Pants Man gives students a lesson in business

— Additional reporting by Stephanie Bolton


Philip Taylor, also known as Pants Man, of the BBC's The Apprentice. Photo: Anneka James

Phillip Taylor, also referred to as “the Geordie One” , “John Terry with GCSE’s” and, most commonly, “Pants Man”, prepared three talks for the event, held on Wednesday, February 17th.

Taylor, known for his time on television show The Apprentice, firstly explained how he changed careers, using his determination to get a job he was initially turned down from. “When things seem dead and buried, you have to get life by the teeth, and believe that you can make it happen,” he said.

After a gruelling selection process, Taylor secured a place on The Apprentice. “I realised,” he said, “that it wasn’t about being a great businessman, but being eye-catching. So I walked into my interview and did just that”.

He has recently moved to London and set up “Happy Cottons” – an ethical, organic underwear business. “I want to be as big as Abercrombie and Fitch, it might never get anywhere, but you’ve got to dream.”

Pants Man’s top tips to get where you want to be in the world of business

– Many people have looked at my Happy Cottons idea, and said “you’re stupid”. You need to always believe in yourself and your ideas. If people say you can’t do it, they’re jealous, so prove them wrong.

– You have to have people behind you that believe in you 100 percent. If someone wants to be behind my business, I make sure they completely believe in it first.

– One of the simplest, yet most effective way to get people’s attention, is to create a Facebook page to spread the word.

– Another affordable way to gain interest is by doing a Youtube video. The trick is to film something controversial and exciting. Just remember to advertise your product in it, too.

– Keep people uninvolved for as long as possible. As soon as people have a share in your business, it becomes less about your ideas, and the image of your business can be changed.

– Never be scared to send an email- if someone doesn’t reply, then it’s no big deal.

– Don’t be afraid to ruffle some feathers. There’s something about our culture, we’re all so conservative. It’s not about arrogance, but a lot of people sit back and don’t go for it.

Post grad is a great time to start your own business

Richard Fallon, director of business Out of Hours, who believes that being a student or recent graduate is the best time to start a business, also gave three talks throughout the day.

Fallon offered three advice-packed speeches to entrepreneurial students. He began with his words on networking.

“Networking is about making mates,” he said, expressing how important it is for potential entrepreneurs to network.

“Network your simplest products and services, and describe the benefits they will gain,” Fallon said. He told his audience not to spend more than five minutes speaking to one person, allowing them to meet a selection of people.

Public speaking comes first in the list of people’s biggest fears, Fallon said. So asking yourself why you are doing a presentation and what you hope to achieve by it will improve your skills and confidence.

“Give your audience what they want at the same time as getting what you want”, he said, and when it comes to body language, “never forget your audience.”

Budding businessmen and women wouldn’t make the mistake of blending into the background either: “It’s far better to appeal to a small percentage than to try and hit everybody and hit nothing,” Fallon said.

The audience were advised that the easiest way to discover their customers’ “needs wants and desires” is to ask them. He went on to emphasise the importance of PR, saying: “It’s free! Press releases are a good way to build yourself up.”

“People always say that mistakes should be made in order to learn valuable lessons, but better yet, learn from other people’s mistakes,” said Fallon.

Moving on to talk about advertising, Fallon began by explaining that, on average, we see over 3,700 adverts every day: “So the worst mistake to make is to have a boring advert that’s just the same as every other advert.”

Fallon spoke about the 80/20 rule. “Things always fall into the 80/20 split. Usually, 80% of profits come from 20% of customers, so appeal to the 20% rather than the 80% that have already been aimed at. If you do the exact opposite of competition, you won’t hit everyone but those you do reach, you’ll have a bigger impact on,” he said.

Finally, his top piece of advice for students who want to start their own business: “Before you get too excited about an idea, no matter how passionate you are about it, you need to make certain that there’s a market for it. Be sure that people are willing and able to buy your product.”

2 Responses to Pants Man gives students a lesson in business

  1. Gina Davies says:

    Hey guys,

    Really glad you liked Pants Man, if you want to know more about events like this, including an upcoming opportunity to step infront of our Lincoln Dragon’s, then visit http://www.deviatelincoln.co.uk and sign up to our newsletter. You and your idea could win up to £5000 worth of cash and support.

  2. Sara Shah says:

    I think Phillip is incredibly rude about Sir Alan Sugar! He’s only just starting out so slating off someone who’s already successful is a huge down fall in my opinion. Everyone has the right to have an opinion about someone and something but Phillip claims Sir Alan Sugar hasn’t done anything successful in the last 25 years. The Apprentice alone has been successful the past 5 years. And you would think he would say better as his 15 minute fame started from him taking part in the television show.