Alison Clarke to become ‘model' dragon at Prince's Trust event

Alison Clarke who runs ACA Models joins Ian Jeffers and Michelle Hagan from The Prince’s Trust to call on young entrepreneurs to sign up to pitch to her and other business leaders in ‘dragons den’ event – the Prince’s Pitch
Gail Bell

YOUNG entrepreneurs in the early stages of starting a business are poised to pitch for a share of a £5,000 grant being made available from The Prince's Trust organisation.

Among the judging panel at this year's popular event is ACA Models boss, Alison Campbell, who is "excited" at her new role as a 'dragon' at the upcoming Prince's Pitch competition in Belfast

Alison has notched up 27 years of business experience running her successful model agency - but being a Dragon's Den-style judge is something entirely new to her.

"I'm really looking forward to hearing all the pitches from the young people who have entered and I believe already there's quite a few great opportunities for investment," she said.

"The competition is set to be keen so it will be tough deciding on the winning ideas."

Helping her come to a decision will be her own guiding principles, chief of which is attention to detail, along with "proper planning" and good credit control.

"I would say it takes about three years to properly establish a business - it certainly took me that length of time - and you make mistakes and learn along the way," Alison said.

"Running a business is not easy but it is important to own up to your mistakes and sometimes say 'no' - that was the best piece of advice I was ever given by a successful Belfast retailer.

"When he told me that, I thought he was wrong and that it was vital to fight for every bit of business you can get, but I was the one who was wrong.

"Some clients want the earth without the budget to back up their ideas and sometimes they are more trouble than they're worth. So, yes, saying 'no' to the wrong person, the wrong deal, can often be the right decision."

And, although having a logical business head on her shoulders, Alison also believes in a mystical 'sixth sense'.

"That may not be a very sound business attribute but sometimes you just have a 'hunch' about what will work and what won't," she added.

"On those occasions, I would say if everything else adds up, just go with it."

The competition takes place at The Prince's Trust Centre, Weavers Court, on Friday, February 12 and entrants can register their details up until this Friday.

Prince's Pitch is open to unemployed 18-30 year-olds as well as those who have an existing Prince's Trust supported business.


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