I once stumbled upon Richard Branson’s No.1 Sunday Times Best Selling: Business Stripped Bare: The adventure of a Global Entrepreneur. I just couldn’t get off it until I had read the last page. Richard Branson, an entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies, gives a candid inside stories of Virgin greatest achievements, as well as some of its setbacks, achievements and offers invaluable advices to entrepreneurs, and would be useful to entrepreneurs in the book.
While reading, I took note of some powerful and inspiring points which I think would be worth sharing. Let’s have a look at them.
- “In business, risk is essential. Before you take a risk however, you have to understand that risk. You have to reduce that risk as far as possible. And you have to know in details what the world would look like if everything goes catastrophically wrong. I’m not saying ‘Don’t take huge risk’. Over the years, I have taken risk that could have severely damaged virgin. What I’m saying is this: They were calculated risk – risk I and people around me were willing to take, once we had taken everything into account.”
- “In an ideal business environment, everybody should have a rough idea of what everyone else is going through. People should be free to talk. Banter is essential. Anonymous, over-formal, regimented surroundings produce mediocre results.”
- “Across the whole Virgin Group, we encourage people to take ownership of the issues that they confront in their lives. In a service-led industry especially, this kind of attitude pays huge dividends. I think if people are properly and regularly recognised for their initiatives, then the business would flourish. Why? Because it’s their business; an extension of their personality. They have a stake in its success.”
- “Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airline in the US once said: ‘It’s difficult to change someone’s attitude – so hire attitude and train for skill.’ I have talked about what I look out for in people, but other’s one key quality I haven’t mentioned yet, and this might surprise some people: it’s discipline.”
- “The best manager is someone who cares about people and who is genuinely interested and wants to bring out the best in them.”
- “A manager should basically be a considerate person who is as interested in the switchboard operator and the person who cleans the lavatories as he or she is in the fellow managers.”
- “If someone has paid you for something, and it goes wrong, being cagey or defensive will kill you stone dead. You will never see that customer again, nor their family, nor their friends. If someone has a lousy experience at your hands, they will warn people. The knock-on effect of this destroys business. If, on the other hand, you are able to sort out your customers’ problems better than they expected, then they will be your loyal friend for life.”
- “We carefully research the Achilles heels of different global industries, and only when we feel we can potentially turn an industry on its head, and fulfill our key role as customer’s champion, do we move in on it.”
- “Brands exist as a means to communicate what to expect from product and services – not to highlight the familiarity of likeness between different product and services.”
- “You see, what gets me up in the morning is the customer and the idea of giving the customer a good time.”
- “A brand should reflect what you can do. You have to deliver faultlessly all the time, whatever your brand promises, so it is better to make your offering sound witty and innovative than to pretend you are more than you are.”
- “A brand’s meaning is acquired over time. Some meaning will be the product of serious discussion and years of directed and dedicated efforts. Some meaning will just stick to the brand whether you like it or not. Remember, a brand always mean something, and ultimately, you can control the meaning of your brand only through what you deliver to your customers.”
- “Publicity is absolutely crucial. You have to get you brand out and about, particularly if you are a customer oriented brand.”
- “A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a full page ad, and a damn sight chapter.”
- “I advise every owner of a company to keep a notebook and jot down the things that need doing.”
- “If you are running an airline, a restaurant, or any other kind of company, it’s the attention to detail that really defines a great business delivery.”
- “Communication and attention to detail can make your business run smoothly.
- Success one day does not give you free lunch everyday thereafter.”
- “Being the best is what really counts.”
- “Virgin success is primarily down to the consistent way it’s delivered on its brand proposition.”
- “Remember to communicate and pay attention to detail.”
- “Delivery is the moment where your good intentions meet the real world.”
- “If you are a late entrant in a market, you need to be radically different to win over customers.”
- “If you rip off the customer, then you will destroy the integrity of the brand.”
Learning from mistakes
- “You can’t protect yourself against the unexpected, so you need to keep your house in as good an order as you can. If disaster strikes, you don’t want to find yourself doing twelve things at once and misprioritising them in public. It’s vital, therefore, that you take control of your internal business risks – the ones you can influence.”
- “In business, as in life, there will always be external factors that are beyond your control…. But you must take measures to mitigate business risk…. Always, always, have a disaster protocol.”
- “There are some things in my business life that I regret – and I have made mistakes about people. One of my faults is that I have always been so focused on a business project or on an idea that I have been unable to appreciate what was going on in someone’s life right in front of my nose. I have tried to learn from this, taking extra time to listen.”
- “protect your reputation, but never be afraid of making mistakes.”
- “If you’re hurt, lick your wounds and get up again. If you’ve given it your absolute best, it’s time to move forward.”
- “Innovation can occur when the most elementary questions are asked and employees are given the resource and power to achieve the answers.”
- “The best, most solid way out of a crisis in a changing market is through experiment and adaption.”
- “Innovation is what you get when you capitalize on luck, when you get up from behind your desk and go and see where ideas and people lead you.”
Entrepreneurs and leadership
- “True leadership must include the ability to distinguish between real and apparent danger.”
- “Once you’ve been able to access the level of danger in any given situation, you must be able to honestly gauge your own strengths and weakness as a leader. You need to be able to recognize what you can do as an individual – and how you can inspire and motivate others individuals to cooperate willingly to get a job done.”
- “A poor leader can make life hell for so many people. Leadership is not about a person sitting at the top of the tree, making the decision and expecting everyone to do as they’re told.”
- “So here, it is important to stress that there is a fundamental difference between and entrepreneur and a manager. They are often contrasting people and it is crucial to recognize this. Although I am sure there are entrepreneurs who could make good managers, my advice would be: don’t try to do both.”
- “It is possible to turn a profit while making the world a better place”
- “What you do can make a difference.”
- “Don’t forget to listen.”
- “It is important to look for one’s strengths – to try to excel at what you’re good at.”
- What you’re bad at actually doesn’t interest people, and it certainly shouldn’t interest you.
- So don’t let your limits knock your self-confidence
- Success for me is whether you have created something that you can be really proud of.
You can get a copy of the book and get a full dose of Branson’s Business Stripped Bare.