Richard Branson is someone who has always fascinated me. I love his story. I love what he’s done, how he’s done it and how he continues to do it. Following are some of the notes I took while reading one of his books, Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur.
There’s a lot of great stuff in this book. Highly recommend reading it and then reading it again. Make your own notes and occasionally refer back to them or come back here and read these notes again. There are a number of great things that you’ll be reminded of and will help spark new ideas to grow yourself and your business.
- Avoid taking on someone else’s legacy
- If you are in the mood to buy a new business – wait. It can take a long time to change a business culture. Are you sure you wouldn’t be better off starting one from scratch?
- In business, someone who can stay cool and calm under pressure is an asset.
- There’s no rule book. the past is the past. We can’t preserve it
- small, compact companies are, generally better run
- Put people together in a way that will have them bouncing ideas off each other, befriending each other, and taking care of each other, and suddenly they are coming to you, not with gripes and problems, but with solutions and great ideas.
- Given the right conditions, exceptional people will reveal themselves
- There’s another thing about teams: they don’t last forever
- When the business lets you, shake things up a little
- 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
- A self-disciplined employee will have the patience to conduct routine business routinely, the talent to respond exceptionally to exceptional circumstances, and the wisdom to know the difference between the two
- you can’t dictate attitudes from on high. All you can do is hire the right people and empower them to sort things out as they happen.
- If someone has paid you for something, and it goes wrong, being cagey or defensive will kill you stone dead
- If someone has a lousy experience at your hands, they will warn people
- If you are able to sort out your customers’ problems better than they expected, then they will be your loyal friend for life
- Befriending one’s enemy is a good rule for business – and life
- A brand always means something, and ultimately you can control the meaning of your brand only through what you deliver to customers
- Turnover can be huge, but it is the profit margin that matters
- I learned another key fact about running a business: try to have a plan B
- Publicity is absolutely critical. You have to get your brand out and about
- A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a full-page ad, and a damn sight cheaper
- it is sometimes better to follow a pioneer than be a pioneer
- Maintaining a consistent tone in the face of rapid growth was a key requirement
- You can’t restructure culture. If you’ve burnt people, if you’ve killed their enthusiasm or commitment, then changing office space or putting a few more dollars in their pocket will not unduly affect the culture that exists
- Whatever your brand stands for, you have to deliver on the promise. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver, and deliver everything you promise. That’s the only way you’ll ever control your brand. And beware: brands always mean something. If you don’t define what the brand means, a competitor will.
- Don’t waste your precious time. Phone calls and emails can eat your day. Don’t let them. No one will think less of you for getting to the point.
- I advise every owner of a company to keep a notebook and jot down the things that need doing
- You must never forget that every change ushers in unforeseen consequences
- Success one day does not give you a free lunch every day thereafter
- We’ve started, so we’ll finish
- Never imagine that you are immune from big events. Make your small decisions in the light of the bigger picture, and you are at least pointing your craft in the right direction to ride out any storm
- One business mantra remains embedded in my brain – protect the downside
- Remember to communicate, and pay attention to detail
- Don’t be afraid of changing your bank if they are unreasonable. Banks are not for life. But don’t put it off till the last minute
- Out of recession, new ideas and new business often grow
- If you are a late entrant to the 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
- When you’re first thinking through an idea, it’s important not to get bogged down in complexity
- You can never go too far wrong by thinking like a customer who’s new to the business
- It’s easy – too easy, in fact – to relinquish your responsibility for your idea to experts. This is almost always a mistake, because experts are only experts in their field. They’re not experts in your idea. At this stage, the only person qualified to assess your idea is you
- You need to flesh out your own ideas. You need to do your own research. You need to take responsibility for how you plan to turn an idea into action
- Keep a cool head. You’re in business to deliver change, and if you succeed, the chances that no one will get hurt are virtually zero. This is the rough and tumble of business. Be sportsmanlike, play to win, and stay friends with people wherever possible. If you do fall out with someone, ring them a year later and take them out to dinner. Befriend your enemies.
- Being a well funded company puts you at a tremendous advantage
Learning from Mistakes and Setbacks
- Never do anything that means you can’t sleep at night
- 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.
- I think it is counterproductive to be ruthless. You’ve got to treat people as you would yourself, or better
- You definitely should get the best people around you when confronted with a serious problem. Don’t try to deal with it all by yourself. Don’t be afraid to seek help and advice.
- If you drive down the retail price fast enough when you are the dominant player, you never allow anyone else to catch up because they can’t make enough money. It requires the dominant player to be brave, because it can mean cannibalizing your existing sales by dropping the retail price. (i.e. Apple and the iPod)
- Protect your reputation. Don’t 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.
- The best, most solid way out of a crisis in a changing market is through experiment and adaption.
- Innovation is what you get wen 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.
- You need to understand the challenges to your enterprise and face up to them. Equally, you have to resist the temptation to overreact at the first sign of trouble.
- Every business plan should include: “This company will have lots and lots of parties and social get-togethers.”
- The creator’s job is to find someone with expertise who understands the vision and is prepared to follow the path.
- If you can keep the business relatively small, people will know each other within the organisation and feel like part of the team.
- Decent leadership is about explaining clearly and unemotionally why a decision has been taken.
- Failure is not giving things a go in the first place.
- Only a fool never changes his mind.
- DON’T BRING ME YOUR PROBLEMS – BRING ME THE SOLUTIONS
- It is possible to turn a profit while making the world a better place.
- What can you do to make a difference?
- One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never! – Sir Winston Churchill
- 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.