Business Advice

Richard Branson on the most important skill any entrepreneur can have

Dominic Powell /

Virgin Airlines founder and influential entrepreneur Richard Branson believes there are certain skills and abilities that put successful entrepreneurs ahead of the pack.

Establishing yourself as a successful entrepreneur can be a hard journey, one that Branson himself knows well. The entrepreneur is well versed in failure and recently revealed in an NPR podcast the moment that made himself re-consider one of his business ventures.

“No two successful entrepreneurs are the same. In fact, it’s their individuality and different ways of thinking that make them successful,” Branson says in a recent blog.

“However, having been an entrepreneur for 50 years, and having met so many wonderful leaders, I have come to realise that all successful entrepreneurs share these five distinct skills and abilities.”

Out of the five skills Branson believes entrepreneurs must possess, he picks out the ability to communicate well as “the most important skill any entrepreneur can possess”.

“Communication makes the world go round. It facilitates human connections, and allows us to learn, grow and progress. It’s not just about speaking or reading, but understanding what is being said—and in some cases what is not being said,” Branson says.

Branson’s approach to communication can be seen in how he manages his own staff, with Virgin implementing a “digital detox” strategy last year to help staff get away from their desks and talk to each other face-to-face instead.

“By encouraging face-to-face interactions, people will get to know each other better, and the business will benefit from stronger workplace relationships,” director at WattsNext HR Ben Watts told SmartCompany at the time.

“It also gives people time to be creative and flexible instead of just sitting there and answering emails all day.”

Coming from a man who said he once faced “the business version of The Godfather“, here are the other four skills and abilities essential for successful entrepreneurship.

1. Take calculated risks

Branson says the “luckiest people in business are those that are prepared to take the greatest risks”.

“We can all create our own luck by taking the necessary risks to open the door to change, progression and success,” he says.

2. Learn from failure

“Every successful entrepreneur has learned from failure. Nobody gets everything right the first time,” Branson says.

“Business is like a giant game of chess—you have to learn quickly from your mistakes. Successful entrepreneurs don’t fear failure; they learn from it and move on.”

3. See the bigger picture

“When we began Virgin, I didn’t see it as an end in itself, a noun; I saw it as the beginning of a whole range of services, an adjective,” Branson says.

“Successful entrepreneurs take an idea and let it fly.”

4. Delegate wisely

“To see the bigger picture, an entrepreneur needs to learn how to delegate effectively,” Branson says.

“It’s a fairy tale to think that you can do everything by yourself—it’s vital to the success of your business that you learn to hand off those things that you aren’t able to do well.”

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Dominic Powell

Dominic Powell is a journalist at SmartCompany and a tech and music geek. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading or browsing record shops.

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  • Bent Spark Plug

    YEPP and he should know. I agree totally thank you.