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Richard Branson's Top Tips for Starting a Business

Updated on April 10, 2018

A Passion

In a recent post on LinkedIn, Richard Branson, the high-flying business man and founder of the successful Virgin Group, revealed his five top tips for starting a business. None of these tips are unfamiliar concepts, but it is good to hear it from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

Keep it Simple

He, correctly, points out that you don't need to reinvent the wheel, but you will need a unique selling point, which makes you stand out from other similar businesses. That can be anything from being available after conventional working ours to a better product. The ideal is to find that gap in the market that has been overlooked until now or maybe opened up because of changes in society and different needs.

It can be anything from creating an amazing dessert from your grandmother's old and trusted recipe to something as big as a home delivery service.

An example of such a company with a unique selling point is the online grocery store Ocado. They don't have a physical store so they can obviously keep the prices down. For those who need more luxury articles they stock a wide range of Waitrose products as well as food products and wine from several other countries. As a French, Italian or South African person living in the UK, you have the opportunity to buy products from your country together with your weekly groceries. They also deliver until 11 at night, which makes it very convenient for people working late. With these several unique selling points they have established themselves as a giant in the online shopping market regardless of the already saturated market.

Listen More than you Talk

It is interesting that he starts his post with this specific tip. We live in a world where it seems as if those who shouts the loudest get the most attention. Politicians are living proof of this. However, the lost art of really listening can be the determining factor in the success of your business. Learn from those who have already achieved business success and take all advice on board, regardless where it comes from. Don't dictate, collaborate

It never fails to amaze me how in each and every episode of The Apprentice contestants do exactly the opposite. The project manager and the group come up with an idea and then send out a group to do market research. Every time they just ignore the information from the market research team and continue with the original idea. It seems as if the idea of being project manager gives them such an inflated feeling of superiority that they just can't accept that the market can disagree with their brilliant idea.

It constantly happens on Dragon's Den as well. Dragon's Den consists of 4 or 5 of the UK's top millionaires who all started their businesses from scratch. People will then present their business ideas to them and if they like it they can invest in the business. Some of these would be entrepreneurs refuse to listen to the good advice they get and proclaim that they will make the business work even without the investment. Even you as the audience can see there is no chance, but people get so absorbed in their ideas that common sense flies out of the window.

Learn from those who have been there and know the pitfalls and listen to the people who are ultimately going to buy your product or service.

A Small Bussiness

Take Pride in Your Work

One of the biggest dangers to any business is employees who are only there to collect a salary. Unless, you as the employer, do something to acknowledge their efforts and listen to their concerns, they would not care much about the business. Be fair, be ethical and be proud of your business.

Off course it is about making money, but if making money turns you into somebody you don't like anymore and nobody else likes, you might need to think again. One of the best pieces of advice for anybody and especially for business owners comes from Stephen Covey's book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He explains how everything should always be a win-win situation. Win-win between the business owner and his clients, but also win-win between the business owner and his employees and suppliers.

You don't need to always compromise, but you can negotiate and communicate until all parties feel they benefit from the deal. Sometimes you might have to compromise a bit and other times the other party might have to compromise.

Stay true to who you are and be proud of what you are doing.

A Very Successful Bussiness

Have Fun, Success Will Follow

Even though this nearly sounds to easy to be true, it has definite merits. If you can't make a success from something you enjoy, it is going to be very difficult to do it with something you don't enjoy. If you don't like getting your hands dirty, it won't matter how lucrative a plumbing business might sound, you will hate every minute of it.

There are various success stories of people who turned their hobbies into million dollar business ventures. As a student Steve Jobs tinkered with gadgets. His tinkering led to one of the most successful businesses of the 21st century.

Megan Jane's love of photography became her very successful photography business and Deborah Moebes uses her love of sewing to teach sewing classes online.

Some people love their professions, but not necessarily the restrictions of their jobs. With possibilities such as online teaching, blogging and online shops, many teachers, journalists and retailers take to the Internet to establish their businesses.

The sky can really be the limit for the passionate.

Rip it Up and Start Again

Branson's philosophy is reasonably straightforward. If your first attempt is not successful, try again. Most entrepreneurs make mistakes along the way. See it as a learning process and take what you have learnt to ensure you do it correctly the next time around.

Many highly successful entrepreneurs had to exactly do that. Henry Ford had to start over five times before he got it right. Macy's is one of the most successfully department stores in New York. R.H. Macy who started the store, didn't have it that easy at first. He failed seven times before he hit it big.

It is hard to believe that Bill Gated dropped out of Harvard and that his first business venture was a dismal failure, but that is exactly what happened to him.

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor who claimed that Disney lacked imagination and had no good ideas.

What all these entrepreneurs had in common was perseverance. To start over is hard, to start over seven times seems nearly impossible, but today nobody can argue against the success of Macy's.

Working 9 to 5

Quotes on Business by Richard Branson

“Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to keep things simple.”

“I don’t think of work as work and play as play. It’s all living.”

“Engage your emotions at work. Your instincts and emotions are there to help you.”

“The time to go into a new business is when it’s badly run by others.”

“There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions – in a way that serves the world and you.”

Richard Branson: Advice for Entrepeneurs

Own Business or Not

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    • Annette Hendley profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Hendley 

      2 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Yes it is. Thanks for your comment.

    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 

      2 years ago from Port Elizabeth

      Some good advice to follow.

    • Annette Hendley profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Hendley 

      7 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      It is in the end about not giving up and every time you learn valuable lessons. Thanks for your comment.

    • SpaceShanty profile image


      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      I have started about four businesses and some have done better than others. The trick is to keep trying until something works and remember than very successful people have usually failed a few times before they did well.

    • Annette Hendley profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Hendley 

      7 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Blogging takes some serious determination. I started a few. Deleted and started again. I am also working on a new blogging idea, but I don't have the time at them moment. Good luck and don't give up.

    • LauraD093 profile image

      Laura Tykarski 

      7 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      I had commented on this hub earlier but let me add that it is going to come in useful. I have blog-blues and may just back-burner the whole thing. These tips though gave given me some valid tips to maybe incorporate into my original idea. Voted up and interesting.

    • Annette Hendley profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Hendley 

      7 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      I thought it was worth sharing. He obviously understands business and he makes it sound so simple.

    • prospectboy profile image

      Bradrick H. 

      7 years ago from Texas

      This is definitely a great hub Annette. It's funny reading this, especially after I recall coming across these tips online recently. These tips by Branson are very motivating and encouraging. You definitely done a great job in sharing the very important ones. Kudos to you ma'am. Voted up, rated useful and awesome.

    • Annette Hendley profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Hendley 

      7 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Thanks Lisa. We always joke about that at school. We tell the children to listen, but we all have to constantly work on our listening skills. It is one of the most valuable skills ever.

    • LisaMarie724 profile image

      Lisa Stover 

      7 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      Great hub! My favorite tip is listen more than you talk. Starting a business is a lot of work and you can learn a lot from those among you who have done it. But, if you're not willing to listen than how can you expect to learn?

    • Annette Hendley profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Hendley 

      7 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Thanks Ruth, I am glad you enjoyed it.

    • profile image

      Ruth Lanham 

      7 years ago

      Really good hub Annette. Voted up and interesting.

    • Annette Hendley profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Hendley 

      7 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Thanks Laura. I agree. What irritate me the most is the telemarketers trying to sell their mobile phones. It doesn't help to tell them you already have one you are happy with. They don't seem to understand that at all. The worse was when the service provider I have a contract with, called me with an offer a month or two after I renewed my contract with them. I made such a scene, they have never called again.

    • LauraD093 profile image

      Laura Tykarski 

      7 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      Voted up and useful on this hub Annette-although simple and straightforward I love this simple business model. As a consumer #1 is really applicable-my pet peeve is when I am looking for a particular service and "they" i.e. the business tells me what I want!

    • Annette Hendley profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Hendley 

      7 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Good point. You only truly fail once you give up. I think it is also necessary to continuously assess your business as you go along to make sure you stay on the right track and make changes.

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 

      7 years ago

      Well Thomas Edison said he hadn't failed, he had just found 10 000 ways that didn't work.! Glad he carried on! Voted up, interesting and useful.


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