Since Branson founded Virgin in 1970, the company has grown from a small record outlet to a global powerhouse. In this video he shares lessons for entrepreneurs to reach business success.
“I think that the most important thing about running a company, is to remember all the time what a company is: a company is simply a group of people. As a leader of people, you have to be a great listener, you have to be a great motivator, you have to be very good at praising and looking for the best in people. People are no different from flowers, if you water flowers they flourish, if you praise people they flourish, and that’s a critical attribute of a leader.
There is a very very thin dividing line between success and failure. I’ve only just stayed at the right side of that dividing line, for instance just after we had a record company, I decided to set up an airline. Our bank went into into complete panic attack, and when I came back from the inaugural flight of Virgin Atlantic’s flight from London to New York, I found the bank manager sitting on my doorstep, informing me that they were going to close Virgin down the next Monday.
I had two days to pay them off the money that they had loaned us. I spent the weekend ringing around the world, asking the distributors of our music if they could give us a temporary loan to get us through the following week, which they were good enough to do. By the end of the week, we had actually managed to find a bank that was willing to lend us 30 times the the overdraft facility and we survived.
The moral of that story is actually don’t think of your bank has somebody that you are beholden to. You need to be willing to step up and move your banks in the same way that you should step up and move your doctor on occasions.
Virgin does work very well without me, I used myself to build the brand but I also learnt the art of delegation. I have a fantastic team of people who run the Virgin companies. I give them a lot of freedom to run the companies as if they were their own companies, I give them the freedom to make mistakes.
The Virgin brand is now one of the top 20 brands in the world and I know it will continue to flourish without me.”
Richard Branson is an English business magnate, investor, author and philanthropist. He founded the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies.