Business Lessons Learned from Richard Branson

February 18, 2014 | Valerie Wong

Richard Branson is among the most respected entrepreneurs. He is known for actively searching problems to solve, seeing the challenge as his road to success. He's a creator who loves to establish many different businesses under his wing, as evidenced by his long, successful, 40-year career as an entrepreneur wherein he developed many different and unique brands with his boundless creativity. Along his way to success, he has given quite a lot of advice and recommendations to his peers, his fans, and his contemporaries by speech and through living by example. He is particularly fond of talking about hiring people, managing staff, and running a business.

How to Start a Business

If you want to start a business, then you should always challenge the status quo in order to be successful. Why? Because following the leader limits your success, and true mavericks are those who are able to create paradigm shifts that enable them to dictate how their businesses are run and how the market should respond to their own offerings, spurred by excitement and curiosity. Encourage your staff to challenge that establishment yourself instead of always playing it safe and, as a result, ending up as second banana to the mavericks who first established the current status quo in the first place.

Look at things not only through your point of view as a businessman, but also to how customers view things. Take what happened to Virgin Money—a British bank—as an example. Instead of looking like a normal bank, they've made their branches more accommodating with their comfortable sitting, newspapers, and Wi-Fi, thus eliminating teller windows, lines, and customer dissatisfaction. They were able to address a long-unaddressed customer complaint, and they came out the better for it.

Always Stand Out and Create Value by Loving Your Work

Aside from being able to stand out and whatnot, it's imperative for businesses to learn how to create different things that will stand out from the rest of the market, especially if it's a heavily congested and arguably oversaturated one. A restaurant should have more food choices, a toy company should have a myriad of toys not found in other competitors such that they'd be hard-pressed to rip the designs off, and so forth. Variety is good, especially quality variety that ensures multiple potential best sellers and whatnot. Being the good kind of different will ensure that you're going to stand out in a positive way.

Branson started Virgin Atlantic, partly because British Airways had unsatisfying service. Instead of merely complaining about things, he identified what was wrong with British Airways as a customer and created a more client-friendly service that truly established Virgin Atlantic's true mettle and brand identity. True mavericks and entrepreneurs are those that are able to establish themselves with passion. Without enthusiasm for your work, you'll end up with halfhearted efforts and your customers will be able to tell how unenthusiastic you are. You should have motivation that extends way beyond monetary gain; barring that, get people in charge that love the industry and the field as a whole.

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