Dr Leah Totton wins the 9th series of The Apprentice and receives a cash injection of £250,000 for a 50:50 business alongside Lord Alan Sugar.
We’ve all been glued to the TV for 12 weeks now and last night the winner of The Apprentice 2013 was announced as Dr Leah Totton. I know a lot of people will say this (as they did with me) but I had my eye on her since the very first week! I am sure you will ask why - well read on.
I had my eye on Dr Totton as when the candidate profiles went to press the week prior to TV I was intrigued to see a fellow scientist enter the grueling business process. I knew how tough it was for me so I wanted to see how well Leah would perform and being a Medical Doctor I was even more fascinated to find out. Curiosity to one side, like most offices up and down the country we ran an office sweepstake here at HRS and I had picked Leah as my candidate to back.
So you can imagine how delighted I was when I was sat in the studios of You're Hired to find out Leah had been crowned as the winner. Leah was an exceptional candidate throughout the process and a well deserved winner in my opinion. Somebody I am happy to step down as the winner of the 2012 show and pass the prestigious baton over to.
You could not make this up - an Apprentice Winner picks at random the next Apprentice Winner!
I am really looking forward to seeing another Scientist embarking on a career in the commercial sector. Dr Leah plans to offer a variety of skin treatments at a chain of her own clinics and hopes to raise the standards of the beauty industry with her medical credentials. I appreciate her aspirations, as similarly I hope that through my own ambitions I can make a change to the landscape of science recruitment and make a positive difference to the industry.
So what advice can I give to Leah? And what advice can I give to anybody else thinking about setting up their own company?
1. Business Planning
Do you have an idea for a business and think there is a market for it? Have you invented a product you think people will want to buy? When starting a business, this is only the start of things you will need to consider. So what advice can I offer?
It’s really important to research your market and identify potential customers. Why not talk to them and find out if there is a need for your idea? Developing and planning your product or service with real people is very important. These people may well be your future customer base, so keep doing this until you are sure there is a demand for it. It’s also very important to find partners and suppliers you think you could work with to develop and sell your idea. Setting up your business doesn’t happen over night, it can be a lengthy process. So make sure you consider and understand which legal structure is right for you. Finally, the big one – get funding! There are many different sources of business finance, from bank loans to government-backed schemes. Going on The Apprentice is not an option for everyone, so make sure you explore your options and do your research!
And write a business plan! If you are somebody who comes up with ideas every day - then put it in to a detailed business plan focusing on key areas including the important who, what, where, why and how (think about risks, costs, financial projections, who will help you to get there etc). You will be surprised when you start writing it all down how much you realise you don't know, need to know and also how realistic what you want to do actually is. Don't think about asking for investment without a well thought about business plan or you may have a character like Claude Littner coming down on you like a ton of bricks (deservedly).
2. Building the business
I speak from experience when I say building and establishing a new business is not an easy task; it takes great deal of commitment, drive and dedication, to not only survive but to stand out in a very competitive market place. Are you prepared to spend most hours of every day, and pretty much every day of the week to make your business plan become a reality? In the past 12 months I have had to make sacrifices all of which I would do again in a heart beat if I went back in time. This includes ending my wrestling career which I did part time as a hobby but it was a logical and reasonable sacrifice to make. My advice is be prepared to make sacrifices as if you are not committed to putting every ounce of your heart and soul in to the company then it may fail to launch. If my first year of HRS went exactly as my business plan said I would be laughing right now. The truth is hiccups will happen on the way, but it is how you deal with them that counts. I don't look at things as problems, I see them as challenges. Something which excites as I want to overcome it.
3. Advice to Leah
Do not change the person that you are. From watching Leah on The Apprentice she came across as a very methodical, dedicated and ultra passionate professional - all the things which I know will make her new business a success. Some people may have commented to say she came across as cold at times (I never said this for the record) - but trust me if I need to see a Doctor I would rather them come across as being some what clinical in their manner then like Louie Spence!
When working with your new business partner continue to be articulate, focused and passionate about raising the standards in your industry. Lord Sugar invests in people who care, commit and people who want to make it happen. Lord Sugar has an excellent eye for detail, can identify risks quicker then I have ever seen and will speak open and honestly about current topics and the journey ahead. This for me is refreshing and makes our company Hyper Recruitment Solutions fast paced and is a key reason why we are expanding quicker then we first excepted.
You may be knowledgeable about your sector as I am with mine (science recruitment) but trust me there is no such thing as trying to pull the wool over your business partner's eyes. Lord Sugar is the real deal and deserves the respect he has spent his entire career building up. I am happy to justify saying this as working with him over the last year I cannot believe how much he knows about my sector after never working directly in the services industry. An open and honest relationship will build a successful business.
I am living proof that if you set out to achieve your ambitions, with hard work, commitment and long hours, they really can become a reality. So my advice to anyone who is thinking about setting up a new business, is to follow your passions, my advice above, and you will no doubt reach your goal. With this said there are still many more long days of hard work ahead for us before we make Hyper Recruitment Solutions the successful business that all of us in the company aim for it to become one day. I have loved every minute of the first year of my company.
I can honestly say, after hearing the words “You’re hired” your life changes! I wish Leah the very best of luck with her new company and its development. And I am here for you when you need to recruit for your future workforce ;)