It is only ever too easy to start so optimistically in a business venture, only to be discouraged and brought down hard by the realities of fierce competition, consumer’s vigilance for value for money, and the ever-changing needs and wants of customers. But as with everything else in life, there’s nothing that a healthy dose of motivation and tonnes of hard work cannot overcome. Just ask Sir Richard Branson.
For someone with more than 200 ventures and corporations under his baby, the Virgin group of companies, and a net worth of $5.1 billion, one would never guess (unless you’ve read his biography) that Richard Branson struggled with dyslexia, dropped out of high school at age 16, started a youth magazine, which sold $8,000 worth of advertisements on its first release, opened a record shop at 22 years old, expanded to a recording studio that earned him billions, only to sell it off to prevent bankruptcy by 1992.
Branson is a self-made billionaire with a quirky personality, and a heart for philanthropy and taste for adventure. Taking a glance at his life story, one would wonder what kind of secret formula he lived his life by to obtain such success. From his published works and interviews, here are some amazingly simple and basic life and business philosophies that we often overlook in our daily working lives:
Just do it. The biggest struggles and the largest amount of stress, hesitation and paranoia, for any business, or in making life decisions, is right before you jump in, so to speak. While planning and strategising is essential for any new venture, more often than not, most people bail out even before starting a business because of the fear of failing. Sure, risks always have two sides—sucess and failure—but as cliché as it may sound, you’ll never know until you try.
Live with no regrets. As disheartening as it may be when you don’t succeed in your business, dwelling on your past will not only impede your improvement, it will also kill the morale of your team, as well as your family. Dust it off, and move on. When a door closes, a window opens. Nobody said anything about not stepping on the sill.
You CAN Branson mentioned in his book, Screw It, Let’s Do It, he wrote, “I don’t believe that that little word ‘can’t’ should stop you.” No one else can give you that final push to take the plunge but you. All the self-help books, business development seminars, and countless brainstorming sessions will come to nothing if you don’t find the confidence within yourself to pursue your dreams. To quote Sir Richard again, “If you don’t have the right experience to reach your goal, look for another way in. Keep your eyes open. Look and learn.”
Learn to survive Branson was once left alone by his own mother to find his way home miles away from their house—and he was a mere 5 years old then! You have to realise that in order to get on top of the competition and stay up there, you will need to survive the ups and downs of the cut-throat world of business. No competing brand will hold your hand and spill all their business secrets to you—you will have to find those yourself, and rid yourself of the hesitation to talk to people, be with people, and work with people.
Love learning. Being inquisitive, and having an insatiable thirst for new knowledge is why Branson’s brand is all over the place. From publication, to music, to aviation, to entertainment, to space odysseys, he has dipped a finger into it and didn’t stop until his whole arm is inside the jar. Being an expert in your chosen field or industry means knowing and understanding the necessity of continued education. With today’s lightning fast technology changes, and more and more discoveries in different aspects of whichever business you are in, you will have to make sure that the others are keeping up with you, and not the other way around.
Put Others First No one succeeds in any business alone. One person may always be the face of the company, or that one name that clients and competition always associates with your business, but any successful business owner knows that behind every great company is great teamwork. Always respect your employees, foster good working relationships in your office, and live by example—by maintaining good work ethics, and never stepping on anyone to progress in your business.