An interview with The Apprentice's Paul Sullivan
PUBLISHED: 16:44 09 January 2017
The Apprentice's Paul Sullivan on building his business, giving something back and maybe even a movie appearance
Lord Alan Sugar’s infamous ‘You’re fired!’ can leave TV viewers shaking in their boots let alone the poor soul facing him across the boardroom table, but Paul Sullivan’s exit has simply left him more determined than ever.
Already a successful businessman when he entered the show, as owner and director of marketing firm Modedaweb, Paul insists, ‘Real entrepreneurs don’t dwell on their mistakes, they take stock, move forward and learn from them.’
Paul admits his only regret is not following his own instincts in his final task, an event at Madame Tussauds, which, he believes, led to his getting fired from the BBC show.
‘I was a bit disappointed because I went against my better nature,’ he explains. ‘I followed my head, not my gut, by focusing on profit rather than customer service and, in playing that game I let myself down.
‘I pride myself on being 110 per cent committed to the task at hand so it was also a little disappointing to discover some of my teammates were more worried about not getting fired than getting the job done which I found very frustrating. Having said that I really enjoyed my time on the show and I’ve made some great friends.’
When it comes to Lord Sugar, Paul found the business magnate inspiring rather than intimidating and would love to work with him in the future. ‘Any candidate who gets fired by him then says they’d never work with him is a fool,’ he says. ‘It’s not personal and he has such influence, an ability to open so many doors.’
Paul also found sporting executive and Government advisor Baroness Brady a motivating force. He explains, ‘When she assesses you she really questions things, really tries to get you to think about what you’re doing and bring out the best in you. She’s very hands-on and I’d love the opportunity to work with her at some point.’
Since walking out of The Apprentice boardroom for the final time, Paul’s focus has been entirely back on his own business Modedaweb. The marketing agency, which specialises in finance, technology, construction and property, already has a strong client base across the UK and the United States and Paul hopes 2017 will see him branch out into Asia.
He says, ‘As a service industry, we’re not held back by international borders and with modern technology, as a business you can service all time zones. It might mean working all hours but I’m used to that.’
This year will also see Paul launch two new projects which will offer businesses support in marketing, sales, web design and social media.
Paul has teamed up with web designer Scott Whitehead for Paul Sullivan Marketing, a high level coaching and mentoring programme which will give clients access to their expertise for just £99-a-month. He says, ‘I enjoy talking with people, looking at their issues and helping provide solutions. I was once a small business with the same fears about marketing but I know how vital marketing is to sales, the two really go hand-in-hand.’
Paul’s second new project is his online academy, 12 modules over 12 months, plus some class-based workshops, that aim to furnish clients with a skillset in social media, web design, marketing and sales.
He explains, ‘It’s perfect for busy people because they can access the programme anytime, fitting it in around work and other commitments, and it will help them build their own website and social media profile from start to finish.’
Although running his own business keeps Paul very busy, he’s still found the time to make sure he uses his post-Apprentice profile to help others, visiting local schools to share his experience and also spending time at Woodford-based hospice Haven House to offer advice on marketing.
He says, ‘The Apprentice has given me a platform and I wanted to do something positive with that, to give something back. Haven House is amazing, such a positive place and the staff are unbelievable. When you talk to them and ask them about their work they’re so passionate. They really believe in what they’re doing and I’m keen to help out in any way I can, hopefully helping them grow from a business perspective and using my profile to raise awareness.’
And Haven House is very much a local charity for Paul who, having grown-up in Bow, has lived in East London and West Essex for years. He says, ‘I first moved to Wanstead, then Chigwell and I now live in Loughton which I love because it’s maintained that village feel but you’re still only 30 minutes from London on the central line which is great for business. Loughton also has lots of great shops, cafes and bars and I have some excellent clients in the area.’
One of those local clients is an actor and film producer who, initially, sought Paul’s advice on how to market his latest movie, however their meeting could lead Paul in a very different career direction.
He explains, ‘We were chatting about raising awareness of his latest project on social media when I jokingly asked if he’d let me be an extra on the film. He suggested I read for a part, I laughed but he was completely serious so I’m going to do it.
‘I believe, sometimes in life, opportunities present themselves and you’d be a fool to just say no and let them pass you by.
‘Of course I’m firmly focused on continuing to build my business but you get one chance in life. You can live in a box or you can follow your dreams and I always choose to follow my dreams.’