Richard Branson recently shared his answers to successfully building businesses in Entrepreneur Magazine.
These are his tips in his words.
No. 1: Enjoy What You Are Doing.
Starting a business is a huge amount of hard work, requiring a great deal of time, you had better enjoy it. For me, building a business is all about doing something to be proud of, bringing talented people together and creating something that’s going to make a real difference to other people’s lives. A businessman or businesswoman has to get every single little thing right when first setting up in business in order to succeed. However, unlike a work of art, the business is never finished. It constantly evolves.
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, for example, shook up a sector by doing something that hadn’t ever been done and by continually innovating. They are now among the dominant forces.
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. People flourish if they’re praised. Usually they don’t need to be told when they’ve done wrong because most of the time they know it.
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.
If I don’t write them down, I may remember only one the next day. By writing them down, I remember all 10. Of course, I try to make sure that we appoint managing directors who have the same philosophy. That way we can run a large group of companies in the same way a small business owner runs a family business – keeping it responsive and friendly.
When you’re building a business from scratch, the key word for many years is “survival.” It’s tough to survive. In the beginning you haven’t got the time or energy to worry about saving the world. You’ve just got to fight to make sure you can look after your bank manager and be able to pay the bills. Literally, your full concentration has to be on surviving. Obviously, if you don’t survive, just remember that most businesses fail and the best lessons are usually learned from failure. You must not get too dispirited. Just get back up and try again.