If someone were to say to you “Name a famous entrepreneur”, who would spring to mind? For most, the name Sir Richard Branson and the word “entrepreneur” are synonymous.
Sir Richard Branson was born in 1950, in Surrey. Growing up, he struggled with dyslexia and found school difficult, leading him to drop out at the age of 16. At this time, he started a student magazine for which he needed funding, so in 1969, he had the idea to start a mail order record company. The company did well, and Branson quickly found himself having to set up his own shop on Oxford Street in London.
In 1972, the successful store had generated enough revenue to allow for the creation of Virgin Records label. With their first smash hit artist, Mike Oldfield, in 1973 the Virgin success story really began.
The Virgin Group empire that Branson has created now boasts more than 200 companies throughout more than 30 countries. It encompasses everything from television services, an airline and even planned space travel.
So, to what does Sir Richard Branson owe his rise to entrepreneurial stardom? Well, Richard Branson’s skills in business stem from these 4 lessons.
1. Don’t overlook an opportunity
A good idea can strike you anywhere. Branson believes that most of the best ideas can be born out of frustration or are inspired by the lack of a service that needs to be provided. He admits that this is true of Virgin Airlines. Whilst waiting for a flight from Puerto Rico to the British Virgin Islands, the airline cancelled the flight with no warning leaving over 20 people stranded. So, as enterprising as ever, Branson made some enquiries at the airport, managed to hire a plane and approached the stranded passengers offering a cheap flight to their destination. This was, of course, a success, and the next day Virgin contacted Boeing enquiring about buying a second-hand plane. Virgin Airlines was born.
2. “Protect the downside”
According to Branson, when starting a business or making important decisions, protecting the downside is of the utmost importance. You need to think through all of the ‘what ifs’ and see if the pros outweigh the cons. Sometimes you may talk yourself out of something, and that’s OK. Trust your instincts if you think the risks are genuinely too high. However, if you think that it’s worth the risk, have courage and go for it. Branson’s success is proof that you don’t need to make a large investment to start a business. His start-up fund was a mere £300, and he is now worth a whopping estimated £3.6 billion.
3. Don’t give up
When you’re just starting up, there is a fine line between success and failure. Confidence is key and you’ve got to have it to do well. Branson assures those looking to follow in his footsteps that in the early days, it’s easy to fail but you need to pick yourself back up and try again. It’s all a learning curve, and once you finally get where you want to be, you can go anywhere. It is Branson’s belief that once you can run one business, you can run any business. Yes, there will be sceptics, but don’t let them distract you, make it your aim to prove them wrong.
4. People are key
To be successful, you need to surround yourself with the right people. Remember that the word company can simply be defined as ‘a group of people’. Without the people, there is no business. Branson believes that it is key to be a good leader. Listen to people, motivate and praise them, look for the best in them and they will flourish.
You’re only human, you can’t do everything, so there’s nothing wrong with delegating tasks. Branson’s advice is to constantly look for people who are better than you in certain areas, so that you can trust them to get the job done. Don’t overlook what other people can offer – everybody has something to teach you, so make sure you listen. Most importantly, whether it is staff, contacts or customers, treat people well and with fairness and they will always come back for more.
Sir Richard Branson appears to be a true master of business, he is a great role model and his advice is valuable not only to aspiring entrepreneurs, but to anyone who wants to be successful in their life and career.