No doubt he’s been hugely successful, but his new celebrity status and grouchy image might just have gone to his head.

The former Labour Government Enterprise Champion and spokesman for small business let his grumpy, miserable persona spill over into his new year message to business owners in an article in the Telegraph on 6th January.

His article started;

“My message to those who run a small business is that at this time of year it’s good to have a good look in the mirror and rethink your strategy. May I suggest that whatever plans you are thinking of, don’t – repeat don’t – rely upon Government or banks or anybody else to give you ideas.”

I’d agree… at least to a degree. This is the time to reflect, take stock of what worked and what didn’t, although this should be happening as much in real time as possible, not at the end of one year and start of another. There are plenty of people that can offer sound and valuable advice to business owners, this is not the time to go it alone.

He went on;

“Consider why you started your business. I assume it was that you have some experience or expertise in your field, and that is the big point – don’t rely upon anyone else. It’s going to be you who defines the way forward.”

Here’s where we fall out (and yes, I have an axe to grind… I offer people help and support with their sales and marketing). Most people I meet that own their own business, are or at least were, passionate about their particular product, service or area of expertise. But they don’t all posses the natural ‘Lord Sugar’ business acumen. They don’t know how to market themselves and find more clients. They want and need help.

He continued…

“I am sick and tired of hearing people asking what to do, going to networking meetings and seminars expecting to glean some gems of wisdom. These events are money-making exercises and benefit one party and one party only: the organiser. They have become an escape for people to justify sitting around wasting a day bullshitting with each other while they should be working. You will learn nothing other than that there are another load of people in the same boat as you”.

I agree there are some awful network meetings, and I’ve been to them… the “Monday Moaning” meetings as I call them. A complete waste of time. On the other hand there are some exceptionally good groups and events.

When you’re a grumpy, miserable know all – who wants to network with you? You are better off going it alone. But I find his comments and generalisations ignorant and dangerous. If a network group or organiser of events such as myself fails to deliver value – the people stop coming and the money stops flowing, simple.

There are people that will attend events to prevent getting on with the real work, no doubt. However, there are many more that attend an event, get fired up with new ideas and motivation and when they put these new ideas into action they see the benefits and reap the rewards.

For the record – I agree with much of what the wise old grouch has to say about self funding a business and not relying on the Government and banks for hand outs and support.

Lord Sugar… perhaps you should be fired!