Alan Sugar’s Entrepreneur Characteristics


Due to competition and changing preferences, an entrepreneur must plan any business activity and micromanage the risks involved. The main measures of entrepreneurship skills are motivation, personal attitude, and aptitude. Besides, an entrepreneur should be innovative and keen on identifying opportunities, which are turned into successful enterprises. This reflective treatise will attempt to review the character of Alan Sugar from the UK as an entrepreneur.

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As a successful entrepreneur, Sir Alan Sugar has developed successful businesses from simple ideas and is currently one of the most respected business magnates across the UK and the entire globe. The paper will discuss Alan Sugar’s entrepreneurship characteristics, such as innovation, ability to network, and successes or failures within the lenses of entrepreneurship. In addition, the paper presents lessons learned and the most valuable concepts in entrepreneurship from theoretical and practical perspectives.

Characteristics of Sugar as an Entrepreneur

Born and raised in East London, Alan Michael Sugar is a renowned entrepreneur with interests in media, electronics, aviation, and advertisement ventures. Sugar has been able to build more than six companies from scratch into multimillion dollar investments across the UK. Currently, Sugar is a proud owner of renowned establishments such as Amstrad, Amsair, Amsprop, Viglen Ltd, Amscreen, YouView, and Tottenham Hotspurs, which is later sold in the last decade (Sugar 2011). Despite being raised in a peasant family, he was able to overcome the economic and social challenges through turning business ideas into successful ventures.

The main measures of entrepreneurship skills are attained on motivation, personal outlook and ability. Apparently, Sugar meets the average score in terms of his entrepreneurship skills. On the parameters of motivational factors towards being an entrepreneur, Sugar is certain of the scale of possible success and has a strong appeal to control the situation. Besides, as an enterpreneur, he is prepared to face challenges and transform these challenges into self efficiency responses to ensure sustainable freedom in handling business needs.

For instance, at the conception of the Amstrad computer venture, Sugar’s initial plan was to import household electronics into the region of East London. However, he identified the opportunity of production to satisfy the local demand as opposed to importation. Within five years, the company grew into producing local electronics, space satellites, and computers from a simply electronics importation store. Apparently, Sugar was able to scout for the opportunities and market demand for more affordable electronics that were assembled locally (Sugar 2012). As a result, he created a successful chain.

Sugar’s creativity and tolerance towards situations may make a business sustainable when faced circumstances demanding perseverance. On the parameters of personal attitude, his perception towards adopting strategic measures that are void of emotions is stronger than that of an average entrepreneur. Besides, the score card indicates that he is very strong in making long term choices within the shortest time possible.

For instance, in the transformation of the Amstrad into a publicly traded company, Sugar made the decision within four years of the business to raise more capital for critical expansion across the entire UK and Europe. Despite the predictions by several financial analysts that this decision would eventually collapse, it was not the case since Sugar had made an accurate prediction of the future of technology across the UK. In the end, the Amstrad Venture was voted the most promising company in the 1980s and still performs well several decades later (Murray 2010).

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An excellent entrepreneur should possess transformational leadership skills that identify a range of problematic situations an individual face in his or her social environment, and generates multiple alternative solutions to those problems; he/she lays a series of procedures that are necessary to achieve desired results rather than postponing response strategies. Sugar posses that attitude of being a ‘go-getter’ is critical in addressing different situations. For instance, the decision to acquire a football team at the time when it had a serious financial crisis created a fertile business environment for Sugar. At the end of the deal, Sugar sold the football club at nearly double the price he bought it just over a decade of full ownership (Sugar 2011).

The term sustainability refers to the ability to survive a risk level, while at the same time being within a profitability mode. In business environment, sustainability is affected by the forces in the market, decision science, business structure, and real financial management both in short and long term. Therefore, a business must put in place stringent measures and strategies aimed at monitoring risk modules within feasible levels in order to effectively manage its operations strategies. Basically, Sugar’s score on personal attitude indicates that he is above average in entrepreneurship acumen.

It is apparent that Sugar is way above average in terms of possessing the basic entrepreneurship skills such as inspiration to succeed. The eight successful ventures established by Sugar were inspired by the need to service the available opportunities. For instance, the Amsair was established to serve the growing need for business class air services. The Amsair Company promised to improve on comfort, efficiency, and reliability of air transport to business class and other VIPs. In the end, the idea was successfully transformed by Sugar into a company that currently owns a fleet of Cessna aircraft in the UK (Sugar 2012).

Reflectively, there is a need for creation of a certain level of operational risks in the business management matrix in order to track any changes and success of different business strategies. Sugar is good at tolerating operational risks which involve threats associated with people, processes, and technological elements of running the business. The essential human input requirement towards the entry planning and development phases is part of the operational risk that has a positive impact on the stability of a business. Notwithstanding, the diversification of the workforce in a business may ensure flexibility in the definition of the interdependent components that are translated into the realization of an elastic business operation.

The above risks have ensured that Sugar’s businesses are up-to-date in terms of policy on change strategies. It will also ensure that the content of the policy is made available to all stakeholders in the business. For instance, in the long battle for ownership of the Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club, Sugar accepted high risk when he fired the team manager and refused to extend the contract of a fine football player. Though it cost him several losses in premium league, the company managed to remain afloat over the two decades he owned it. This was due to the ability of Sugar to remain rational between the business and passion aspects of managing the football club (Murray 2010).

Sugar as a Change Maker: Major Innovations

Innovation involves doing things differently or doing different thing in order to arrive at large gains in performance at the micro and macro levels of entrepreneurship. Lack of capital and funding are the main obstacles to innovation. Therefore, an excellent entrepreneur should possess transformational leadership skills that identify a range of problematic situations that an individual faces in his or her social environment, and generates multiple alternative solutions to those problems through innovation.

In relation to Alan Michael Sugar, he was able to lay a series of procedures that were necessary to achieve desired results rather than postpone response strategies. For instance, his innovative idea of using alternatives in production to lower the overall cost of manufacturing electronics at his Amstrad business was a brilliant idea. As a result, “he achieved lower production prices by using injection molding plastics for hi-fi turntable covers, severely undercutting competitors who used a vacuum-forming processes” (Murray 2010, p. 41).

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Action planning in entrepreneurship is of importance to create solution oriented task and strategy implementation secession for quantifying task orientation levels. Thus, a budding entrepreneur must possess task orientation leadership skills at an individual task management level in reviewing actual and expected outcomes of any business opportunity as is the belief of Sugar. Again, “recognizing the opportunity of the home computer era, Amstrad launched an 8-bit machine, the Amstrad CPC 464” (Murray 2010, p. 28) to successfully get a cutting age among the major competitors such as the Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX.

As a result of this innovation, Amstrad was able to sell at least three million units within three years, which is equivalent of what the two competitors sold within the same period. Again, at the beginning of the year 1985, “Sugar had another major breakthrough with the launch of the Amstrad PCW 8256 word processor, which, although made of cheap components, retailed at over £300” (Russel & Cohn 2013, p. 19). This innovative approach to survive competition positioned the Amstrad as the market leader and it was able to acquire one of its major competitors.

Finance and Networking Strategies of Sugar

Entrepreneurship ability, as a factor of production, refers to the capacity to combine other factors of production such as capital, natural resources, labor and technology to create a sensible and sustainable process of producing goods and services. Entrepreneurship ability provides foresight which is very crucial since it gives a business rough perspective and an overview of the future concerning the expected and unexpected changes and challenges in the production of goods and services. Businesses compete with each other through the production of competitive products in terms of quality, price, quantity, and packaging. Sugar is an experienced entrepreneur who has successfully raised funds for his several businesses through savings, bank loans, and public trading.

Sugar has relied heavily on his personal savings to start the first company called the Amstrad at a young age of 28. Being a social person, it was easy for him to raise money for his first venture through series of friends and local organizations. After growing the first company for six years, Sugar managed to attract more funding through bank loans and he started to produce electronics and computers. Since the business was expanding very quickly, Sugar decided to enlist the Amstrad Company in the London Stock Market as a publicly traded entity. Through this approach, Sugar could raise enough capital to not only further expansion, but also acquire one of the Amstrad’s main competitors.

In the end, the success of the Amstrad enabled Sugar to raise enough funds that were used to start other ventures such as Amsair, Amsprop, Viglen Ltd, Amscreen, YouView, and Tottenham Hotspurs. Besides, Sugar depended on bank loans to further his business interests in different industries in the UK. Apart from the bank loans, Sugar was able to acquire great companies through social networking and strategic positioning of his business interests. For instance, the acquisition of the Tottenham Hotspurs was a partnership deal with one of his childhood friends. In the end, Sugar gained full control of the company. As a social entrepreneur, he is a member of several business networking groups that have honored his achievements and paved way for expansion of his customer networks (Murray 2010).

Major Causes of Business Failure Experienced by Sugar and Response Strategies

Despite having been a successful entrepreneur in the East London, West London, UK, Europe, and the entire globe, Sugar’s entrepreneurial journal was also marked by a series of business failures. These failures threatened to overpower Sugar’s entrepreneurial instincts since some of them involved very large sums of monetary and logistical resources. For instance, despite an outstanding performance for more than two decades, Sugar’s first venture collapsed due to its inability to integrate technological metamorphosis in the competitive electronics and computer industry. For instance, in the year 1990, “Amstrad entered the gaming market with the Amstrad GX4000, but it was a commercial failure, largely because there was only a poor selection of games available on it” (Murray 2010, p. 21).

The failure was a result of the inability of the company to create and consistently select the right and most competitive games in the dynamic computer gaming industry. As a result, the business was not strategically positioned to gain a considerable stake in the expansive and dynamic market. This failure cost Sugar several millions of pounds in failed investment. In addition, Sugar’s gaming venture “was immediately superseded by the Japanese consoles: Mega Drive and Super Nintendo, which both had a much more comprehensive selection of games” (Sugar 2011, p. 38). In the end, Sugar had to suspend his interests in the lucrative gaming industry due to little or no sales that could sustain the business as a response strategy to stop any further losses.

The failures suffered by Sugar did not end with the closure of the gaming venture. For instance, in the year 1993, “Amstrad released the PenPad, a PDA, and bought into Betacom and Viglen, so as to focus more on telecommunications rather than computers” (Russel & Cohn 2013, p. 43). The company then went ahead to release the unique [email protected] service to offer customers the opportunity of making calls via their emails without having to worry about the cost of making the online calls. Unfortunately, the idea failed to pick up and was brought down seven years later.

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The cost implications of this failed venture were so high that Sugar had to relinquish his position as the major shareholder of Amstrad by offloading some of his shares. Eventually, he also had to let go of his position as the chairman of the company. Reflectively, these failures were as a result of poor timing of business ideas and inability to proactively create a focused positing strategy to penetrate the different targeted markets. Since the failures discussed above could not be reversed, Sugar opted for offloading some of his shares to ensure that his business interests stay afloat. This alternative was achieved through proactive and complete overhaul of the failed ideas.

The last notable failure in the entrepreneurial endeavors of Sugar was the inability of his Tottenham Hotspurs business to flourish, despite maintaining ownership for about two decades. Although Sugar acquired the team when it was performing well despite the series of debts, his strategy of running the club did not work out well. The club could not rise to the occasion to reflect its big name and very supportive fan base. The club did not have enough resources to sign top players.

Besides, there was a constant change of the management and wrangles that conspired against the whole business venture. In his own words, Sugar confessed that his stint as the owner of Tottenham Hotspurs was “a waste of my life” (Sugar 2012, p. 31). In response to this failure, Sugar decided to offload all his shares in the year 2007 and was able to recover his investment. At the end of the deal, Sugar was able to receive a sum equivalent to double of his initial investment in the club. This was the most realistic alternative that Sugar could use to recover his investment in the club.

Reference List

Murray, E 2010, The unauthorized guide to doing business the Alan Sugar way: 10 secrets of the boardroom’s toughest interviewer, John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Russel, J, & Cohn, R 2013, Alan Sugar, Book on Demand, London.

Sugar, A 2011, What you see is what you get, Pan Macmillan UK, London.

Sugar, A 2012, The way I see it: Rants, revelations and rules for life, Pan Macmillan UK, London.

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