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I cringe while watching, but I can’t stay away from The Apprentice. I’ve watched every episode. But I sometimes wonder if the candidates have seen the programme before. Every series the same mistakes come up over and over again. Screaming at the TV has not proved to be an effective method for imparting my knowledge, so I’ve written this blog post instead.

Please don’t make these top 3 Apprentice mistakes in your business.

#1 Missing the lunch time crowd

‘We mustn’t miss the lunchtime rush’….exclaims every team leader on the food task ever.

Every. Single. Series. They know they need to get the food made and out onto the street before bellies start rumbling at 11.30. But just as the footfall outside Pret hits maximum volume….cut back to a shot of the kitchen, as too many cooks spend far too long perfecting a sandwich while I yell “you are not Gordon Ramsey” at the TV.

The lesson for us: Connect with your starving crowd.

Your product/service solves a problem. When is your ideal client most hungry for this solution? When are they experiencing the most pain with that problem you could solve? This is the easiest time to sell. Find it. Use it. Don’t spend so long pratting about, perfecting your offering that you miss this opportunity.

#2 Ignoring the market research

Familiar with this scenario? Team leader falls in love with a concept. Sends sub-team to pitch idea to focus group, who slate it. Sub-team feedback response to team leader. Team leader carries on regardless.

Sometimes this can work out. Sometimes the focus group are not representative of the target market. Sometimes the small sample size provides unreliable results. But sometimes they have a valid point, and the idea is actually a massive pile of stinky pants.

The lesson for us: There is always a lesson to be learned from market research.

Maybe you realise your focus group is not a great sample. Ask yourself how that happened, and if you need to try another focus group. Maybe the central idea is sound, but there are some tweaks and adjustments that can be made as a result of feedback. Maybe the idea is brilliant but your pitch sucks. If you’ve invested the time in market research, invest a little longer squeezing every last drop of learning out of it.

#3 Not calculating costings

In series 5, Week 4 of The Apprentice (UK), Team Empire accidentally spent £700 on sandalwood fragrance. It is the most notorious costing error seen on the show, but it is certainly not the only one ever made.

The lesson for us: Revenue is not the same as profit.

It’s no good coming up with a fabulous product or service and slapping a price on it if you’ve no idea what profit you will make from each unit sold. I try to keep this in mind when suffering from acute comparisonitis. A reported business income is not the same as that entrepreneur’s take home pay.

Just for giggles, I’ll leave you with the look of horror on Team Empire’s faces as Nick drops a £700 bombshell on their unsuspecting heads.

Warning: strong language.

In the comments below, or over on the Facebook page, share your favourite Apprentice moments and/or Apprentice-inspired blog posts.



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