Alan Sugar Leadership and Business Success
Alan Sugar (1947- )
English founder of Amstrad, the electronics and computer business, and host of the British BBC
TV version of The Apprentice.
He (pictured right) sold Amstrad in 2007 to BSkyB, Rupert Murdoch’s satellite TV business.
What does he say about leadership and business
1. Quality and customer satisfaction
You must know your customers and what they want, he says.
He had troubles in the 1990s, because of unreliability in his business PC’s, which ruined
his computer business.
In the mid-80s his biggest money spinners were new products:
- word processors (pictured right)
His computer game machine failed in 1990, because it wasn’t innovative enough, being technologically inferior to
its rivals, Sega and Nintendo.
But he was the only manufacturer producing satellite receiver boxes and
dishes, scooping the market when Sky satellite TV was launched in Britain.
3. Cut costs
“Margin is king”, he says, i.e. the difference between price and cost makes a business
He likes to sell lots of products at low prices by keeping costs as low as possible.
So he bought components and products from cheap Far East suppliers.
4. Risk taking, hard work and knowledge
Sugar (pictured right as a young man) has a keen eye for any potential money
At 16 he started selling vegetables out of the van he bought with his savings of £100.
Sugar then sold products like cigarette lighters and TV aerials and at 21 set up Amstrad.
There are three essentials to success in any new business he says:
- knowledge of the industry (keeping an open mind and learning from others and
- selling something special which will attract customers.
5. Be flexible
Change your products and policy when you have to (particularly to meet changes in customer
6. Be tough
He is ruthless, autocratic, decisive and doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
He has been described as “Richard Branson
(pictured right) with a personality bypass”!
He’s tough, but fair and honest with a caustic sense of humour.
7. Respect other people
Listen to and learn from others, and never try to be someone you’re
People will fail, if they:
- try to succeed at the expense of others.
8. Determination and ambition
His life is a classic rags to riches story, having been brought up as a poor tailor’s son in a
council flat in Hackney, London.
9. Management and selling skills
He is a:
- brilliant salesman (with an excellent eye for publicity)
- good time manager – his motto is “clear your desk every day”.
10. Motivating employees
He earned the commitment and trust of his employees through:
- integrity (keeping his promises)
Key quote on
A good leader is not necessarily always the most liked person in the company, but the best are liked because
they are respected for their clarity and vision.
Key quotes on influencing
No one trusts a faker.
In order to gain respect, you need to be true to yourself. There is no point in trying to be brutal, if it’s not
in your nature.
Key quote on
You’ll never be successful, if you’re cautious.
Key quote on
Margin is king.
Key quotes on
Motivation is all about inspiring people.
The marketplace is a battleground and unless you go into battle with an army that backs you 100%, you will