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Lessons from this year’s series of The Apprentice

Posted by anna sofat on 11 January 2018

2017’s series of The Apprentice will be remembered for many reasons – not least of all the shock result of Lord Sugar deciding to invest in not one but two businesses – therefore gaining both James and Sarah as his ‘Apprentice’ business partners.

On a personal level, it was great to see four out of the final five candidates this year were women. From the start, the women this year were a strong set of candidates, winning the early tasks and taking their rightful places in the latter stages. There were some strong female characters in the final five, three of whom were already running their own businesses successfully.

The Apprentice is essentially one, very long and very difficult pitch for angel investment. So what lessons can business owners seeking investment learn from this year’s series?

Demonstrate focus

One of the shocks from this series for many was the decision by Lord Sugar to fire Michaela. As the most successful candidate in her current business, having built up a £3 million turnover, Lord Sugar took the decision not to take her through to the final as he couldn’t be confident in her level of focus on their potential new business together. As Michaela had interests in a number of other businesses, he decided it was too much of a risk to partner with her in case her attention was drawn away by those other businesses. If you are seeking investment in your business but have other interests, you will need to demonstrate your focus on the new business. Don’t try to hide any other business interests you have – a quick search on Company’s House will quickly reveal any Directorships you hold/have held. Be honest and have a clear plan mapped out on how you will manage your time.

Be relationship worthy!

On more than one occasion this series, Lord Sugar took the decision to fire candidates simply because he couldn’t see himself working with them. It isn’t about being perfect or even being ‘nice’. It is about showing you are amenable, willing to adapt, and can give as well as take – all key ingredients to any relationship.

One of the comments from Karen Brady when advising Lord Sugar was:  ‘you’re investing in him, not his business’ and this is something that those applying for angel investment need to keep at the forefront of their minds.

Have passion

One of the areas that eventual winner Sarah was criticised for was her apparent lack of risk-taking traits. There’s a fine line between being professional and being seen to be over-cautious. For any investor to be willing to part with their cash, they have to believe you are completely passionate about what you do – enough to have already taken risks yourself to get to your current position.

This year’s Apprentice series was as entertaining as ever and whether you agree with the final result or not, it shows that in the world of angel investing, things are rarely clear cut!

As part of our commitment to helping female entrepreneurs, Addidi launched our female to female angel investment club, Addidi Angels. To find out more about the programme and how we help connect female investors with start-ups and small growth businesses, please click here.