Dragons' Den star, CEO of private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw and entrepreneur James Caan offers top tips on the business issues that all small firm owners must get right.

"People are generally very poorly prepared when they bring an opportunity across. I would advise anybody to think it through very carefully: get your numbers, get your proposition, get your unique selling points, don't waffle, deliver a very concise proposition very clearly and very effectively if you want to be taken seriously."

Get the right advice:
"The biggest mistake people tend to make is that they're over-optimistic and unrealistic and they don't think through the challenges clearly enough. They tend to listen to the wrong people. If you have a good proposition and you go to family and friends, most of them are going to say it's a great idea. But they're not paying for it so you need to do much wider due diligence. The other factor is pricing. What's the price point it's going to be sold at? Everything works at a price."

Raising revenue:
"The single biggest challenge in starting a business today is raising capital. Funnily enough, the smaller the amount the harder it is to raise money."

Choosing your staff:

"A lot of people think having an idea is a business but it takes more than one person to build a business. A lot of people are inadequately resourced from a team perspective. There are six or seven key components in a business - whether it's financial, operational, sales, IT, back office, distribution or logistics - and you can't be good at everything."

Buying from an administrator:
The only blot on Caan's impressive copybook is the failure of sandwich firm Benjys, which Hamilton Bradshaw purchased from administrator Deloitte in 2006.

"I bought the business too quickly. It was my first experience of buying a business from the administrator. I got a call on the Monday, met the management team on the Tuesday, the administrator on the Wednesday, the bank on the Thursday and I made an offer on the Friday. Deals don't happen that quickly.

"Within six months we realised just how complicated and broken the business was. When you buy from an administrator you get a six-month licence to trade and at the end of the six months we literally handed it back.

"The lessons I learned were not to buy businesses of that scale that quickly and if you've made a mistake put your hands up very quickly and accept that you've made a mistake. Had I tried to be a hero and continued to run the business I probably would have lost a fortune."