Recently, global sentiment towards entrepreneurs and businessmen/women has become jealous and antagonistic. This antagonism towards business owners is not as strong towards the struggling business owner, but more towards those individuals who build successful businesses.
One target of this growing sentiment is Sir Richard Branson.
While he lives on his own island, hangs out with supermodels and actors, and gives billions to charities, he wasn’t born into such wealth and fame.
You probably wouldn’t have guessed that he would become the 4th richest citizen of the United Kingdom when he started his first business at 16 – a newsletter called “The Student.” About four years later, he started mail-order album sales in two years opened a record store.
Since starting the simple newsletter at 16, Richard Branson has created an international empire with successful businesses in music, airlines, mobile phones, banking, alternative fuels, space tourism, and hundreds of other investments.
So what is it about Richard Branson that separates him from every other person who starts a business?
Find a Need and Fill It – “There is no point in starting your own business unless you do it out of a sense of frustration.” His newsletter hit a segment of the market that no one was providing. His success in music was selling records (first by mail-order and then in his own chain of stores) was being able to sell records at a deeply discounted price and still bring a profit. He signed talented bands that no one else wanted to take a chance on.
Start Small – “A business can be started with very little money.” Sir Richard’s business seed-money came from the proceeds from an unclaimed necklace that his mother found. His record stores had very little “upper management” as he gave low-level employees responsibility and created a culture of competition for success.
Dream Big – “My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them … from the perspective of wanting to live life to the full, I felt that I had to attempt it.” Who would think that a 21yr old could start a record label? Or an airline that would compete with some of the biggest airlines in the world? How about starting a space tourism company?
Leverage Yourself – “Find somebody else to run your business on a day-to-day basis.” Mr. Branson runs his entire empire from his personal island in the Caribbean. He has been recruiting others to run the business from the very beginning.
Be prepared – “Protect against the worst eventualities. Make sure you know what they are.” What is the absolute worst-case scenario? Do you have the resources to survive it?