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Amanda Augustine, Career Advice Expert – TopCV
The big one! Business plans at the ready as the candidates prepared for a grilling from friends of Lord Sugar and four business heavyweights. From how not to walk into an interview, to how past behaviour can come back to haunt you, there were a number of learnings from this week’s episode. Present yourself professionally Well, Camilla certainly gave us a great lesson in how not to charm your interviewer. Aside from patchy business planning, her biggest mistake was greeting Claude with a “yoohoo”. She immediately assumed their relationship was informal, a huge mistake. Ideally, walk in, say hello and extend your hand for a shake. Of course, this didn’t quite go to plan for Daniel, but at least he side-stepped saying anything other than hello. Keep a lid on your nerves and excitement Interviews are tough, and they can, of course, be emotional and draining experiences. But interviewees must be able to keep their emotions in check. Unfortunately, Khadija struggled to do this. Her problem was that she took the grilling too personally and as a result, was visibly upset.
While it can work in your favour to show your ‘human side’, as Linda put it, tears are not required – or welcomed – in the interview room.Know the facts You’re going to get grilled in an interview – you have given someone a CV or in this case, a business plan, so expect them to pull it apart. For this reason, you need to know your plan or CV inside out. Your understanding of your own product or service should be watertight and you must, must, must be able to justify everything you have put down in writing. During the interviews it became clear very quickly who was fudging their way through and who really knew their stuff. Don’t do yourself an injustice like Sabrina and Sian by failing to fully do your homework. Oh, and don’t forget to include crucial information – like Camilla who omitted a whole £20,000 from her business plan. Don’t lie!
Let’s face it, Daniel pretty much cost himself the opportunity by proving himself to be a “blagger” at best and, in Claude’s words, “bloody untrustworthy” at worst.He lied on his Amazon product page and then lied again when caught out. Lying your way through an interview is rarely going to go well and, if you do land the job this way, you may not be employed for very long. Although Lord Sugar was unconvinced by Daniel’s business concept, he was ultimately fired because Lord Sugar couldn’t invest in him as a person. As with any relationship, the one you build during an interview won’t last long without trust.
Paul Rowlett, CEO/Founder – EverythingBranded.co.uk
So here we are at the interview stage: a Spanish Inquisition before the Digit of Doom. This was true to form, namely the spectacle of age and experience flattening the tots. Inevitably, all the bright young sparks were reduced to tears as their dreams were shredded in front of them. Lesson: your business plan is not a flight of fancy created for your own personal delight. It is a meticulously prepared document upon which your future, success and credibility rest. It is the common language clarifying your objectives to your financier, advisers and team. As per, we had some absolute turkeys. Khadija decided she would increase her annual turnover from £72k to £1.5m, as well as take London by storm and win the cleaning contract for the Shard. Typically for Khadija, she ended up having a good slanging match with Jenny over the detail.
Generally knowing yourself comes with age, and Khadija will mellow. She is a lively, clever and passionate candidate and will do well in life despite being eliminated.Sabrina identified herself yet again as the most gracious of the group. Her age and inexperience led to some howlers, such as over-promising and under-delivering to clients and wanting take take on America at the age of 22, with no collateral. Although eliminated, she emerged as genuine and enthusiastic with a promising future. Sian, although a finalist, presented an unworkable plan, predicated on spending the entire £250k winnings on marketing/gifting. Lesson: don’t spend all your money on marketing when you have nothing in place to manufacture product. Sex-mad Camilla was onto a good idea with her nut milk, produced in a kitchen her father had built for her. With the intention to use her £250k to employ family members she was set on keeping production tightly in-house. Despite this dubious approach, far more dubious were her marketing boards, which looked more suited to a sleazier setting. Everyone agreed she had ‘crossed the line,’ although Camilla would only put her hand up to ‘cheeky’ and ‘fun’, repeatedly shooting herself in the foot until Lord Sugar was forced to declare: “Camilla, I don’t think you have quite grasped the idea that I know what I’m talking about”.
Lesson: if everyone is telling you you’ve got it wrong you have probably got it wrong. She made it to the final with Sian as the lowest liability choice.Finally, Daniel, who ‘doesn’t let the truth get in the way of reality’ Mr B/S. As a salesman, he was a silver tongued seducer. As a businessman, Daniel showed good strategies and instincts, not least by producing a product for 11p with a retail price of £1.40. If only he could have left it at that. His killer instincts led him over the edge into the lure of sharp practice. His banner on Amazon grossly exaggerated his sales, his product description was misleading/untrue, and he made no reference to any competitors. Claude told him he was ‘bloody untrustworthy’, which was the factor that sealed his fate. If you are dishonest and oversell, you will be found out and your reputation will never recover. Bring on the Final next Sunday, for ’tis pantomime season. I am predicting an easy win for Sian, who is stand out the most professional and promising candidate but who knows?
Stacey MacNaught, Content Marketing ConsultantI look forward to the interviews every single year. And it didn’t disappoint in terms of the entertainment factor this year either. Did the right two progress to the final? I’m not sure. I think Camilla’s product is the strongest (but she was one of the weaker final five candidates, I think). On the other hand I think Sian was the strongest of the five remaining candidates but her business plan needs some serious rethinking. Daniel was exposed as a blagger throughout the interview process. It amazes me that he had not anticipated that his Amazon page would be pulled to pieces and his blatant flouting of advertising standards regular would be addressed. The product lacks credibility and despite his strong performance throughout many of the tasks, he actually demonstrated a real lack of personal credibility as well. That was truly a shame.
Khadija’s business plan really was ludicrous. To think she could grow a £72k turnover business to in excess of £1 million in year 1 wasn’t just ambitious – it was on another planet.And the fact she was working on assumptions of a 30% profit margin where the average for a large cleaning company is 5% highlighted a real lack of commercial research. Sabrina was one of the stronger candidates left as well, though I think her business plan was weak and the offering not very exciting. On that basis, I see why the final two are indeed the final two. But I couldn’t call a winner. I think Sian is the stronger business person, but Camila has a better product (hopefully she’ll tone down the sexualised marketing for final week, eh?).
Martin Talbot, Group Director – Total Jobs
In last night’s episode, Sian proved that some of the most productive skills you can have in the workplace are common sense and passion.Sian’s business plan was, generally, well-received and the biggest factor in that was Sian herself. She came across as professional, level-headed and passionate, and stood head and shoulders above the other candidates. Which candidate stood out in a bad way? One of the most important characteristics in any professional setting is accountability. Every time Daniel was questioned on the more dubious aspects of his business plan, he struggled to own up to his mistakes, which resulted in his firing. Learning how to brand and sell yourself is key and the first step to doing it well is by being clear, concise and honest. What lessons and takeaways can budding entrepreneurs and small business owners take from this episode?
Yesterday’s episode was a reminder that success comes from an intersection of equally important personality traits, rather than one single skill.There’s no need to be perfect at everything, but ensuring you have a breadth of skills that you can call on when needed will set any budding entrepreneur in good stead for the future.
Linda Davies Carr, Business Turnaround Coach – TheMasterFixer.comI love interview week. It’s an opportunity for us to get under the skin of their businesses, stress test their plans and ideas and to see whether it’s all bravado and great spin. The “cry club” didn’t disappoint. And whilst I appreciate that clearly there’s great editing for maximum impact and the TV audience, it was a great episode with an expected result. Still standing at the end were Sian with her pricey and fashionable swimwear to wealthy students, and would-be nut milk mogul Camilla.
So what went wrong? Whilst young and ambitious and extremely energetic, Sabrina makes the classic error of over-promising and under-delivering on a regular basis.Whilst her business is interesting and embraces the sense of fun, it is a services model which relies heavily on her personality. It is not scalable. Daniel has proven he is great with customers and gifted with building relationships and selling, but over-exaggeration and over-stating of results meant he was well and truly caught out!
He lied in his number, lacked substance and was ripped to shreds. He really did come across as over-confident, edging on arrogant. The takeaway for Daniel was STOP blagging.I thought Khadija was credible but her business case didn’t stand up to robust scrutiny. Recognising she would rather be ambitious than mediocre is engaging, but her inability to read the room meant her passion was misread as aggressive. Whilst both finalists received criticism, I thought Camilla was due to be fired for her inappropriate branding. The sassy and fun element had been taken too far and crossed the line to be highly sexualised. Combined with Sian’s over-priced swimwear, both business ideas are on trend, young and appeal to the young and current market. Whether either of these business ideas have staying power is up for debate. The takeaways from this week are:
- Build a business that can be scaled up.
- Build a robust and honest business plan with credible claims and accurate numbers.
- Always under-promise and over-deliver.
- Never ever lie – you will be caught out!
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