I am a big fan of the apprentice. Ever since I started my own business back in 2005 I have been attracted by any TV programme or any article about running a business. And so again in 2014 I started to watch the latest series.
I have already written about the apprentice and given my opinion on the mixed suitability of the winners. And this year I feel compelled to do so again but for very different reasons.
I read one of Viz Magazine's hilarious letters where the writer said they felt sorry for Lord Sugar because he advertises a business partnership worth £250,000 and the only applicants he gets are a bunch of idiots. Whilst both funny and true I am understanding of the fact that the BBC needs some characters on the show to ensure its entertainment value.
And this year was no disappointment in that category. There was the "wide boy" who did nothing but irritate the other candidates and make diastrous decisions with a completely unmerited amount of self-confidence. There were quite a few who were able to blow their own trumpets to an embarassing extent but whose skills and abilities were lacking in so many ways. And then there were a few credible candidates.
From very early on, there was a clear favourite and her name was Roisin. She was rarely drawn into the petty squabbles and childish arguments which seem to adorn this series. She also frequently made sound decisions and displayed a high degree of business acumen.
However, she had a disappontingly poor business plan. The experts who examined it showed so many holes not just in the idea bit also in the disastrous accounting (and she was a trained accountant). So no matter how well she had done earlier on in the series, she was never going to win.
This is the frustration of the BBC's apprentice. After twelve weeks and twelve gruelling tasks, much of what has been achieved is irrelevant.
Lord Sugar once again had pound signs in his eyes when he read the business plan for a digital marketing agency. And rightly so. Such firms can earn a fortune. But the business they are in is infested with sharks.
I am sure many of you, if you run a small business, have had many phone calls from companies promising to get you to page 1 of Google. Most of my customers have and a few of them have even paid some of these companies. Here is the grand total of my customers who have had success with such companies:
Yes that is right. Not one of these agencies has ever done anything for anyone I know except take money from them. Their specialised skill is to employ very talented salesmen who will try and seduce you making claims and promises that they cannot nor do they intend to keep.
If one of you out there has had success with such a company I would be very interested to hear your story. All I can say is that I have only come across slick salesmen with nothing to back up their promises.
Search Engine Optimisation is important for modern day businesses but this is done through sheer hard work and determination and above all, integrity. Yes you can trick Google for a short time, but for long term success, the hard way and the right way is the best.