A few Sunday’s ago, my client was on the final of the tenth series of the BBC’s The Apprentice and although I was so very proud I was also a little saddened by the show itself.
When the show first kicked off a decade ago, it was great to see a reality TV show about business and entrepreneurship brought to the masses. However, despite the show having evolved from Lord Sugar’s search for an apprentice to his search for an entrepreneurial business partner, it is still stuck in the dark ages, as any entrepreneur will tell you. As popular and entertaining as it is, the show now perpetuates out-dated ideas of what makes good business people and what investors look for in startup founders.
As the founder of a startup platform that connects top venues and event services to the M.I.C.E market and corporates alike, this worries me as I believe that shows like The Apprentice are putting people off working in startups, particularly young people.
Phrases such as “Everything I touch turns to gold”, “My first word wasn’t mummy, it was money,” and “I am the reflection of perfection” shows how The Apprentice portrays entrepreneurs as selfish, arrogant and clueless. The show suggests that the only way to succeed in business is to be an alpha male, sales obsessed and not averse to trampling on team mates to get to the top.
In modern day business – particularly in startups – this couldn’t be further from the truth. Entrepreneurs, in the context of startups, are generally defined as people who see a problem and develop an innovative way to solve it through business. They then build a team of people around them who share that vision to help them get there. Therefore, startup entrepreneurs are typically inclusive, collaborative, team players, and have a variety of skills beyond just selling. They very rarely sport an Oxford tie and bluetooth headset ready for a bloodbath in a stuffy boardroom!
I recently read that amongst over 1,000 employees in corporate companies, which found that 86 per cent would prefer a role in a startup where they would feel more valued and 65 per cent said working in a startup would be their dream job.
The startup industry itself is growing rapidly so there are lots of opportunities for people to find a job that really excites them. Investment in startups was at its highest since 2008 point last year and more companies went public in the first quarter of this year than any year in the last eight years. Meanwhile, startups going on to sell up have been worth more year upon year, and if you add up what they’re all worth, it’s the largest total since 2007.
It is great that people are recognizing the benefits that go alongside working in a startup. However, we can’t let shows like The Apprentice give startup entrepreneurs a bad name.
Be proud of being a part of a startup in any capacity and speak up about what makes you a great entrepreneur and lets prove shows like The Apprentice are not a reflection of ourselves, our lives or our values.
For those wanting to see my amazing client, The Bloomsbury Ballroom on the show, please watch the video below. As for the show itself, lets hope 2015 brings something fresh and new that better represents the startup community and the incredible folk who make them.