Business Advice

Richard Branson’s five secrets for winning at life

Matthew Elmas /

Richard Branson

Richard Branson. Source: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.

Virgin founder and veteran entrepreneur Richard Branson has published his five tips for “winning at life” in a new book recently published by GQ — and they might surprise you.

1. Frustration is inspiration

It may seem weird, but once upon a time the airline founder actually disliked flying, but as he explains, this was what led him to want to create Virgin in the first place.

“The experience was a miserable one, there was no entertainment, the food was dreadful, the staff generally didn’t smile, they were old planes. So, out of sheer frustration, I thought, ‘Let’s get a secondhand 747 and give it a go’, and Virgin Atlantic was born,” he said.

2. You need great products, the best ones actually

Branson has had failures alongside his successes remember Virgin Cola?

He learnt his lesson though  Virgin only releases things now if they pass a particular test.

“Ever since then we’ve never launched anything unless we feel that we are head and shoulders above the competition,” Branson said.

3. Flexible working is key

A well-known advocate for modern working arrangements, Branson believes a people-first approach to human resources is the key to getting the most out of your workers, yourself and therefore your business.

“I’ve always worked from either a houseboat or an island I’ve never worked from an office, and I’m sitting here now in a hammock looking over the sea and running a small empire with 90,000 people,” he said, presumably with a view.

4. Notebooks are old school, but they’re great

Virgin’s founder can probably afford an auto-dictating smartphone but prefers to go old school, instead carrying a notebook with him everywhere he goes.

Why? If I’m on a Virgin plane, I will get out there, talk to the staff, talk to the customers, and it’s that feedback that ends up making a company exceptional. If you don’t write things down, you don’t get them sorted.”

5. Delegate

Last but not least, and without going too deep into management lingo, delegation is crucial.

No one person can shoulder everything, so making sure you’ve established a team around you and your business that can help you achieve your goals is imperative.

“Entrepreneurs: once you’ve got the company up and running, replace yourself in the office and move out of the office. Let that person run the company. And then, because you’re not there, you’re not going to offend anybody if someone turns up wanting to see you and take up your time,” Branson said.

NOW READ: The value of punctuality: Why being late irritates Richard Branson

NOW READ: Richard Branson on the best way to frame a question

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Matthew Elmas

Matthew is the news editor at SmartCompany.

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