After a hard fought second place in the Apprentice, Ruth Badger has moved on and unleashed a new venture of her own. ‘The Badger’ is now offering her services as a consultant to companies who wish to boost their sales. She talks exclusively to Startups.co.uk.
“I am not an apprentice”, says Badger firmly, when asked why she thinks Sir Alan chose her counterpart Michelle Dewberry over her.
“He couldn’t teach me what he can teach her, because I already know a lot about business.”
Indeed, Badger, 27, had built for herself an impressive CV well before she applied for the BBC show.
Despite leaving school at 16 she soon learned the most important trick of all in business – making money.
Sales, as viewers of the show will recall, is her strength, and Badger won a series of promotions at major companies prior to her TV debut.
She feels, perhaps with some justification, that she was always too good to be anyone’s apprentice, even a tycoon like Sugar.
“I think I realised that shortly after filming began,” she says.
Nevertheless, she still managed to produce a stellar performance on the show and relished every selling opportunity that came her way, whether it was luxury apartments or fruit and vegetables.
Sugar clearly realised that letting her go would be a loss, so after filming he gave her a job at Viglen selling computers to primary schools.
However, the two equally combative personalities of Badger and Sugar were not destined to mix.
“I am a better manager than he is, and I told him that too,” chuckles Badger.
So, in January 2006, she registered her new business, Badger Consulting, at Companies House, providing herself with a nice safety net before the show’s result was announced.
She began trading in June that year and quickly began picking up clients.
Badger said: “We offer real live training for groups up to 30 and we deal with all levels of staff.”
The company offer a range of service including sales and motivational training, business performance, and company launches and rescues.
However, Badger is at pains to point out that the company isn’t just about her giving a client’s business some celebrity stardust.
She feels that her techniques and methods can be used taught by others - the Badger selling style, it would appear, can be imitated.
The company employs four consultants who are on a retainer basis, so that Badger doesn’t have to fork out for regular salaries and can use them when there is work to do.
Badger’s celebrity undoubtedly benefits her business and she is making the most of it.
Panasonic provided her with all her office equipment free of charge, realising the PR potential in attaching its name to a big name client.
Badger once proudly claimed she would be a millionaire before the age of 30.
The question is would she have done it without the Apprentice?
“The Apprentice gave me a platform to trade on and as a participant in the show there are valuable gains.
“But I gave up eight months of my life and I wasn’t working while the show was being filmed.”
There is no question the show has been a major boost for her, but even though she didn’t win she might still be the most successful of the contestants.
“I got the same coverage as Michelle, but who has the most credibility?” she says.
Entrepreneurship is, after all, about making the most of the cards you are dealt but Badger doesn’t appear to like the tag of entrepreneur.
“I don’t think anybody wants to be an entrepreneur. I have been too busy making money thinking about it.”
Alongside, her consultancy business, she has written a book giving the inside story on the Apprentice. The tome will be out later this year.
“The show is very competitive but I think the way they edit the show is totally different.
“For instance, I think they totally underestimated Ansell, he’s a very good businessman but I don’t think that came across.”
Other projects include a programme on Sky One, The Big Idea, where she will be giving wannabe entrepreneurs business advice.
The future for ‘The Badger’ seems bright, and her £1m ambition seems to be within sight.
Badger’s top five tips
Badger Consultancy could be a great way to give your sales team a major boost, but Ruth is busy and hard to get hold of. Therefore, she has kindly given the readers of Startups.co.uk a few tips free of charge.
“The most important thing about selling is qualifying: does the customer actually want to buy what you have offer –you have to ask them, never assume they are talking to you because they want to buy. I have employed hundreds of sales staff and so many can do it all but they don’t qualify and therefore don’t get the sales.”
Set your goals
“Success is a progression, going from A to B to C. Don’t go on national TV and announce that you are going to be a millionaire by the time you are 30 like I did. I still believe that I will be but I put myself under too much pressure. Just set goals that are realistic steps.”
Always prepare for the unexpected
“Once you are running a business you will get a lot of surprises. I always try to prepare for the unexpected when before I go out to meet a client. It is the only way not to get caught out “
Tell the truth
“Don’t overpromise. Our motto is that we under-promise and over achieve. This will lead to happy customers and repeat business. Modesty can breed trust.”
“If you aren’t enjoying it then what’s the point? Perhaps the most important advice of all.”