This years series of The Apprentice kicked off with the teams starting a cleaning business. They were given £200 "walking about money" and sent off to buy/hire their materials from a van provided by Sir Alan. Lacking in imagination both teams went straight for the power washers and decided to start car cleaning businesses. Then the boys had the bright idea of starting a shoe shine business as well.
The boys managed to remain relatively frugal, using up only £100 or so of their start-up capital, whilst the girls celebrated coming in just under budget – it almost seemed like they thought £200 was a target, not a maximum. It does however provide the first business lesson from the 2009 series of The Apprentice:
- when starting a business, keep your costs as low as possible as every penny you spend has to be earned back before you start making a profit.
It didn’t stop there however, as all the time taken carefully spending their budget meant they’d missed an hour and half of the time during which they were allowed to trade. Which is business lesson two:
- there is an opportunity cost associated with time spent on start-up activities. If you spend too long getting setup you’ll miss opportunities to trade.
Next the girls tried to negotiate a £300 payment to clean three cars, fair enough they were stretch Hummers, but that’s still quite a steep price. Naturally the "customer" wasn’t having it, explaining that they usually paid £60. The girls went on to argue with him, telling him it was "impossible", their third mistake:
- arguing with a customer. The customer isn’t always right and please don’t believe those who claim "the customer is always right", it’s simply not true. That said you still shouldn’t be arguing with them as it will make the current situation worse and any future relationship difficult.
Not to be left out the boys made their own mistakes and their project manager Howard was responsible for what in my opinion was the worst mistakes of the entire show – he shut down their shoe shine stall after an hour, having taken £60+ to go and help out the other sub-team who had only managed to wash one car (badly), making them £16.
- don’t shut down a successful business to rescue a failing one. Don’t do it, if you find something that works do more of it, if something fails, learn what you can and move on.
In the end the boys managed to win, not through their own efforts, but because the girls just couldn’t make up for their initial overspend.Email This Post