Masters of Scale – Reid Hoffman: Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson
Successful daredevils aren’t really winging it, even if it looks that way from the outside. They have a method. No one knows it like Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. Sir Richard has been willing to take death-defying entrepreneurial leaps again and again into new markets and industries as one of the most prolific and successful founders ever.
You can’t help but marvel at his bias toward action—his eagerness to ask “What if?” and then follow up. He shares how you too can learn to take the right leaps at the right moments to generate outsized opportunities.
Asking ‘What if?’
- Successful entrepreneurs take calculated risks by preparing extensively and embracing the unknown. Adopt a “screw it, let’s do it” mentality and ask “What if?” and “Why not?” to keep innovating.
- To succeed as an entrepreneur, ask “What if?” and “Why not?”, delegate tasks, and focus on the bigger picture with the help of a strong team.
- Taking risks and approaching things with vitality and playfulness can lead to success, regardless of industry or product.
The things that make a great leader
- Taking risks and embracing challenges can lead to success in business, as seen in Richard Branson’s venture into the airline industry. Don’t be discouraged by criticism; utilize your strengths to make a difference.
- Attention to detail, commitment to improvement, prioritizing safety, and hiring passionate staff can result in positive changes that disrupt the industry and catch public attention.
- Keeping customers loyal is vital to business success, even in the face of tough competition. Bold and daring moves can help, but ultimately, it’s the loyalty of your customers that will keep your business thriving.
The great thing about Virgin is because we’ve been involved in so many different kinds of businesses. One can pull together a whole eclectic group of people who are superb before they even start with a new company. But then also bring in one or two wizened souls to steer the ship.
The keys to success
- Differentiation is crucial for success in business, and without it, a product may not survive against established competitors.
- Pursuing daring ideas and identifying consumer demand can lead to success, even in the face of aggressive competition. Bringing people’s dreams to reality can make a company stand out.
- Investing in a dream that brings people’s aspirations to reality is the key to success.
By diversifying the Virgin brand and delegating responsibility to a great team, Sir Richard Branson was able to ensure the survival of all businesses during the pandemic.
The importance of customer loyalty for business survival
The loyalty of your customers is what keeps your business going, even in the face of tough competition. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin company faced dirty tricks campaigns from British Airways, including spying on journalists and switching Virgin passengers to their own flights.
Branson had to sell his record company to protect jobs in both the record company and the airline, but Virgin survived thanks to the loyalty of their customers.
Branson’s refusal to stop asking “What if?” and “Why not?” led him to take on British Airways, but it was also his love for fun and audacious publicity stunts that endeared Virgin to the public. Going all in on daring notions is important, but so is ensuring customer loyalty.