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Who’s going to fill the dragon sized hole left by Theo Paphitis? That’s the question doing the rounds at the moment.

Step forward Simon Dolan, the Sunday Times’ Rich List regular who has been touted as a “serious contender” to fill the hole and take to the Dragons’ bench.

Mr Dolan is a self-made man who left school without qualifications and opted out of the oft-treaded university path. Refusing to see the university issue as a barrier to success he quickly established a name for himself by doing accounts and tax returns for small businesses.

From these humble freelance beginnings Simon Dolan established SJD Accountancy – now a top 100UK accountancy firm.

What was the secret to his success? It seems to be his impulse for refusing to accept wisdom. He rattled up the accounts industry and broke the traditional management norms. He hired people on instinct and for their special spark and was among one of the first accountancy practices to offer a money back guarantee.

More recently he’s been keeping up the ‘do-things-differently’ theme and has made a name for himself as the ‘Twitter Dragon’. This has come after offering million pound capital investment packages to start-ups over Twitter.

There’s no catch: you just have to pitch your business idea to Mr Dolan in 140 characters or less. Catch his eye and you could land yourself big capital investment, as Rachel Lowe managed.


But what relevance does the Simon Dolan story have for professionals and professional services firms?

His story tells us one important thing: adding a dose of entrepreneurial panache into the professional mix can result in the creative explosion needed for real business success.

In this modern age of innovation, gizmos, gadgets, apps and tools, those seeking business success need to adopt the innovative and risk-ready thinking of people like Simon Dolan.  Not easy for the professional services… people trained from school to be risk-averse, detail-focused individuals.

But let’s look at the industry… what’s it telling us?  It is shouting from the rooftops that there are more opportunities than ever before for firms to think creatively and innovatively.  With virtual practices springing up all over the ‘Twitter-sphere’, alternative business structures and fee arrangements, online professional services, as well as supermarkets cashing in on the act the days of simply be an expert in your field are over.  Clients clearly seek more and those brave enough to provide it… dare we say it… to anticipate it… will shape the future of professional services.


Simon Dolan is the success story that has set the template for future practice. It’s a matter of cutting yourself out as something different being the one to make the exciting judgement call and [shock horror] take the entrepreneurial risk.