Richard Branson on why learning the art of survival is vital to success
Britain’s best-loved entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson, has always stood out as a man of many contradictions. A ruthless and uncompromising businessman, on the one hand, and an eccentric leader who parties with his staff, on the other. Not to mention, an outspoken environmentalist, who also happens to part-own an airline.
His success has been built on his refusal to acknowledge any kind of limitations, and that is part of both his appeal, and his mystery.
Born in south London, Richard is the ultimate example of a self-made man, but he is not one to deny his weaknesses, admitting that his distinct lack of academic prowess – provoked by learning difficulties and undiagnosed dyslexia – was a cause for self-concern during his formative years. However, those difficulties helped to breed his internal entrepreneurial streak.
‘The best way to be an entrepreneur is to get out there in the jungle learning the hard way, learning from your mistakes, learning from your successes, and learning the art of survival,’ emphasises Richard. ‘Most entrepreneurs in the UK left school before the age of 16, and without many qualifications. Not that I’m encouraging anyone to do that, but real life versus education – it’s the age old argument.’
THE KEY TO SUCCESS
For Richard the formula for being successful is relatively simple; find a gap in the market and fill it. In the early days of Virgin Records he travelled a lot, and Virgin Airlines was born from his thoughts about how to make flying a better experience. His inspirational ideas have marked him out as a visionary, whose spirit is never defeated.
‘I always think that for something to be successful, it has to be an obvious labour of love for those involved. I am passionate about all my projects, because if I’m not, why should anyone else be?’
Read more: How to choose a career?
1. Pay attention to detail
‘It sounds like something your mum would tell you but attention to detail is really important and too many companies forget that.’
2. Don’t let age hold you back
‘If you have to make a fool of yourself, make a fool of yourself, but make sure you end up on the front pages!’
3. Learn to delegate
‘Finding people who are better than you to do the things that you’re not good at, frees you up to do the things you are good at.’
4. Love what you do…
‘…and have a lot of fun doing it.’
5. Never give up
‘Anybody can make themselves a success – you just need the idea. And perseverance.’