I recently watched a documentary about Sir Richard Branson and how he built his Virgin empire. His life continues to be both a source of inspiration and motivation.
Often when people think about the Bransons' and Oprahs' of this world they think everything came easy for them and they were just lucky, but "what's luck got to do with it?"
Over and over again, you see that while there was an element of chance, they worked relentlessly and pushed the limits to make their dreams happened.
Here are five lessons I believe every entrepreneur can learn from how Richard Branson built his billion dollar Virgin Empire. It doesn't matter what business you are in, it's all about mindset.
#1- Dream Big
"Because I sometimes think in life you've got to dream big by setting yourself seemingly impossible challenges (Richard Branson, Losing My Virginity).
Often we let others talk us into being realistic. While you have to be aware of your circumstances, you should never become defined by it. Richard Branson was a dyslexic 15-year-old high school dropout who dared to dream big and follow through on his great ideas.
We all get great ideas, but many of us dismiss them as impossible or far fetched. Ideas come to you because the Universe believes that you are worthy and capable of achieving them. Honor your ideas by following through on them.
#2- Take Risks
"The brave may not live forever -- but the cautious do not live at all!"
This is one of Sir Richard Branson's favorite sayings. What I loved about the interview, was how many times he put his own life at risk to save the business he believed in.
He mortgaged his house and did whatever it took to save the company. He even sold off Virgin Records to get the financing needed to keep the airline business alive. It was a tough decision but a right one. If there is one thing he does not lack, it's guts.
You don't need to put your life at risk, but you do need to take risks and take chances for what you believe in. You alone can determine what your business means to you and what it can become.
You hold the vision and can assess whether the risk is worth the return and if there is a chance that it might be... Go for it!
#3- Be Prepared to Try
"I am prepared to try anything once." Richard Branson
How often are you bowing out from challenges? In order to succeed in business, you have to be willing to take risks. There are times when all you will see is the first 200m nothing more.
Could a 1000m cliff be waiting or could it be everything you wish for and more?
The only way to find out is to try. The worst that can happen is that you would have discovered something you did not know before and now you can use that experience to create future wins in your business.
"What if" is a nagging feeling and nobody likes a nag. So what are you waiting for?
#4- Change the Game
"I've had great fun turning quite a lot of different industries on their head and making sure those industries will never be the same again, because Virgin went in and took them on." Richard Brandson
Indeed! When Virgin entered the airline business many thought it would be short lived. I mean what kind of airline would carry the name "Virgin"! Well, Sir Branson's competitors had to think again and rethink their own strategy! Virgin airlines changed the travel industry as we know it.
The airline set a new standard for customer service excellence and made flying hip. Virgin also changed the flight class system offering Premium Economy and Upper Class (a first class service at business class prices).
This new focus on offering more than just flights from point A to B, by focusing on the customer experience helped make Virgin a formidable player in the market.
#5- Give Back
"The brands that will thrive in the coming years are the ones that have a purpose beyond profit." Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson has always said that he always challenged himself to do something that was never done, and create real change in the lives of the customers and employees in his company.
Today, he is using his Virgin brand for a greater purpose, funding entrepreneurial programs through the Branson Center for Entrepreneurship and various environmental causes.
In life, we should always seek to add value to those around us. If you are in a position to help others, don't wait, make a contribution.
Doing good does not always have to be financially related; you can share your skills, resources and some days even a smile and a positive attitude can be life changing to another.
It's such a gift being an entrepreneur and business owner. You have the freedom to work on the projects you love and help make a real difference in people's lives. Richard Branson showed us that you can make a positive impact in the world and tons of money, all while having a blast!