The Apprentice 2011

In�last week�s analysis of The Apprentice (week 8), I highlighted three people and promised a short blog on each.

In the third of these, I want to look at Helen Milligan’s competent professionalism, and ask the question:

Has Helen shown any real entrepreneurial flair?

Helen Milligan

Helen Milligan

Helen Milligan - click image for Helen's LinkedIn page.

Greggs, the high street bakery and convenience food outlet has more stores (1,400) in the UK than McDonalds (1,200) and twice as many as Starbucks (700).

So a rapid promotion from a regional manager to the Executive Assistant to the CEO at Greggs suggests to me a very talented person indeed. �Helen’s�sound law degree also suggests a sharp mind.

But Helen’s whole career has been in “safe” corporate roles. �Is this what Lord Sugar wants this year, when he is looking for an entrepreneur who can start up a new business from scratch and run it?

What is an Entrepreneur?

The popular TV series “The Dragons’ Den” has given us an image of the entrepreneur that fits a pattern that I refer to as
“The Zeus Entrepreneur”:

Zeus Entrepreneurs

Experienced, adept, steeped in knowledge of product or market.
These are serious investors, with serious ideas, who have the gravitas to raise serious money

  • Will succeed when their idea is good enough
  • Will fail if external factors become insurmountable

This is a crude stereotype and it is a mistake to think that the fast-thinking, go-getting, assertive, abrasive image of an entrepreneur is either a necessary description, nor even a common one. �On The Dragons’ Den, think about how differently James Caan comes across, compared to the more combative style the other dragons favour. �He is careful,�thoughtful�and always respectful. �He eschews the cheap laugh or the snide put-down. �He speaks his mind, but only to make his point: not to create a sound-bite for the producers.

I think there are many types of entrepreneur: I have named them after characters from Greek mythology, because those characters nicely portray archetypes. �One of them is “The Odysseus Entrepreneur”:

Odysseus Entrepreneurs

They are cunning and cautious, and look for opportunities with low risk – one where their partners can bring skills and experience they can rely on and where their sound judgement can add value to the business

  • Will succeed because they take careful decisions and develop the business steadily
  • Will fail when their competitors are hungrier than they are

This seems to me a good model for how Helen – on the evidence I have seen – could thrive as an entrepreneur: preparing carefully, trusting the sound judgement of others and eschewing arrogant and selfish behaviours.

The Conclusion about Helen

Helen has looked like a strong candidate all along and, after 8 shows, has an unbroken record of wins. �She is competent, professional and has been a good contributor to all tasks. �You cannot not admire her performance to date. If she can convince Lord Sugar that she has the grit to move from a corporate life where she is the person who helps the person in charge, to a start-up where she is the person in charge; she can win.

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One Response to The Apprentice: Helen and the Nature of Entrepreneurship
  1. […] a achieved corporate professional, though small like a �classic� entrepreneur.� we pronounced much a same thing in a blog.� The turn of risk-comfort is one of a many variables and we like to cruise of myself as a […]


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