there?

Deborah: I am excited, and I hope I get a bit of time to actually have a wander around. The last time I was in Newcastle I was actually doing “Strictly Come Dancing”.

Andrew (going off-script!): No way! Deborah, we actually have a jazzy shirt night themed party after ATOMICON so I don’t know if you’ve got any old ‘Strictly’ costumes, but I reckon that would fit right in.
Andrew (still off-script…): We heard that one of your favourite sandwiches is a whole chocolate bar in a sandwich. Is it true and should we add this to the ATOMICON lunch menu?🍫

Deborah: Yes! But it’s not any old bread — it’s cheap white bread. We’re talking no nutrition whatsoever. But I’ve gone plant-based and dairy-free so I can’t have cheap chocolate and cheap bread anymore. I have to have dark chocolate.

Andrew and Pete: Dark chocolate, that might be slightly out of the budget unfortunately. We’re going to have to do some numbers here…

Deborah: Pickled gherkins, that’s another thing I love, so there you go, get me some pickled gherkins.

Andrew and Pete: Okay, pickled gherkins in the dressing room. Plus some cheap bread and fancy chocolate. Done! Deborah, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for spending some time with us today. We know everyone is super excited to see you at ATOMICON — we’ll see you there.

That was amazing, guys, right? Deborah, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for your time. And everyone else — if you want to see Deborah Meaden live at ATOMICON, then make sure you join ATOMIC now. We’d love to see you there!
Now, we’re both going to have to go and chill out for a while until our heart rates go back down to normal 😴See you soon.