Common Business Mistakes from The Apprentice

With the sixth series of The Apprentice starting next week, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has identified the common mistakes made by candidates in their weekly tasks and how they are often replicated by businesses on a larger scale. Lessons can be learnt though to ensure that companies remain ‘in the boardroom’.

  • Research your market thoroughlyPaul Callaghan (series 3) tries to sell mass-produced English Cheese in a French local food market.

    It is easy to presume that you know your market. Do research into what your potential market actually wants and continue to regularly survey so that you are not missing any other opportunities.

  • Don’t over order stockSyed Ahmed (series 2) orders 100 chickens to make 100 pizzas

    One of the repercussions of the recession was de-stocking. This is good financial management and businesses should make sure that they only order what they need.

  • Check prices on a regular basisYasmina Siadatan (series 5) confuses cedarwood and the more expensive sandalwood and blows the budget

    Check and double check costs in order to avoid mistakes which will affect your margins. An accountant can help you keep an eye on the details.

  • Keep control of ordersLucinda Ledgerwood (series 4) gives the wrong washing back to customers as well as losing items

    An unsatisfied customer can have a disastrous affect on your business. Make sure that you know what is happening with an order and keep the customer updated if there are problems.

  • Don’t overprice yourselfLindi Mngaza (series 4) pitches for a potential laundry contract quoting £4999. The customer usually pays £200

    Although cheapest is not always best, make sure that you have an idea of what the ‘going rate’ is. An over inflated price will not help win new business.

  • Don’t get blinded by an ideaRory Laing (series 3) comes up with the idea of a ‘pooch pouch’ which is widely derided but still goes ahead with the product

    Listen to others and take advice. Just because you think that something is a fantastic idea or product does not mean that others do. Sometimes it is easy to carry on with a project when, in reality, it should be stopped as soon as possible.

Clive Lewis, Head of Enterprise at ICAEW, commented:

“All too often common mistakes are made by businesses that are often very eager and do not plan ahead. The main advice I would give is that errors are inevitable but you should try and rectify the situation as quickly as you can so that events do not snowball and you end up ‘being fired.’”

The new series of The Apprentice begins on BBC 1 at 9pm on Wednesday 6th October.

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