small business owners

10 Lessons That Small Business Owners Can Learn from Sir Richard Branson

“We’re all virgins to business.”

Boom. A brainstorming episode turned into a successful business naming session.

That’s how Sir Richard Branson named his business endeavor while it was still in its early stages. An employee randomly remarked that they were all newbies to business.

The word left an imprint, and the caterpillar Virgin grew to become a butterfly encompassing more than 400 ventures around it.

The Virgin group of industries focuses more on the quality of services provided than the quantity, possibly the secret of its success.

However, there are a lot of lessons that all and sundry including small business owners can learn from Sir Branson. He credits passion, fun, and a lot more ingredients when inquired about the recipe for success.

So, let’s tune into an inspiration session and see what we can learn as small business owners from Sir Richard Branson:

1. Your work orbits around passion

“A passionate belief in your business and personal objectives can make all the difference between success and failure. If you aren’t proud of what you’re doing, why should anybody else be?”

Passion has a habit of wearing sequin jackets that don’t falter in catching attention. So, when you nurture a business based on your passion, you exude enthusiasm that, in turn, attracts people.

Not to mention, passion fuels your progress. And, you need the fuel to keep the gears rolling without any system glitches. Curious researchers have also wondered about the authenticity of this common mantra of following your passion.

Not so surprisingly, they’ve concluded the same – passion is the key to entrepreneurial progress.

2. All that work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

“Fun is one of the most important — and underrated — ingredients in any successful venture. If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to call it quits and try something else.”

Lots of us dive straight into business waters, riding along its uncertain waves. However, consistent swimming/work burns our productivity reserves without us even realizing it.

Taking time off, punching in breaks into your work schedule, and vacationing are some ways to oil your engines to keep functioning smoothly. Evidence from a study conducted by the firm Ernst & Young drives the same conclusion.

The findings suggest that the year-end performance upped by 8% for every additional 10 hours of vacation. More research indicates that taking time off allows you to sleep better and alleviates stress as well.

3. Rules are made to be broken

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to break the rules when attempting to give wings to your business. Moreover, you can’t expect that if you follow a certain formula, you’d be on your way to success.

That’s not how the business realm thrives. Ventures bloom on trial and error. Something that worked for someone else may not work for you. A case in point is Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb.

He made over 10,000 attempts to invent the bulb. So, as a small business owner, tweaking and improvising your plans over and over will only help you improve the results.

4. Failures are not the end of the world

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.”

Failure and business setbacks can be disheartening. Your heart sinks and keeps journeying to the bottom of an abyss with hope leaving the room at the same time.

However, running a business requires you to be strong-minded. Instead of focusing on the failures, pay attention to what you’ve learned from the experience and blend the lesson learned into your future work.

For instance, Arianna Huffington’s work was rejected by 36 publishers before it finally found a home in a publication house. Similarly, when Huffington started the Huffington Post, she got caught in a net of negative reviews and poor quality allegations.

Therefore, the drill is simple – plan, execute, fail, learn, and repeat. Once you get a practical taste of things instead of just a theoretical one, you’d be better able to comprehend the nuts and bolts of your business.

5. Small business owners need to grow wings

“Whatever your goal is you will never succeed unless you let go of your fears and fly.”

Fear of failure or jumping out of your comfort zone can be hard to give up. However, calculated risks are part and parcel of every stage of life. Your business works the same way.

It’s not a dessert served on a golden platter. It’s a new dish that you come up with after several attempts at baking and burning the batter to crisp – lots of waste, extensive hard work, and some smoke maybe.

Take Sir Richard Branson himself. He didn’t let his fear engulf him. Branson had a hard time at school because of his dyslexia. However, he didn’t let that hold him back when he started work on his ventures.

6. Opportunities are countless

“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.”

If an opportunity comes along, stares deep into your eyes, raises your hope by several notches, and decides to leave – you’ve all the right to grieve. However, be done with the grief with a few cans of Coca-Cola and move on.

More opportunities are lined up. They only haven’t taken off their invisibility cloak yet. And while we’re at it, did you know that the world’s wealthiest, Bill Gates, stepped into the entrepreneurial zone with his venture Traf-O-Data?

It was an early version of big data that didn’t get any recognition. In fact, it met failure smack in the face. However, he didn’t pack his bags and go into hiding. Bill Gates looked for more opportunities.

7. Life is a roller coaster of learning

“My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long university education that I never had – every day I’m learning something new.”

Life teaches lessons at every step except that it doesn’t wear a dean’s gown.

So, instead of resisting life’s lessons, try to learn them. Not to forget, learn as much as you can on a daily basis. Read an informative article, success stories, or a book on customer services.

It’s only a matter of time before your mind will subconsciously start incorporating what you learn into your business plans.

8. Practical is better than theoretical  

“I am prepared to try anything once.”

What works for one, may not work for you or vice versa. So, the world is a giant lab of business experiments, either going ‘boom’ or ‘gloom.’

You have to be prepared to take such experimental steps for getting a satisfying outcome. Before Oprah Winfrey came to be known as the “Queen of Daytime Talk TV,” she had seen tons of downs including being fired from her position as a reporter.

Similarly, Walt Disney was told that he lacked creativity. Starting from contributing cartoon drawings to his school paper, Disney ended up getting an Oscar for creating Mickey Mouse – he tried everything to get to that position.

9. Money won’t get you anywhere

Well, not really. Money can take you to Paris for sure.

“Above all, you want to create something you are proud of. That’s always been my philosophy of business. I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive, then I believe you are better off doing nothing.”

Changing your mindset from making money to doing something for yourself or any other such philosophy can help you drive your business to the zenith.

Your customers can sniff your values when earning bucks is the focus. This paints a poor picture on their mind – you rank taking their money over the service or product that you provide.

Consequently, earning customer loyalty plummets, which is not good for any venture’s survival. Therefore, shift your focal point to something more positive.

10. Keep your business message clear

“It is vitally important to present a clear, concise plan that investors can easily understand and repeat to their own people. In the first meeting, avoid overly complicated, numbers-laden presentations.”

While networking or introducing your business to potential customers, keep your message clear and to-the-point. Complicating the message with wishy-washy language will leave an unclear message.

An unclear message doesn’t leave a memorable imprint. Therefore, keep your pitches clear and memorable.

Take home message

There’s a lot to learn from Sir Richard Branson. A quick recap – keep learning, fuel your dreams with passion, have a clear business message, and try anything without the fear of failure.

What’s more, failure is just another lesson learned. As a bonus point, let’s sum-up with Branson’s advice of dreaming big. In his book, Losing My Virginity, he highlights:

“Because I sometimes think in life you’ve got to dream big by setting yourself seemingly impossible challenges. You then have to catch up with them. You can make what people believe is impossible possible if you set big enough targets”

Who else is an inspiration for you? I’d love to hear. Tweet me @inkandcopy.

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9 thoughts on “10 Lessons That Small Business Owners Can Learn from Sir Richard Branson”

  1. This is a good article and I’d agree that after reading Losing my Virginity and Screw it! Let’s do it!, my life has never been the same again. Though I worked for him for few years, nothing made sense. Not after reading his books. Elizabeth Gilbert, Paulo Coelho, Jen Sincero and Tim Grover are now giving me the inspiration I need.

  2. I must admit, I had to look up who Richard Branson was (lol). Fear of failure is probably the biggest setback for myself. He seems like a really well rounded guy; someone that isn’t solely focused on numbers but the quality of the products he puts into the world. Not to mention everything is born out of a passion and not money-making motive. This was a really refreshing and inspiring read! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Thank you for reading, Rachel.:) Haha, that’s fine, happens to the best of us. There’s some entrepreneur or personality or even a celebrity who is SO famous out there yet we’ve never heard of him/them in our lives.

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