Boris, Cowell and Space Hoppers: Business Lessons from the Week

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Rachael Simpson, Marketing Support Analyst at Usomo reviews the week’s events to see what business lessons we can learn.

Boris Johnson, Simon Cowell and Space Hoppers: Business Lessons from the Week


Boris Johnson

This week, Ken Livingstone spoke of how Labour voters were telling him they’d vote for Boris because ‘He’s a good laugh.’ And he may be right, recent polls suggest one in ten Labour voters plan to vote for Mr Johnson. In the interview, Ken Livingstone remarked “I didn’t come into politics to make you laugh,” before cracking out a few ‘corkers’. Regardless of their policies or the consideration of who would actually benefit London most as mayor, it’s undeniable how infectious Boris Johnson’s personality is in winning people over, and that’s certainly something not to be sniffed at in business.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is not realising that people want to do business with people. This has never been more important in the SME sector. Each phone call, twitter post, blog and social network interaction is a way of promoting ‘you’ as a brand, and this shouldn’t be ignored. Richard Branson, Alan Sugar and Michelle Mone have all used their personalities to help grow their business- perhaps now is the time to start working on brand ‘you.’

Simon Cowell

This week the battle between Britain’s got Talent and The Voice came to a head when ITV decided to concede defeat and move their show to a later time slot. The move was sensible, but not necessarily expected. So what does Simon Cowell teach us? Even a brand as big as BGT knows when to admit defeat and move on- and you should too.

Many household brands have got it wrong, for example M&S joined forces with Books Brothers in the US and made massive losses before retreating. Of course though, it’s difficult to know when to retreat when a huge amount of capital and your brands reputation are on the line. Tesco for example today confirmed that their Fresh and Easy brand in America would not reach breakeven as soon as expected. They are also reducing the number of stores that they had planned to open over the next year, as currently only 30 out of 186 Fresh and Easy outlets are profitable. New ventures and expansion are of course risky, but such risks reap large rewards. The key is knowing when your business should move on.

Space Hoppers

This week’s Apprentice task was to come up with a new fitness routine, which would then be sold on to gyms. Team Phoenix won with their Retro Space Hopper routine, but the cost of free gym equipment they’d promised as part of the programme wasn’t taken in to consideration- so I like to think of them as the losers (I’m sure others must agree?).

The critical factor which derailed the Groovy Train was that Phoenix didn’t put themselves in their customer’s shoes. If they had, they would have quickly realised that for gyms to store the amount of equipment needed to complete the routines was just unfeasible. The main problem was that the equipment was non-transferable, hula hoops and space hoppers aren’t traditional gym items after all, so the risk was incredibly high. Phoenix concentrated on their product offering rather than thinking about the customer. So what can we learn? You can have an incredible and professional product, but if your product doesn’t meet the needs of your customer, then what’s the point?

Rachael Simpson, Marketing Analyst Usomo LTD

Usomo is a company providing VoIP solutions to small businesses. It provides both single-user and multi-user VoIP with various PBX features. For more information, please visit:



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