5 business lessons to learn from industrialist Richard Branson

This high school dropout now runs over 200 businesses around the world. Here are some key learnings from this exponential entrepreneur. By Satyaki Sarkar

There are very few people in the world who do not know of or haven’t at least heard of entrepreneur, industrialist, adventurer, and philanthropist Richard Branson and his many exploits. However, very few know that he was a high school dropout and just 20 years old when he founded his company Virgin Group, and since then, through his incredible business acumen, foresight, and perseverance, made himself into one of the most famous business leaders in the world. From industrialists and political leaders to global magnates, he has influenced countless personalities, and built himself into a game changer. This success, however, was no stroke of luck or chance, but built on careful precision, hard work, and a constant hunger to improve himself.

1. Failures are the stepping-stones to success
In order to succeed, a leader must be willing to take risks, and throughout his career, Branson has demonstrated just that. He created a world record in 1987 and 1991, crossing the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in a hot-air balloon, something few would have dared to do. He was also the first to enter the space tourism industry by forming the Spaceship Company, and while more than 800 tickets were sold initially, many demanded refunds following the SpaceShipTwo crash in California’s Mojave Desert. He did not, however, let that stop him, but instead, let his failures ground him, looking at them as markers directing him in his journey to success.

2. Focus on your core values
Branson has expressed that in recent times several businesses have been moving away from their core ideals and objectives, and instead, started making an attempt to put up a show of success. Being a huge environmentalist, he co-founded the widely acclaimed non-profit initiative called the B Team, which is aimed at developing better ways of doing business, and ensuring the well being of people and the planet. Branson believes that success does not come by wearing expensive suits, or pleasing shareholders, but rather, by concentrating on one’s core values and ideals.

3. Challenge yourself constantly
In business, remaining stagnant is as good as giving up, and so Branson sets himself big, seemingly insurmountable challenges to overcome. In spite of being 66 years old, he regularly takes part in adventure sports and keeps himself in top shape through regular exercise. In order to make yourself and your business grow, you need to stop looking at what others are doing and comparing yourself to them, and instead figure out your own limits and push them further. By making yourself pursue and achieve impossible goals day in and day out, not only do you prepare yourself for everything that might come your way, but it also makes you grow, hones existing skills and helps you discover new strengths.

4. Have the courage to do what’s needed
Success only comes to those who are willing and able to do what nobody else is, even if that means going against the tide. Branson, through his long and successful career, has taken many business decisions that have baffled others, but in the end he’s always come out on top. It is not easy having the confidence and willpower to swim against the tide, but if you have the conviction and the belief to do so you will be one step closer to achieving your dreams.

5. Integrity and loyalty are irreplaceable in business
There will always be competition in business, and often competitors will use unfair means to beat you. But that doesn’t mean you do the same. In such situations Branson believes you should not only have a core team on board that is unwaveringly loyal to you, but also make sure to return that loyalty and integrity yourself. In a recent court case, it was revealed that a director of the company that had outbid Branson to run Britain’s lottery had offered him a bribe. But being the upstanding businessman that he is, he had immediately turned it down. Exercising honesty, principles, and ethics in business not only builds goodwill among your customers, but also your peers and competitors. 

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