Richard Branson: How to give your business the best shot at succeeding

Launching a business is all about doing everything you can to give your venture the best chance of succeeding. But what do you do if you have multiple business ideas? Richard Branson has some advice

“I’m constantly coming up with ideas for new businesses,” the Virgin Founder says. “Over the past few decades we’ve developed more than 100 brands at Virgin - and we’re huge fans of giving new industries and ideas a try. The rush that comes from making an idea into a reality can be hugely absorbing, almost addictive.”

But, he says that it’s important to see ideas through, even when you have many others in mind.

“When you start a business your primary goal in the first year should be to help it survive, rather than to start a second enterprise,” Richard says. “To have a fair chance at survival, it needs all your attention and if you spread yourself too thin, you simply won’t be able to focus.”

And through focusing on that one business, you’ll learn a lot that will inform your next effort, he adds.

Some might say entrepreneurship is a lonely path, but Richard doesn’t see it that way. “I’ve surrounded myself with partners who are just as invested in building something amazing as I am.”

But finding the right people is crucial, he warns. “When you need to choose a new employee or a partner, be careful! Some potential partners may see money as a primary motivator for starting a new business. Ask yourself: What’s truly at the heart of my business? Why did I start it? What’s our purpose?”

Richard recommends finding people who share that vision and passion and trusting them to help you build your company. If you’ve chosen the right partners working with them, and having to break bad news to them, will be much easier.

“People who joined your enterprise for the long term and who share your vision won’t be panicked by one bad month,” Richard says. “Work on developing a culture of resourcefulness at your business that encourages all of your staff to work on fixing what has gone wrong so that you can get the enterprise back on track quickly.

“Above all, you need to be honest about what’s going on, not fearful about admitting mistakes - we all make missteps. At Virgin there have been times where parts of our businesses have teetered on the edge of disaster. (I myself have had many uncomfortable conversations with bank managers in the early days!)”

And one failure isn’t the end of the world, Richard says. “The important thing is that you learn from them and get back up again.”

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