The Apprentice – Hired or Fired?

I sat watching the penultimate episode of The Apprentice on BBC1 last Wednesday. Ah Lord Sugar, how I enjoy watching you working things over in your mind as you battle internally with the decision of money-making idea versus person you can work with.

Lets face it, the doctor has it in the bag. It’s just a process now, though I shall still watch with baited breath tonight until he says those magic words “You’re hired” (in truth I get more of a thrill from the “You’re fired” part trying to shout at the TV loud enough that the man or woman was a total idiot, rarely do I disagree with Lord Sugar).

Last week’s episode challenged my business mind. One young entrepreneur claimed to have a five million turnover on her business, and when challenged on how she reached this figure, she stated “It was the first number that came into my head”.

It’s got me thinking…..

How many businesses out there market the first thing that comes into their head or something they wish was true or perhaps something they think their clients may want to hear? I know of many children’s entertainers who have websites which could rival Walt Disney on the imagination stakes. I am proud to say the Tiny Acorns website is factual, there is nothing on there that is untrue, embellished or copied from elsewhere! Why? Because I am firstly the world worst liar, I can never remember the right story and get confused so it’s easier to stick with the truth. Secondly I firmly believe I have been successful in what I do because I am honest, I trust everyone and encourage people to trust me.

I see so many websites and meet so many business people who claim to be something or know something they in fact have no knowledge of. I find this disturbing on two levels, firstly to own an ethical, professional business it must have strong foundations. To build a business on lies is like playing baseball in a greenhouse – before long your own actions will smash everything around you. Secondly to feel the need to lie really does imply you feel you are not good enough on what you truly are….. yourself. To survive in any business you must believe in yourself, your product and your business; to lie implies you do not believe in one or more of (or perhaps any of!) these fundamentals. Which in turn should make you question why you are in fact marketing yourself at all.

In this tough economic climate and in the children’s entertainment business, we are selling ourselves, we are asking to be the lucky person our clients choose to pay to entertain their children. They are paying us based on the image they see on the website, the image they are presented with on first meeting and the environment into which we welcome them. We foster a relationship with our clients at perhaps their most vulnerable time with a new baby; be it first, second or seventh time round or a toddler keeping them on their toes. We welcome them into our world and hope they let us share a small piece of theirs for a short time every week. What better way to market yourself than by painting a true, realistic picture of who you are and what you do…….if you have to make something up to make people join you then think more about the flaws this highlights in both you as a person and your business as a product.

My advice to clients is to base their decisions on the right class for their child by the interview process they might put any new friend, children’s entertainer or even potential employee through. You may not be Lord Sugar but never hesitate to point that finger and say “You’re fired” when anyone falls short of the mark!