Delboy’s top ten business lessons

He’s the ultimate opportunist; the indomitable wide-boy: he’s Derek Trotter. Who’d have thought his antics would have such a profound effect on the small British business? Check out these pearls of wisdom from David Jason’s best character to date.

1.The eternal optimist“For me, the truly inspiring thing was Del Boy’s unstoppable enthusiasm as an entrepreneur and that fantastic line, full of hope: ‘You wait Rodney – this time next year we’ll be millionaires!’” Mike Lawton had a baptism of fire founding bio-fuel firm Regenatec. Finally, he’s seeing his five years of research bear fruit: “Del does see the dream come true in the end, which just goes to show, as an entrepreneur, you should never, ever give up believing in yourself and your dream.”

2. It’s all about who you know“You see, Abdul’s cousin’s girlfriend’s brother’s mate’s mate, right, he’s a gamekeeper down at one of those private zoos! And Monkey Harris’s sister’s husband’s first wife’s stepfather, right, he works for an animal food company. So put the two together and what you got – a nice little earner,” quotes Adam King, founder of bespoke London tailor King and Allen. “Amazon lists 699 books relating to the subject of Networking. Delboy sums it up in three sentences. The man is a genius!”

3. Don’t be afraid to failThe US is always praised for its positive attitude to failure, but Derek Trotter’s one Brit who’s not afraid to dust himself off and start again. “Over the years Del Boy may have presided over many more disasters than most, but the guy refused to throw in the towel and in the end it paid off,” says Steve Leach, CEO of £70m-turnover Bigmouth Media. “Never give up, because behind every successful entrepreneur lies the failures he cut his teeth on.”

4. Be “real”Regardless what you see on The Apprentice, no one likes ruthless, self-serving egomaniacs. “There was a sincerity about Delboy that belied his fly-boy image,” notes Gary Dutton, founder of £100m-turnover manufacturer, Synseal. “Especially when he was with his family. He has a heart of gold with those important to him. That was the underlying pathos of the series.”

5. Don’t matter how pimp your ride is… Dan McGuire, MD of £3.8m-turnover Broadbean Technology, didn’t always drive a Merc. “I used to drive a banged out Ford Escort. In fact, I had useless cars for years.” But like Del with his banged up yellow van, McGuire wasn’t daunted by his crappy motor. “Del Boy knew his products and always managed to do a deal,” he says. “It didn’t matter that he had a three-wheeler parked round the corner.” He continues: “I used to park my car well out the way of clients windows. Mainly so they wouldn’t see it but also in the hope it would get nicked.”

6. Mind your language”Mange tout, Rodney, mange tout!” Be careful to only use jargon that you actually understand, says Syd Nadim, founder of digital marketing agency Clock. “Demystify your business and clients will trust you.”

7. Be careful what you call yourself“Trotter’s Independent Traders has an obvious acronymic problem… TIT,” says Dan Matthews, CEO of Shoreditch-based Point & Fire Media. “Think before you brand. At a company I used to work for we planned to launch a UK-based website called ‘my firm’, until we saw what it looked like when written as a url: ‘myfirm.co.uk’.”

8. Be a wheeler dealerIn business, you need to know when to get in, and more importantly – when to get out. “Delboy refused to get hung-up on particular product lines,” says Bigmouth’s Steve Leach. “If he was selling North Korean Beaujolais, making ten quid a pop, and then got a sniff of some Bulgarian VCRs he could move on for an extra £20, he wouldn’t hesitate to switch. The bottom line is what it’s all about.”

9. Don’t employ plonkers“Dell is always calling Rodney a “plonker” because the pair of them are usually incompetent at whatever task they’re doing,” says Antony Chesworth, MD of ekmPowershop.com. “You need to realise your staff’s abilities and more importantly your own. If someone isn’t competent to do a job, they shouldn’t be doing it.”

10. Think fastGrandad: [talking to the Police] “Rodney’s got a police record!”Del Boy: [quickly] “Yes, er… it’s “Walking on the Moon.”“Del’s got such alacrity of mind,” chuckles Synseal’s Gary Dutton.

That’ll learn you.

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