Nowadays I invest primarily in people who want to do what I did - become their own boss. I'm a firm believer that if you are prepared to put the effort in, there is no reason why you can't successfully run your own business... Technology has since come on leaps and bounds, which means you can access data and generate leads like never before. And the advent of social media means that building a brand and marketing yourself has become that little bit easier.
For many, January marks the first month of a fresh start and it is the ideal time to decide what we want to get out of the year ahead by taking on new challenges. Whether it's making the decision to get and stay fit, or taking on a new hobby you've always planned on doing, there's always something new to try.
With almost three quarters of British adults unable to remember some or all of the gifts they were bought last Christmas, I am joining CARE International UK's campaign to stop people squandering their hard earned cash on last minute throw away buys. Rather than the usual deluge of socks, soap and chocolate we're urging people to consider a lasting and memorable gift idea by giving vouchers for the micro-lending charity site, www.lendwithcare.org. The site enables people in the UK to lend small sums of money (from £15) to poor entrepreneurs in developing countries, helping them start or expand their small business, feed their families and send their children to school.
It Is hard when you find something you love so much and to know that from the moment you leave the Strictly bubble, it will never be like that again. But business has taught me nothing if not pragmatism and there is no point wallowing and wondering because some things in life you just can't change and you certainly can't go back.
Having taken part in Dragon's Den this series and working closely with UK Trade and Investment, I'm now even more aware of the importance of funding and supporting the great ideas of future business leaders. What's particularly close to my heart is nurturing and growing the ideas of young people domestically and into international markets.
I experienced first-hand the impact of poverty during my own childhood when my father was made bankrupt and the bailiffs came calling, and I wouldn't wish that situation on any child. At the moment, we are in danger of creating a generation of children living in a vicious circle of hardship and disadvantage, growing up in communities reeling from the double hit of the recession and public sector cuts... I am pledging to give more at a time when need has never been higher, and I'm urging everyone else to do the same.
The Dragons, Lord Sugar and almost anyone else who might be thinking of putting money into your venture make great sway about the importance of a business plan, two words which strike fear in the heart of many potential entrepreneurs. A business plan is vital, without one your business may just meander aimlessly, but it certainly does not have to be complicated.
Starting your own business is a personal journey you take that makes you question who you are and what you are doing it for. We all question out decisions and tend to overthink our intentions, but I believe that if you follow these five mantras, you can achieve great things for you and your business.