Business doesn’t have to be boring and if it is – you’re doing it wrong. Being an entrepreneur is one of life’s greatest adventures, where you are always learning new things and growing.
It was great to spend time in South Africa with a mixture of thriving entrepreneurs, growing start-up founders, and business-savvy travellers for the latest round in Virgin Atlantic’s Business is an Adventure series.
I joined a panel debate with some business mavericks – Adrian Gore, founder of the Discovery Group; Caspar Lee, who is a social influencer; and Sophia Ike-Onu, who runs online clothing store The5kShop.com in Nigeria. We talked about the rise of social media and how important it was for new businesses to grow their brand. It’s crucial to create a brand now that can evolve to grow into a global brand while still retaining its core values. It was fascinating listening to how Caspar has carved a business out of doing something he loves – which is truly the best motivation to start a business.
Sophia was also spot on when she said she refused to sell clothes she wouldn’t like and is trying to provide a product that is locally manufactured to help the Nigerian economy. If you can create a product that improves people’s lives, you have a pretty good shot at success.
One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is making your own rules – and one of mine is no ties – so in the spirit of adventure I took a chance and snipped off Adrian’s tie onstage.
It was inspiring to be surrounded the next generation of businessmen and women who are taking on the world with technology at their fingertips. We hope the Business is an Adventure event will bolster the entrepreneurial spirit that lives within Africa’s business leaders and support them on their next big adventures.
We have been flying to South Africa for more than 21 years now and the country holds a special place in my heart. In Finding My Virginity, I reveal how Nelson Mandela called when I was in the bath to ask me to save the country’s biggest health club chain, which was about to collapse. Fast forward and Virgin Active now has more than 141 clubs throughout South Africa. There is a huge amount of room in South Africa for entrepreneurs to change the world of business for good.
Entrepreneurs are so important in South Africa as they can help change their country and the world from the bottom up by creating jobs, fulfilling potential and nurturing talent. This was proven to me when I went to launch the new campus on 22 on Sloane during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017, which will be a hub for aspiring entrepreneurs where they can get advice and mentorship to grow their ventures.
It was fantastic being surrounded by so much entrepreneurial spirit and I hope they dream big and turn their ideas into realities.