By John Corban
When it comes to growing a business and succeeding, billionaire Richard Branson is a guy we listen to. He founded the Virgin Group in the 1970’s, which today controls more than 400 companies in many diverse sectors, from travel to telecommunications, health to banking, and music to leisure.
Below are some of Branson’s tips for growing a business.
Plan for the long-term
“Setting some milestones for you and your team to work towards will keep you motivated and driven. If you have a clear vision of where you would like your business to have expanded to after 10 years, plan how you can achieve this.” Branson recommends.
“There will be obstacles to growth you cannot foresee but having a roadmap in place from the get-go, will help build structure and focus on decision-making.”
The first impression is everything. So is the second
“The first impression you make on customers will probably be when you meet them. The first impression is extremely important”, says Branson, “but the second is just as important. The second time a customer contacts Virgin, it’s usually because they’re having problems with the product or service. How you present yourself and your brand in these situations says a lot about how your brand maintains good customer relationships and handles obstacles.”
You make your own luck
“Those people and businesses that are generally considered fortunate or luckier than others, are usually also the ones that are prepared to take the greatest risks, and by association, are also prepared to fall flat on their faces every so often. Anyone who wants to make the effort to work on their luck can, and will, seriously improve it.” Branson says.
How to work with your employees
“Once you know what your own motivations and aspirations are, talk to your employees and colleagues about theirs, if you haven’t already. Then structure their jobs in a way that allows them to tap into this energy, too. With you and your employees approaching your work with renewed energy and commitment, you’ll find that there’s little that you can’t accomplish together.”
“Hire your weaknesses, people who can fill in the
gaps and take the tasks off your plate
that you’re not strong in, or that you’re
too swamped to do yourself”
“The art of delegation is one of the key skills any entrepreneur must master. It’s impossible to do everything yourself, and it’s impossible to be good at everything you do. Hire your weaknesses, people who can fill in the gaps and take the tasks off your plate that you’re not strong in, or that you’re too swamped to do yourself.”, Branson writes. “Delegating also gives you time to spend with your family, which is really the most important thing of all,” he says.
Branson received some timeless advice when building Virgin Airlines from Sir Freddie Laker, a British airline tycoon: “Make sure you appear on the front page and not the back pages,” said Laker. “You are going to have to get out there and sell yourself. Make a fool of yourself, whatever it takes. Otherwise, you won’t survive.”
Branson always makes a point of traveling often and meeting as many people as he can. This, he says, is how he came by some of the best suggestions and ideas for his business.
When self-doubt occurs
“Whenever doubt starts to get the better of me, I find exercise really helps or spending time with family. This is often when my best ideas come to me as well,” he said.
Often underrated, Branson calls fun one of the most important ingredients in any successful business. “If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to try something else,” he writes.
Branson’s books and interviews are worth reading and listening to. Learning from one of the world’s inspirational entrepreneurs is always time well spent.
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