Five business lessons from The Apprentice 2018 final by an entrepreneur who judged the winning pitch

Five business lessons from The Apprentice 2018 final by an entrepreneur who judged the winning pitch
Rosie Davies-Smith
Rosie Davies-SmithFounderPR Dispatch

Posted: Mon 17th Dec 2018

You may have spotted Rosie Davies-Smith, Enterprise Nation member, founder of PR Dispatch and finalist for Female Start-up of the Year, during the final of The Apprentice as she was one of the judges. She shares the business lessons.

The Apprentice has been a hot topic of conversation in the office for the past 11 weeks even though we all knew who the final two were even before the first episode aired.

In June, I was contacted to be on the final panel of experts for the City Hall final.

Day to day, we work with fashion brands through businesses LFA and PR Dispatch so I was asked to challenge Sian's final pitch.

Thanks to a non-disclosure we kept the final two between our four walls.

For me Sian stood out as a front runner early on but at City Hall Camilla's product was much better received so it was a pleasant shock to see Sian win.

![Rosie Davies-Smith from PR Dispatch during The Apprentice 2018 final at City Hall]( Apprentice 2.jpg)

The final saw Sian and Camilla choose their teams from their past candidates. They were tasked to create a product, brand, digital screen (gif) and a TV ad. It was swimwear in a saturated market verses nut milk that needed to show scalability.

Here are the five lessons we learnt from the night.

Lesson one: Get people on board with your idea

During the initial team briefing both Sian and Camilla failed to communicate their brand and ideas comprehensibly leaving the teams unclear and confused.

Camilla showcased her nut milk brand very briefly without any clarification of her brand values. Even though Sian showed her product to her team, she clearly emphasised the swimwear being luxury and reversible but didn't show how important this feature is as a unique selling point.

The lesson is that although you might have the idea and vision clear in your own mind, if you can't communicate it concisely to your team it will affect execution and moral.

Both should have made clear briefs with examples so that no wires were crossed, and ensured that everyone was on the same page before parting.

Lesson two: Know your market and customers inside out

The branding exercise saw both girls lose sight of who their customer is. The cow splats on Camilla's branding courted some controversy and confusion for the customer, as the nut milk is vegan and a dairy free alternative.

Sian;s digital screen didn't come across as luxury or exhibit the reversible design element. Kurran even described it as "tacky".

I think the lesson here is that people have increasingly short attention spans and with limited budget you need to create brand names and visuals that instantly speak to your target market.

With a few exceptions, most new businesses have plenty of existing competition, if your customer is given the slightest excuse to look at the product on the shelf below or the next webpage then they will.

Lesson three: Set project constraints: Must have, should have, could have.

When creating the promo video for the nut milk there was a guideline of 30 seconds for the promo video. Camilla's team failed to remember and overran to one minute and 11 seconds. This held up the editing process.

A promo video should sum up the brand in 30 seconds. However, the sub team hadn't thought about what must be achieved within this time limit and there was no explanation about the relevance of taking a selfie with the nut milk.

The same applied for Sian's promo video. The objectives were not clear for the viewer, as it didn't convey a direct message to the consumer that the swimwear was reversible.

At the start of a project it is useful to map out your 'must haves' (must be 30 seconds, show the milk and what it is made from) then your 'should haves' (humour) and finally your 'could haves'.

By prioritising different aspects you ensure that you always achieve your 'must haves' on time and budget, with any remaining resources spent on any should and could haves.

Lesson 4: Camilla's downfall... Get your numbers right

From being there at the final pitch for The Apprentice and tasting Camilla's product, I thought she had it. She tripped up on her numbers in the presentation but it became really clear in the boardroom that Camilla really didn't understand her figures.

To have a successful brand you need to create a product that people want, but to scale it you need to understand the financial and commercial elements

You have to know your numbers, understand your market, the impact that wholesaling has and your pricing and be realistic about what your customer is willing to pay. These are all inextricably linked and when one element crumbles so do the rest.

Lesson 5: Sian, the worthy winner

Sian was right when she turned to Camilla and said: "anyone could do what you are doing".

Even if her bikinis and business plan aren't for everyone, she is clearly a very astute business woman. Claud, Karen and Lord Sugar described her as clever, ambitious and very investible, and praised her for her ability to make her point calmly and clearly. We couldn't agree more.

Our final lesson is that by being confident in your own ability, leaning on your strengths, deferring on your weaknesses and making your points clearly and without shouting you will command a lot more respect in the long run.

Hear Rosie sharing her PR tips in the Make me famous zone at StartUp 2019, the biggest start-up show of the new year in London on 19 January. Book a ticket here.

Rosie Davies-Smith
Rosie Davies-SmithFounderPR Dispatch
I'm Rosie, the founder of PR Dispatch. I also am the founder and director of PR agency LFA. I started PR Dispatch to offer affordable PR support to brands who couldn't afford to spend thousands on a PR agency each month. We give our members everything they need to pitch their products to the press.  Since 2014 I've worked with thousands of brands and nothing makes me happier than teaching brands how to do their own PR and get results. It's been an honour to be recognised for our work with PR and small businesses through a number of awards (2016 Natwest Great British Creative Industries Entrepreneur of the year and 2019 Enterprise Nation PR advisor of the year). I started PR agency with no previous PR experience (find out more here) so truly believe that anyone can do their PR if they just no how. 

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