Alana Spencer: What it was really like to give away half of my business to Lord Sugar

With a 40-page contract to wade through, retaining 50% of her business for Lord Sugar’s partnership wasn’t a decision made overnight for the winner of The Apprentice 2016

Alana Spencer: What it was really like to give away half of my business to Lord Sugar

Winning The Apprentice 2016 was crazy. And I could write for days about how it felt, share how I spent the £250,000 investment, what Lord Sugar is really like and what I did in the first year – all questions I still get asked on a daily basis. 

Following the win, after the madness of Christmas, there were three main focuses: One, employ someone to take care of the orders so I could concentrate on growth. Two, sign the contract and actually become Lord Sugar’s business partner. Three, find a long-term plan for production and start putting it into place. 

I got incredibly lucky with the first goal. I found someone who was very hard working and willing to do what was needed to get all the orders out of the door. I had to put a lot of trust in her as she was baking, packing, banking, selling – everything. In fact, she was a lifesaver and I’m not sure what I would have done without her. As a result, this part of the business quickly came under control which allowed me to see a little clearer and have time to focus on the bigger picture.

Part of that picture was signing the contract and officially going into business with Lord Sugar. Since it was born from the win of a television show many people didn’t see it as a real partnership. But for me, with a 40-page contract to sift through, it all felt very real. I’m not ashamed to say I took rather a long time to sign it. After all, I was giving away 50% of my business. I read that contract morning, noon and night and almost made it a bigger deal than it needed to be. Then one Tuesday afternoon with my boyfriend, mum, gran and sister all present, I finally signed and popped a bottle of champagne. It was official: Lord Sugar was my business partner and sure enough, two days later, £250,000 was deposited into my account. 

Finally, I had my third and perhaps biggest aim: finding a long-term business plan and actually putting it into action. Not many know this but the one I presented on The Apprentice wasn’t the one I eventually put into practice. After a long chat with Lord Sugar and Claude Litner, it was really obvious we needed to concentrate on the model that was already working: selling my cakes at events, food festivals, carnivals all across the country, so we decided to franchise our business and find franchisees, which we call brand ambassadors. 

I can’t remember a time before or since that I was running on so much adrenaline. In such a short space of time we had over 100 applications and suddenly, it all felt like it could actually happen. 

Alana Spencer
Alana Spencer

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