Entrepreneur Samuel Boateng first came to our attention as a candidate on the last season of the Apprentice. We recently caught up with him where he shares tips for anyone thinking of starting a business.
What is your background?
I was born in South London, I am the oldest of five siblings and have an identical twin brother. When I was 12, I moved to a small town called Bury, Greater Manchester, where I was one of a few black kids in the school. I did not particularly enjoy school and was bullied, but I look back at that time and realise it’s helped shape who I am today.
Tell us a bit about your career journey so far?
I studied IT and business studies at University. I put myself out there to be a part of various committees which included becoming president of the Afro-Caribbean Society which was pivotal in helping me to build relationship and leadership skills.
The first real role in my career involved interning at Enterprise rent a car, whilst working there I became the top sales person in the region and it was there I learnt no matter what position you are in you can still do well and excel. I later on moved to Car Craft where my career took a knock as the company went into liquidation. It was tough but it was also during that period of unemployment where I got my business idea to develop a recruitment app.
So how did you get involved in the Apprentice?
I never watched the show but my wife was an avid fan and always said I should apply for it. There was one evening I started watching it with her and I really liked what I saw. I decided to apply knowing that there were around 50,000 people who apply for it each year. I was pretty confident I would get onto the show, and thankfully I did!
There are a range of barriers to starting a business from lack of time, money, plan etc. What advice would you give to anyone reading who is trying to set up or grow a business?
1. Get started but be strategic– You are never going to have the funding needed to just suddenly have the ‘huge business’ you have in your heart unless you win the lottery or get extremely lucky. However, you can gradually build it by writing down your end goal then writing down gradual progressive steps as to how you can build your vision.
2. Put yourself out there– Winning the apprentice would have been great but my end goal was to create a public profile, to develop networking opportunities which I could use as a stepping stone to help me launch my business which it has immensely.
3. Create a vision/cause It’s not just about having a great product or service. People want to believe in your cause and be part of it, brands like iPhone really model this well.
4. Find an encourager – Find someone who can support and encourage you to keep going as well push you to take strategic risks. For me that person has been my wife, but it could be anyone who genuinely wants to see you succeed e.g. friend, mentor, colleague etc.
5. Develop partnerships– Find a team of people who have individual specialities but share the same vision as you and are willing to build long-term. I have a team of four who I met through LinkedIn and referrals. We all have full-time jobs and work evenings to build the company knowing that it will pay off in the long-term.
6. Ask yourself why you need investment?– Do you actually need it or want it? People often use a lot of the investment on marketing, but many brands started out by creating strategic marketing campaigns that effectively captured their target audience for free. Investment means handing over some control of your company so make sure you really need it!
7. Commit for at least 3 years– My dad always told me if you have a business idea and can commit to it for at least 3 years, you will probably succeed as people often give up well before then. It is normal to have doubts, but keep going as once your past the third year you’re more likely to succeed and see all the fruits of your labour.
Samuel is working on a recruitment app which will enable job hunters to showcase who they are in a more creative way. The app is due to release in June 2017. To find out more about what Samuel is currently involved in please visit http://www.spbprojects.co/