“I think that a lot of people do not have the courage to try to start a business. I’ve written a book called ‘screw it just do it’ and it basically is trying to say to people just give it a try as sometimes a very very small amount of money is all that’s needed to start a company.
My mother found a bracelet on the street and she hand it in to the police station and after three months the police sell it and you know that couple of hundred dollars was really critical at a critical time in the development of our business so…
give it a go and good luck with that one.”
“I need things to be simple for myself. Therefore Virgin, I think, when we launch a financial service company or a bank, we do not use jargon. Everything is very clear-cut, very simple. I think people have an affinity to the Virgin brand because we don’t talk above them or talk down to them…”
“I think the most important thing about running a company is to remember all the time what a company is. A company is simply a group of people and as a leader of people you have to be great listener, you have to be a great motivator. You have to be very good at praising and looking for the best in people. People are no different from flowers. If you water flowers they flourish, if you praise people they flourish. And that is a critical attribute of a leader.”
“I don’t actually think that the stereotype of a business person treading all over people to get to the top – generally speaking – works. I think if you treat people well, people will come back for more – and it’s a very small world. I actually think that the best way of becoming a successful business leader is dealing with people fairly and well. I like to think that’s how we run Virgin.”
“The next stage is to be a great delegator and not try to do everything yourself. Try to find people who are better than you all the time. Try to find people who are better than you to put you out of business effectively. Whatever you’re spending all your day doing, try to find someone who’s better than you to do that – to replace you at it – so that you can go off and think about the next big picture. An entrepreneur is not a manager. An entrepreneur is somebody who is great at conceiving ideas, starting ideas, building ideas, but then handing over to really good managers to manage the businesses. The moment you’ve got more than one business, you can’t be hands on doing everything.”
“If you have a learning disability, you become a very good delegator. Because you know what your weaknesses are and you know what your strengths are, and you make sure that you find great people to step in and deal with your weaknesses.
And actually, whether you are dyslexic or not, I think delegation is such an important thing for a good leader to be good at doing. Too many leaders want to cling onto everything themselves and do everything themselves and never let go. Therefore, they never grow a group of companies like Virgin.”
“I love learning. I’ve never actually thought I was starting a company. I just saw situations as I travelled in life where I felt I could improve on the way things were being done by other people. One of my favourite phrases is screw it, let’s do it. I’ve used that phrase a lot of times, and we just love going in and trying to shake up industries and do it better than it’s been done before.”
“There’s a very thin dividing line between success and failure when you start a business from scratch. If you don’t have enough money to pay the bills, you go the wrong side of that dividing line. If you can somehow get enough money to pay the bills, you stay the right side of that dividing line. I’ve always been running faster than perhaps I should and I have great difficulty saying no to things, so I keep taking on new things. We’ve just managed to stay the right side of that dividing line over the last fifty years in business. But equally, in those early days, when you’re starting a business without any financial backing, it’s easy to slip the wrong side. And in fact, most entrepreneurs do slip the wrong side. The important thing is then just to pick yourself up and start again. If it doesn’t work at that time, keep going until you do succeed and not to give up”
“I think the word business… it becomes a business, but what you’re doing is you’re painting a picture, you’re trying to create something to make a difference to other people’s lives. You have a blank canvas and you’re filling in every little bit of that canvas to get every single little detail right. If that canvas sings out to you at the end and it’s a beautiful picture, your business is going to be successful. If bits of the canvas are not quite right, your business may fail. So if you set out to change people’s live you’ve got to get every single little detail right. You’ve got to make sure that people that you’re working with one hundred percent believe in what you’re trying to do and you’ve got to make sure that what you’re trying to do is worthwhile spending your time on. At the end of the day you want to be sure that the people’s lives you’ve affected – you’ve affected them and benefited them. If you get all of that right, hopefully you’ll be able to pay the bills at the end of the year.”
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