By: Richard Branson
The celebrated entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group offers his tips for starting out.
By Richard Branson | September 9, 2010
I am often asked if I have found a secret – or at least a consistent answer – to successfully building businesses over my career.
So I’ve spent some time thinking about what characterizes so many of Virgin’s successful ventures and, importantly, what went wrong when we did not get it right. Reflecting across 40 years I have come up with five “secrets.”
No. 1: Enjoy What You Are Doing
Because starting a business is a huge amount of hard work, requiring a great deal of time, you had better enjoy it. When I started Virgin from a basement flat in West London, I did not set out to build a business empire. I set out to create something I enjoyed that would pay the bills.
No. 2: Create Something That Stands Out.
Whether you have a product, a service or a brand, it is not easy to start a company and to survive and thrive in the modern world. In fact, you’ve got to do something radically different to make a mark today.
Look at the most successful businesses of the past 20 years. Microsoft, Google or Apple.
No. 3: Create Something That Everybody Who Works for You is Really Proud of.
Businesses generally consist of a group of people, and they are your biggest assets.
No. 4: Be a Good Leader.
As a leader you have to be a really good listener. You need to know your own mind but there is no point in imposing your views on others without some debate. No one has a monopoly on good ideas or good advice.
Get out there, listen to people, draw people out and learn from them. As a leader you’ve also got to be extremely good at praising people. Never openly criticize people; never lose your temper, and always lavish praise on your colleagues for a job well done.
No. 5: Be Visible.
A good leader does not get stuck behind a desk. I’ve never worked in an office – I’ve always worked from home – but I get out and about, meeting people. It seems I am traveling all the time but I always have a notebook in my back pocket to jot down questions, concerns or good ideas.