Lord Sugar is one of the most successful entrepreneurs of his time, so there are probably a few lessons that we can learn from the businessman who went from working class lad to multi-millionaire tycoon!
He may not be the most popular man on the planet, but I think that it’s fair to say that he has his head screwed on when it comes to business. Having founded the company Amstrad at just 21 years old and received a knighthood, I think that’s more than most professionals can say!
So what can we learn from the infamous ‘Apprentice’ host?
1) Not everything can be taught
Not everyone has it in them to be a successful entrepreneur, so you can read all the books you like about how to start your own business, but if you don’t have an entrepreneurial mind you will struggle. For Alan it was clear that he was destined to run his own company from a young age, having spotted business ideas since as young as 12 years old and taking on several jobs while he was at school.
2) Start a business in something you know about
Don’t wake up one morning and decide you’re going to start a business in an area that you are vaguely interested in, as you won’t have any credibility. You must have experience in the area in order to succeed in it, whether it be from your career or a hobby of yours. Before you launch head first into a business venture, you must also do you homework and research your market thoroughly to ensure your product doesn’t already exist!
3) Experience trumps qualifications
Lord Sugar describes himself as a commercial person rather than an academic, so therefore has no regrets about not going to University and doesn’t believe it would have made any difference to where he is now. Although there’s nothing wrong with wanting to further your education and it can open a lot of doors in your career, Alan is living proof that you can get by just fine without a degree and sometimes life experience is more valuable.
4) You must take a proactive approach
Want something? Go get it! You must be driven and have a hunger to succeed, as this will provide you with the necessary motivation to go to all means necessary to meet your goals. Know what you want to achieve, make a plan about how you intend on going about it and then stick to it. A level of focus and forward thinking needs to be adopted, so have a positive attitude and create your own opportunities.
5) Respect is more important than likeability
To be a good leader you don’t necessarily have the be the most popular person in the office, but you do need to have the respect from your colleagues and business associates. In order to gain respect you must show others respect, stick to your guns and inspire.
6) Everything is open to negotiation
Never accept the first offer. Just about everything is negotiable and with a bit of haggling, you will nearly always get a better price than the initial figure. You just need to stick to your guns and negotiate hard.
7) Don’t be naive
Don’t be too quick to trust, especially in the early days of your business. People will try to sell you things that you don’t need, which you really can’t afford when money is tight and it could even be the breaking point for you business. Don’t get ripped off. All of your budget and time should be used for winning customers in the first few months.
8) Never give up
You have to be prepared for set backs when you enter business. There will be times when you feel like things aren’t going exactly to plan, but if you believe in your business, it’s worth sticking to! Stay focused and take action to get things going. You can’t expect to become an overnight success, so don’t try to run before you can walk. True success takes time and hard work.
9) Have a unique selling point and know your product inside out
Your product has to stand out on the market or people will just go elsewhere. Be creative and find a unique selling point that you can market you product based on and if you can’t think of a niche, just make sure your product is better than others. Make sure you know your product inside out, so that you are qualified to answer any questions your customers have and can spin your pitch for individuals’ needs.
10) Hook customers with a great price
From experience Lord Sugar has learnt that cutting prices generates sales. So if you start off by offering a product at a lower price, you can reel the customers in and then sell them the benefits of your more advanced and slightly more expensive model. Alan says that 9 out of 10 will then go to buy more expensive model.