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Richard Branson's Top Tips for Starting a Business
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.”