From winning The Apprentice to running a bakery business with franchisees based across the country, we talks to Alana Spencer about her secret recipe for success
JF: How did you get to where you are today?
AS: I began my business at the age of 17 – it was originally named Narna’s, and we made handmade chocolates in my parent’s country kitchen and sold them to teachers and friends at school. A little while later I moved on to luxury traybakes and began travelling the UK selling them at farmers markets and food festivals. Fast-forward 10 years and after winning The Apprentice in 2016, the business has now franchised to over 70 brand ambassadors with a growing list of local and national stockists.
JF: What training and support have you received?
AS: My mum bought me a book on how to make your own chocolates and that’s pretty much the only training I had! Everything else was born from trial and error, a lot of practise, and hard work.
“Be passionate about what you do and don’t be afraid to adapt when it’s needed”
I was fortunate enough to have my dad and uncle advise with the business side of things and later on I had the support of Lord Sugar and his amazing team.
JF: What advice do you have for younger generations who’d perhaps never considered a career in franchising?
AS: The key is to know your brand and products. Be passionate about what you do and don’t be afraid to adapt when it’s needed. Franchising is an amazing way to get your products or services far and wide – being able to offer people their own business who’d have otherwise not known where to start is a humbling and exciting feeling.
JF: How would your colleagues, peers or mentors describe you?
AS: I imagine that the main word they’d use is determined! I have such a love and passion for my products and brand that I don’t often take no for an answer!
JF: What’s been your biggest professional achievement to date?
AS: I would have to say winning The Apprentice. I went on the show believing that I could win it because I believed in my business plan and the business I had built up before going on the show. However, when you’re actually there, it’s so much more challenging than you’d expect. I am proud that I stayed true to myself and it must have played in my favour.
Interview by James Fell