Inspirational entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Galactic, and over 400 other Virgin-branded enterprises has been successful in business since age 16. Because of this, his improvisatory phrases are oft-quoted in money and lifestyle publications much to the delight of those tired of hearing billionaires give standard answers to standard questions.
Branson’s absolute love of life is apparent in the way he runs his businesses and is in large part responsible for his success. From what I consider his top ten quotes, perhaps you can be inspired to implement some zest into your own business and personal life.
Famous Quotes by Sir Richard Branson
1. “A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.”
Plain and simple, if you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you are going to have a hard time doing it well and being successful. Sure, you can head to work and sit at a desk job all day that you don’t really like, but will you ever own the business itself or be in control of day-to-day decisions? Probably not. Branson is so successful not just because he works hard and is lucky, but because he has fun and enjoys his work.
2. “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”
If everyone only followed a single set of rules, nothing new would ever be implemented. For example, Google changed the online search game by thinking differently about how it could be done. Jeffrey Hollender started Seventh Generation, which helped bring environmentally friendly household products to the masses when they were previously only for true “greenies.”
If you stick to the status quo and don’t look outside the norm for inspiration, you limit yourself as an individual and in your business. Doing something different than the way it was done in the past can be a catalyst for success. And don’t let failure discourage you – it’s bound to happen when you’re trying and perfecting ingenuity.
3. “Ridiculous yachts, private planes, and big limousines won’t make people enjoy life more, and it sends out terrible messages to the people who work for them. It would be so much better if that money was spent in Africa – and it’s about getting a balance.”
Branson enjoys his money for sure, and he should – he earned it after all. But he also realizes that it’s not necessarily the money that is making him happy; it’s a combination of attitude, experience, and the responsible use of money. To have wealth and only flaunt it doesn’t lead to bliss, contrary to what those without it often think.
4. “As much as you need a strong personality to build a business from scratch, you also must understand the art of delegation. I have to be good at helping people run the individual businesses, and I have to be willing to step back. The company must be set up so it can continue without me.”
Success on Branson’s level doesn’t come solely from his own work ethic. He hires the right people and then lets them do their thing. Try seeing the company or business you are in as bigger than yourself and trust that other people are concerned about the bottom line as you are. When everyone works together towards the same goal, the payoff in the end can be greater for all.
5. “Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.”
If you close yourself off to new opportunities out of ignorance or fear, you might miss your next big idea or concept. When one project you start doesn’t work out, guess what – there are always plenty more to try. So get cracking!
6. “My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long university education that I never had – every day I’m learning something new.”
When you aren’t learning, you aren’t growing. And without growth, it’s hard to succeed in the long-term. Branson keeps trying something new; some projects fail and some go on to be huge achievements. Who knew that in 2011 we would see the beginning of space flight for tourists through Virgin Galactic?
7. “What does the name Virgin mean? We are a company that likes to take on the giants. In too many businesses, these giants have had things their own way. We are going to have fun competing with them.”
By competing with the existing players in any given field, Branson is trying to change the way companies do business. Tired industries get used to doing things their way and regularly fail to improvise, innovate, and challenge themselves to do better. Branson competes with these businesses by offering consumers innovation and improvement – and he is succeeding in getting them to pay for it.
8. “To be successful, you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running, and if you have a good team around you and more than a fair share of luck, you might make something happen. But you certainly can’t guarantee it just by following someone else’s formula.”
Forge your own path, as they say, and keep pushing until you get to your end goal. Imagine if Bill Gates didn’t want to push computers into the mainstream, but instead just wanted to build mainframe closet-sized machines for the government to use? We would have gotten the laptop computer eventually, but it may have taken a lot longer. Rare is the person who creates something huge by following in someone else’s footsteps; Branson most certainly did not.
9. “Above all, you want to create something you are proud of. That’s always been my philosophy of business. I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive, then I believe you are better off doing nothing.”
Again, we see that money cannot (and should not) be the exclusive catalyst for entering into any business or field of endeavor. At my last corporate job, I made a lot of money. But it was causing me undue health issues and stress, and I wasn’t at all happy there. While the money is nowhere near as good now, I am much happier being self-employed doing something I enjoy everyday. Plus, I am proud of what I am doing.
10. “I am prepared to try anything once.”
How else can you know if something will or will not work? I really love this simple quote and I try to keep it in mind every single day. After all, what have you got to lose?