From the top · 10 March 2017

Alan Sugar attributes business success to managing margins

alansugar1
Alan Sugar: “Have a wakeup call with yourself”

Striving to achieve high margins should be the aim of anyone wanting to run a successful business, according to celebrated entrepreneur and life peer, Alan Sugar.

During a recent speech to hundreds of small business decision makers in London, The Apprentice presenter and renowned business mogul also revealed that being able to determine the market price of a product or service – something he achieved when first starting out in business – would give today’s new business owners an inherent advantage over competitors.

Giving away some of his best entrepreneurial advice at online accounting platform Quickbooks’ Connect event, held at London’s Tobacco Dock on 7 March, Sugar said in his speech: “A high margin has always been the culture of my business.

“These days, young business people, including some of the winners I’ve had on The Apprentice, see any margin as a good thing. That should be the lower limit of their ambition. I ask them to think about what a product is really worth.”

The self-made electronics entrepreneur explained that as well as high margins, innovation had enabled him to find a way to make products that were cheaper than anyone else’s.

Through capital investment in innovative technology, he’d quickly been able to take over his first market, and was easily able to set the price for his products.

An equally important attribute of successful business people for Sugar was an ability to set targets, and stick to them. “Setting targets is the most important thing for new owners when starting out,” he said.

“The focus should be on costs,” he added. “Have a wakeup call with yourself about what your spending, every day if necessary, but at least every week or month.”

Finally, Sugar used his speech to talk about how important his family’s been to his success in business, particularly as his celebrity has grown.

“I’ve helped many successful people get where they are,” he explained, “and some occasionally let it go to their head.

“For some people, their heads turn and they get distracted. Despite all the hard work I’ve done over the years, I’ve never really worked on weekends.

“I’ve always been around to help out at home, and that’s kept me grounded,” he added.

Read on for the lessons in business from Richard Branson you can’t afford to ignore. 

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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