Simon Cowell lacks the X Factor for SMEs

A survey says just 5% of businesses would hire the talent show mogul as a consultant. Is it something to do with his manners?

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 06 Jan 2012
With only three sleeps to go until Christmas, the cup of news isn’t exactly running over at the moment. Thank Jesus, Mary and Joseph, then (and all the donkeys and Wise Men too), for IFF Research, which has sent the following over to us, presumably hot off the presses: according to the findings of its SME Omnibus, just 5% of small business owners would choose Simon Cowell to be a consultant to their business. We know. Hold the front page, etc.

Beard enthusiast Richard Branson raised few eyebrows by topping the list of the most desirable celebrity business consultant, with 34% opting for him – while 30% said they’d prefer the no-nonsense ministrations of professional finger pointer Lord Alan Sugar. Below them came Mary ‘Queen of Shops’ Portas, whose recent attempts to save the high street don’t seem to have garnered much love from business owners (she only got 5% of the vote), and Karren Brady who with another 5% of votes, is clearly getting into her role as Sugar’s sidekick on the Apprentice. Bringing up the rear were Cowell, who obviously doesn’t have the X Factor when it comes to popularity contests, and ‘city superwoman’ Nicola Horlick, with just 1%.

What’s slightly depressing is that just 20% of business owners picked women – even though Brady (for example) became the youngest-ever managing director of a UK plc at the age of just 23, while, having juggled six children and the running of an investment fund, Horlick could certainly show Branson a thing or two when it comes to multi-tasking. Sugar, on the other hand, has managed to build a reputation on crushing the hopes of young business wannabes. Which suggests, as IFF MD Mark Speed points out, that ‘there is more to be done if women are to be on an equal footing with men’.

Then again, it could just be the idea of being in close quarters with Branson’s beard that’s providing the attraction. These days, a man with facial hair that well-trimmed is all too hard to find…

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