He is a high school drop-out turned self-made billionaire (yes, billionaire, not millionaire!). Branson owes his fortune to a number of Virgin-branded business, including the popular airline, Virgin America. He previously owned past conglomerate, Virgin Records and has newly founded others such as Virgin Galactic and Virgin Cruises.
The story of Branson is an extremely inspiring one and as the seventh richest citizen in the United Kingdom, there are a few things that us Career Girls can learn from him.
#1 – Start small
After dropping out of high school, Branson started his career by developing a magazine for students and selling advertisements to local businesses. One thing led to another and he began selling records to those who bought the magazine. This resulted in the development of his record label, which was the first of many business endeavors. Branson demonstrates that you don’t need a billion-dollar idea to create a billion dollar business.
#2 – Failure is relative
Although Branson has owned and operated over 100 businesses, he is not afraid if they don’t all succeed. Does Virgin Cola, Virgin Vodka, Virgin Vie cosmetics, Virgin Clothing or Virgin Cars ring any bells? Probably not since they never took off. But that didn’t stop Branson from creating many others companies that did.
#3 – Take risks
James Altucher quoted Branson writing,
“When most people think about taking a risk they associate it with negative connotations when really they should view it as a positive opportunity. Believe in yourself and back yourself to come out on top. Whether that means studying a course to enable a change of direction, taking up an entry level position on a career ladder you want to be a part of, or [crowdfunding your own startup] — you’ll never know if you don’t give it a try.”
So don’t think “If only I could…” think “Why can’t I…” As Nike says, “Just do it”, girl!
#4 – Think outside the box (or globe)
Branson has owned companies ranging from aviation to clothing to food and he continues to demonstrate his ingenuity. He recently launched Virgin Galactic to explore space and is selling tickets for a two-hour trip, which includes five minutes of being weightless. Celebrities such as Tom Hanks and Angelina Jolie have already paid their $250,000 per ticket to take advantage of this rare experience.
#5 – Do it yourself
Branson has been known for being one of the few successful business leaders who actually use social media accounts instead of delegating these tasks to others. This shows that he is just as concerned about communicating and engaging with his customers as he is about creating his business product. You can follow him on Twitter @richardbranson.
#6 – Identify weaknesses as potential strengths
Until recently, not many people knew that Branson struggled with dyslexia. Instead of using his condition as a scapegoat for failure, Branson embraces it. He wrote on his website, “I see my condition as a gift, not a disability. It has helped me learn the art of delegation, focus my skills, and work with incredible people.” Be sure to read what he had to say in a letter that he wrote back to a young girl with dyslexia.
#7 – Embrace diversity
The Los Angeles Times quoted Branson writing, “We love new challenges. . . . We love investing in new challenges where we think the rivals have Achilles heels.” Although he doesn’t have an exact business model, Branson ensures that his eclectic professional tastes are appealing. He doesn’t rule out possibilities and he adapts to change. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
#8 – Be a little crazy
He dressed up as spider man and scaled down a London skyscraper in order to raise money for a local hospital. He also descended on a New Year’s Eve-reminiscent ball when he opened the Virgin Megastore in New York City. Although he has been known to be rather outlandish, he demonstrates that success doesn’t always come from strategizing and crunching numbers, but it can be created by thinking outside of the box and being a little different.
#9 – Harness your inner child and have fun
This lesson is easy to forget because success is usually associated with hard work. When Branson isn’t busy constructing his next business venture, he can be found experiencing adventure. Branson has previously crossed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in a hot air balloon and he is the oldest person to kite surf the English Channel (just to name a few).
#10 – Be kind by giving back
Branson created the non-profit foundation, Virgin Unite, in order to combat CO2 emissions. He also pledged to donate all profits from Virgin Transportation for the next ten years in order to promote the “go green” initiative. So far he had donated $3 billion! And if that wasn’t enough, he generated the Virgin Green Fund to support technology aimed at renewing energy. Branson demonstrates that caring really is sharing.
#11 – Don’t forget to relax
When Branson isn’t busy expanding his empire, he lives on Necker Island, one of the British Virgin Islands, where he bought his home in 1978 for $180,000. Positivity, creativity and achievement are the results of hard work and relaxation. So, allow time for mental recharge.
For more on Branson, be sure to watch his TED Talk to find out more about what life is like at 30,000- feet.