“My wife loved George Clooney’s suggestion”, said Richard Branson and smiled.
Richard, as you know, is one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time. His Virgin Group today consist of 200 companies with 50,000 employees in more than 30 countries. Their combined revenue in 2008 was around 17 billion dollars. Not bad for a man who started out selling Six Pistols records at car boot sales in the 70s. Richard’s advice to future entrepreneurs is, point one excluded, different from the usual advice about how to succeed as in building up a company:
1) Take calculated risks.”You have to really believe in what you are doing because if you start a project believing that it may fail, nine times out of ten it will”. “Cautious people don’t live life to the full”, Richard says and adds that he always tries to figure out what could go wrong and try to balance that out.
2) Challenge the big players “Make jokes at the big established companies expense and use humour and sex in your marketing. Launch yourself as a Robin Hood in ways that make the big players look silly”. How many of you would actually dare to do so? It’s not enough that the idea appeals to you, would you actually have the guts to go ahead with what he advices?
3) Failure doesn’t exist Act swiftly when something goes wrong. “Our capacity to promptly adapt to changes have enabled us to overcome most mistakes”, Richard says. “You have to quickly take responsibility for a venture that’s not working, change direction or wind it up”.
4) Be casual and easy going. Have fun and make sure your colleagues have as much fun as you do. Develop equanimity.
5) Don’t regret – move on. “People spend to much time thinking about what mistakes they have made instead of using their time and energy to start new projects. Failures are useful tools that enable success”.
6) Don’t employ yes sayers. “Find people who dare to stick out and have a mind of their own. They are much more value for money”.
7) Be a live advertisement for your company. Be a bit of a clown, have fun or you will not succeed. That’s the advise Richard Branson was given when he started Virgin Airlines with no money to spend on marketing. Someone added that he should make sure his name was on the front page of newspapers and not in the adverts.
Psychologists claim Richard Branson has the F factor – fame, fortune and fun. Many people want to identify with him, not least since he’s regarded as down to earth, honest and simple. He is a person who does things his own way and not how “they teach you at Harvard business school”. Richard Branson is actually a high school drop out. His way of doing things goes against all the advice about how to become an entrepreneur you can find. So who’s right and who’s wrong? None of the people advising you how to succeed as an entrepreneur are as successful as Richard Branson is. Need I say more?
Have you got what it takes to go your own way as an entrepreneur, build up your company and succeed? Do you employ people you cannot control that have a mind of their own? Could you turn yourself into a live advertisement? What new and interesting fields have you found where you could become a new Richard Branson? Are you, after reading Richard Branson’s advice, ready to trade places with him? Or will you opt for a less challenging way of succeeding?