Richard Branson went from being a dyslexic kid who performed badly in school to a British business magnate with a net worth of 4.6 billion. There was a time when Richard Branson started his record business from the crypt of a church – and now he is the fourth richest citizen of the UK.
Like many entrepreneurs, Richard Branson loves creating things. He sees problems in the world and provides solutions. But unlike others, he has established many different businesses. In fact, in his 40+ years as an entrepreneur, he has developed over 100 brands.
Here are the 10 success lessons from Richard Branson – “Self-made Billionaire” for entrepreneurs,
1. Create value in the world
Branson says that he starts a business only if it will improve people’s lives. He was unhappy with the customer service he was getting from British Airways, so he started a new airline, Virgin Atlantic, which is focused around the customer.
Building something you’re passionate about is important as well. If Branson hadn’t been passionate about building an airline, he wouldn’t have put so much time into getting the staff, buying the aircraft, and working hard to turn it into a viable business.
2. Investors bring more than just money
When examining investors, Branson suggests that you ask yourself, “Will this person or group give us the space and time we need to build a great business?” A “dictatorial financial partner” can ruin the spirit and enthusiasm of entrepreneurs, so ensure that your investor is someone who will let you run your company without getting in the way or questioning every decision you make.
Remember that it’s not all about the money and that the person you are bringing on is also important. They carry more than just a checkbook.
3. It’s all about the details
Branson says entrepreneurs should have a notebook with them at all times and write down what they notice about their business. When Branson flies on Virgin, he takes notes on everything from the food to the carpets. He advises others to do the same, and focus on getting everything right, all the time.
“I often compare creating a business to creating a painting. You’ve got a blank canvas, you’re filling in that canvas and you’re trying to get every single little detail right.”
4. Skip the powerpoint and have a conversation
Branson doesn’t care for PowerPoint. He said, “I believe in conversation and eye contact.” This isn’t surprising considering how well Branson connects with people. Avoiding PowerPoint is similar to the practice at Amazon, where, in place of PowerPoint, they write six page reports.
Ultimately, PowerPoint presentations are aimed to provoke conversation and only touch on the highlights, not to be a crutch for the speaker who only reads the slides.
5. Get away from the job
It’s important to spend time away from work to be with family and friends. Branson says, “Spending time away from work is important to helping you maintain perspective on the challenges you face, and thus to the future of your company.”
Not only that, but time off can also improve performance. So take some time off, you’ll be better because of it.
6. Keep things fun
Branson advises companies to do activities outside of the office. Companies need to bring a sense of play to the office.
This will pay off in the long term as employees are more likely to remain loyal to the company. Since they enjoy their job, they’re also likely to perform better. If people feel trapped and stuck in their job, performance will suffer. And if that happens, company performance suffers and the company won’t live up to its potential.
7. Create a culture of opportunity
Let people run with their ideas. Let people know that they can move up within the company. Once they see this, they’ll work that much harder to master their current job so they will be considered for promotion or further development.
If employees constantly see people from the outside taking top jobs in the company, they’ll become discouraged and work will suffer. You’re also more likely to have high turnover. Why work at a place if you’ll always have the same amount of responsibility and never be promoted?
8. Great employees like to learn
Hire people who want to learn. Branson says, “The day you stop learning is the day you stop living.” When you hire people who want to learn, you are getting a competitive edge over your competition. You’ll look forward to trying fresh approaches and ideas on how to do things differently.
9. Get lots of people involved in brainstorming
Everyone in the organization should get involved in brainstorming discussions. Branson says that the quietest person in the room may have the best ideas, so it’s important to include them in discussions and brainstorming sessions. Bringing in people from other departments also may spark new and fresh ideas.
10. Learn by doing
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”
Branson started a magazine without ever having taken a journalism class and he became one of the world’s most successful businessmen without ever having taken a business class.
Don’t wait until you’re qualified to start doing what you want with your life. Just do it. You’ll make a ton of mistakes, but that’s the fastest way to learn.