If you don’t already know of Richard Branson (although i’m sure that you must) he is an extremely successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the founder of the Virgin Group which now has over 400 companies in massively diverse fields from mobile phones to space travel to a successful cola chain in Bangladesh. In his book Business Stripped Bare he shows you the essence of what built his company and what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.
Work With The ‘Virgin Type’
Richard tells us how important people truly are to a business because you cannot build a business on your own, you need people. But you need the right people, Richard calls them the ‘Virgin type’. These are people how are passionate, driven and hardworking, they definitely live to work and not the other way round. The people that you choose to employ or go into business with need to be good at setting goals and reaching them. The character of a person is far more important than qualifications (although they can of course be an indication of developed intelligence and hard work) because they are not an indication of weather they will work well in your business. Jobs can be learned, but it is extremely hard to teach someone how to have the right personality and the right business savvy. Studies have been done on how the people you surround yourself with effect who you are; surround yourself with unfit people and your more likely to be unfit, surround yourself with lazy people and you are more likely to be lazy. So take this into account when choosing people to work with, choose successful people with huge futures and you will also become successful.
How A Brand Can Be The Success Of Your Business
One of the most notable things about Virgin is their brand. It is their brand that has allowed them to have success in so many different fields, it immediately shows the customer what to expect when they approach any Virgin company. Richard claims that the success of his brand was down to his consistency with both the products and services they provide. They constantly focus on how to please the customer continually, if you can brand your company in this way then you will get huge amounts of repeat purchase with a high level of customer satisfaction. According to Richard you should build a philosophy first and then comes a business, in this way you assure that customers will enjoy the experience they get when dealing with you and will want to come back again. Using Virgin as an example they always try to make the consumer have fun and bring laugh in wherever they can, for example when Richard found out many of his customers on virgin atlantic were stealing their salt and peeper pots because of their great design he had printed on the bottom ‘swiped from virgin atlantic’. This would of course bought a smile to many customers face and i’m sure they flew on virgin atlantic again. Integrate you philosophy for life into every part of your business and customers will not be able to help enjoying their experience. Just make sure your philosophy a good one.
Always Keep The Customer In Mind
But having a good intention in business is only the first step: you need to find a way to deliver this in a profitable way to the customer. First of get rid of the misconception of ‘good business practice’, and the fact of always acting with profit in mind. Although Richard believes acting in a profitable way is necessary to any business he understands the importance of acting with the customer in mind. Every single decision made in a business should come down to, what is going to advance the consumers experience? When Richard first set up virgin records their whole marketing strategy was to provide records at an extremely low price so that they outcompeted everyone else. Their profit margins were extremely low and they often made no profit, but he was acting with what the customer wanted in mind. You may consider a business that is not making a profit an unsuccessful one yet thousands of people were buying from him and he continued on this philosophy throughout his business. He now has 8 companies that are worth over a billion dollars so it would appear he stumbled upon something very important. However acting with the customer in mind is easier said than done as many companies fail to realise what it is the customer really wants. Finding out takes research, time and money but the investment is well worth it and the money will come back to you a hundred times. Richard says you have to ‘get up from behind your desk and go see where people and ideas lead you’. This is very true, you are not going to find out what your target market wants if you spend all your time in an office arranging the lowest price for a certain raw material or whatever it is your doing. Eventually you are going to forget that it is the customer that you want to please. So if you are going to invest in something invest in what the consumer wants and not what your business wants.
Use Your Mistakes To Your Advantage
Every business is going to make mistakes, that much is for certain. But it is also certain that if you learn from them you will never make them a second time. Richard Branson once made a mistake which he considers one of the worst of his life; he found out you didn’t have to pay purchase tax on products intended for export. He decided he should make use of that and so he claimed that the records he was buying were being exported to France. He even transported them their and back on the ferry, of course he kept it secret that they were coming back. Inevitably he was caught and ended up spending the night in jail. His parents had to remortgage their house to pay the £60,000 he needed not to get a criminal record. This was 3x the amount that he had saved by doing the scam. But you can bet that he learnt from that and he says he now stays well within the law. You should follow this principle in all of your life as mistakes are going to arise, that is not a problem, it’s when you start making those mistakes over and over again that it becomes a problem. Learn from your mistakes.
The Importance Of Innovation
Innovation it what has bought about all of the success in the world in some form or another. It is the people who dare to dream big like Richard Branson that achieve big things, things that previously seemed impossible. 100 years ago no-one would ever have dreamed that their would be a man made contraption that could transport 3 people to the edge of space, 100km above the Earths surface, in comfort but Richard Branson now has a plane that can do just that. But innovation is a tool that should be used right down to the smallest of things in a company. There are always ways to reduce costs, improve efficiency and improve customer experience, they just need to be found. Your job in life should be to find these innovations that improve your business and the world. Spend every minute of the day analysing everything around you. Constantly ask yourself: Can this be done more effectively? Does that look as good as it could? Can I make that more customer friendly? Because there are always ways to improve the world, find them and you will become rich.
Don’t Have Irrational Fears
If you want to lead then you have to (according to Richard Branson) be able to tell apparent and real danger apart. That means having the confidence to take your business through bad situations without giving up at the first hurdle but also realising when the route your on will only bring disaster. You can’t just blindly follow orders as people can be wrong, you haver tho make informed decisions and sometimes just trust your gut. Richard learnt this the hard way when it was suggested that he jump of the fantasy tower in Las Vegas connected to a wire in black tie. When he was standing on the roof he noticed the wind was blowing very hard and the wire was very close to the building, he considered backing out but he was convinced into doing it. Long story short he ended up hanging dazed at the bottom of the wire having collided with the building twice on the way down. Theres an important lesson here, don’t blindly trust the people who appear to know what they are doing, they can be wrong and you can end up paying for it. Make informed decisions and trust them.
Learn To Use Your Skills For The Benefit Of Humanity
However Richard does not believe that making a good business is all that is required to live a successful and fulfilled life. He is dedicated to advancing the lives of people all around the world and believes that entrepreneurship is the way forward. He supports entrepreneurs with new ideas all around the world and is dedicated to helping with the HIV condition in South Africa and providing green energy for the world particularly in the form of biofuels. Richard is committed to solving many of the worlds largest issues in a profitable and sustainable way through the use of his business knowledge.
7 Point Summary
– Surround yourself with successful, hard working and likeminded people.
– Provide consistent and exceptional customer service based on a solid philosophy.
– Find out what the customer wants and incorporate it into every decision your business makes.
– Learn from your mistakes, don’t make the same one twice
– Innovate to improve your business, your life and the lives of the people around you
– Make informed decisions and trust your self.
– Find ways to enhance the world in a profitable and sustainable way, better the lives of others.
If you want to read the whole book then you can get it HERE
If this summary has inspired you to read the book yourself then you can find it here: Business Stripped Bare – Richard Branson