4 of the Best Business Insights from Virgin Founder, Sir Richard Branson
As entrepreneurs and business managers, it is helpful to learn from the most successful among us, especially in turbulent times, and Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin empire, is no exception. He founded the first business, which became Virgin Records, at the age of 20 and has gone on to be the only entrepreneur to create eight separate billion-dollar businesses in eight different industries.
Overall, Branson has created a winning business ethos that can be defined by not being afraid of trying new things and having fun. Throughout countless interviews and writings, there are many consistent, recurrent themes in his approach to and advice on business. Below are some of his most useful insights.
1. Do What You Love & Have Fun Doing It
In uncertain times, it is natural to look for a stable opportunity, whether that is a position in a company or pursuing a specific business idea. However, it is imperative to ensure you are doing something you enjoy. In Branson’s essay, “My Letter to 10-Year-Old Me,” he states, “As you grow older you will realize just how important it is to do what you love and love what you do. Don’t waste your time doing things that don’t excite you.”
According to Branson, “Fun is one of the most important — and underrated — ingredients in any successful venture.” One of the most important reasons to love what you do and have fun doing it, especially if you are a leader, is that attitudes are contagious and set the tone and culture for the entire business. “If you genuinely love and believe in what you do, others will take notice and share your enthusiasm.”
2. Making Money Should Never Be Your Only Objective
Often, part of doing what you love is also doing something with a purpose beyond profits. Branson has often been cited for giving advice that money should never be your sole intention of going into business. In his words, “It’s a common misconception that money is every entrepreneur’s metric for success. It’s not, and nor should it be.” Further, “just remember, whatever you do and wherever you go, make sure you place purpose at the heart of your words and actions.”
In Branson’s mind, conducting business with a purpose is a powerful element in creating a better world. He wrote in “My Letter to 50-Year-Old Me” that “it’s up to all of us to create the world we want to live in, and we can if governments, businesses, and individuals work together.” Specifically, he believes that entrepreneurship can, and should, be a central force for good. “Yes, the human race is currently facing so many challenges, but the spirit of entrepreneurship is flourishing, and doing great things to work towards creating a world where all people and the planet thrive.”
3. Take Risks, Don’t Give Up, and Don’t Fear Failure, It Can Be Your Best Teacher
In some ways, the business environment is more challenging than ever, and things are changing rapidly. If you’re already in business, you may be struggling but there are new opportunities presenting themselves every day. Branson, always the optimist, writes, “…the future will be so bright, if you continue to look for opportunities where others see challenges.”
You may need to adapt or pivot but one thing is sure, the quickest route to failure is giving up. Branson often speaks about not fearing failure but rather embracing it. “You won’t always succeed. In fact, you will fail time and time again. That’s ok though because failure is an inevitable part of every personal and entrepreneurial journey.”
Part of not fearing failure is being open to taking risks. After all, one of Branson’s favorite sayings about risk is: “The brave may not live forever—but the cautious do not live at all!” Taking calculated risks can lead to great rewards. This go-getter attitude is one of the keys to Richard’s ultimate success.
4. Learn to Delegate, Trust Others to Do Their Job, and Treat Employees Well
When running a business, refusing to delegate tasks or micromanaging can severely limit your financial potential. Delegating tasks, especially those that are outside of your core skills, is a key component to a successful business. Branson is very open about the things he is not good at and believes that delegating is a major component of his success.
According to Branson, it’s not enough just to delegate. You need to fully trust and empower others to do their jobs and handle the tasks you have given to them. This creates engaged, dedicated employees. It’s no secret that customers are a key to business success but Branson believes that starts by taking care of your employees. If you take care of employees, they will take care of the customers. In his words, “This may sound like a truism, but it has to be said: It takes an engaged, motivated and committed workforce to deliver a first-class product or service and build a successful, sustainable enterprise.”
This is the second in a series of advice from top business minds. Check out the first article, “5 Lessons from Jeff Bezos That are Even More Relevant Today”