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Budding entrepreneur? 5 lessons The Apprentice has taught us so far

by Tom Barter - 30th October 2014

Career Advice

Budding entrepreneur? 5 lessons The Apprentice has taught us so far

Last night we saw another episode of The UK Version of The Apprentice. The series is now in full swing and has already seen multiple causalities. However what can we learn from those who have already had the finger pointed at them followed by the dreaded ‘ YOU’RE FIRED!!’.   

Lesson 1 – If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to take any task by the horns and dive right in.

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘If you wait for the perfect opportunity you will be waiting for a lifetime’. It’s a phrase that most of the candidates have apparently never heard. But the importance of jumping in and taking charge is a significant quality respected by Lord Sugar and an invaluable quality in running your own business. However, a word of caution, if you are completely clueless then surround yourself by a select few who do have knowledge and then become a vision directioneer, guiding your business through informed decisions.  Richard Branson is an expert at this piece.

Lesson 2 – believe in your product.

In the wearable tech task a contestant was asked to pitch a product which he clearly didn’t believe in. Shock horror the pitch was shambolic and unsurprisingly failed to generate any sale. If you don’t have faith in your product, then how are you going to portray its significance to the market and to potential investors?

Long before you sell your product to customers you will have to sell yourself, your idea, & your business to investors, employees and corporate partners. If you don’t believe what you are trying to sell, all of the above will see right through it and not buy into your business.

 Lesson 3– How to manage people

To draw similarities between The Apprentice and a premier sports team is not so farfetched. The best teams have the best managers who are capable of managing all the egos while getting them to pull together in the same direction. Contrast Alex Ferguson with Harry Redknapp (in his current form at QPR). If you get your man management wrong you can quite literally see your team or business be ripped apart from you in front of your eyes. As we have already seen this series, a team with too many voices can lead to a bungled final product, destined to leave you back in the boardroom.

Lesson 4 – Have a game plan: Pricing & Margins

We saw in the task of understanding margins that once you have decided on a game plan, selected your price points for highest and lowest margins, you must then ensure you stick to them. After all, you have given careful consideration to the value of your product, and the margins your business can operate at. The pricing list is designed to give your negotiations the slick manoeuvrability to allow for a stronger negotiating package. Fail to stick to your pricing and at best, you make minimal profit, with bleaker outcomes for those who continue to ignore their own game plan.

Lesson 5 – Know when to call it quits

The best business leaders are the ones which are truly passionate about the cause, and if you start doubting yourself it’s time to stop and evaluate the situation. Sometimes it’s just that you have had a hard day, you’ll come back strong tomorrow. However if that doubt is more than a niggle then knowing when to get out is crucial. We saw a classic example in last weeks episode with a contestant effectively withdrawing from the process. Later she claimed this was the correct decision as she instinctively knew that The Apprentice wasn’t for her. Brave? Yes. Correct Decision? Absolutely.

So there we have it, among the hissy fits, Del boy antics and laughable products (my personal favourite being solar panel shoulder pads) we’ve been given an insight into a few of the business attributes Lord Sugar holds key to success. The apprentice rolls on and I’m sure we will learn more basic business lessons at the expense of the contestants.

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