Our partners at Shopify recently announced that their Fifth Annual Build A Business Competition will award winners with the opportunity to be mentored by Sir Richard Branson on his private island in the British Virgin Islands (among other cool prizes). Business Icon and public figure Richard Branson is a mogul with a lot of moxie. Though he suffers from dyslexia and dropped out of school at the age of 16, Richard Branson is one of the most influential tycoons today, with a reported net worth of $5.1 billion. Despite his vast business successes, it is Branson’s big personality and tenacious imagination that set him apart from his contemporaries. We don’t anticipate becoming billionaires any time soon (though it would be cool – and is possible), but there are many lessons all entrepreneurs can learn from Richard Branson. Here are our top three faves from the unstoppable Branson.
One – Follow Your Heart
Richard Branson dropped out of school in 1966 and created “Student Magazine” to protest the Vietnam War. When asked why he did this, he said he was just following his heart and “doing what young people do.” It may surprise you that in spite of his massive success, Branson has never been interested in business. “I’ve never been interested in business. I’ve just been interested in creating things that I could be proud of,” he shared with The Huffington Post. Branson advises against pursuing a business to make a pretty penny – that will come as a result of doing a good job. Pick something you love that inspires you, and success will follow.
Two – Don’t Be Afraid To Fail
This can be as simple as allowing yourself to say “Yes” to something new. Often, people hold themselves back from opportunities, simply because they are fearful of the outcome. In Branson’s book, that’s a failure all it’s own. “There’s no way that you can create a lot of successful businesses and not have failures [along] the way,” he says. “If you’re afraid of failure, you’re not going to create anything.” The eternally curious entrepreneur has learned more from people who’ve “tried and failed, than necessarily from people who’ve tried and been successful.” Failure is a learning process – one that makes you better. In Branson’s own words,
“I think anyone can do what they want to do if they try to do it and if they give it their best shot. They won’t necessarily succeed and they may well fall flat on their face but they’ll have a lot of fun trying. Just be the best at what they can do and not worry about failure…If you’ve failed, just pick yourself up and start again the next day and learn from the experience. Be bold and be brave.”
Three – Embrace Humor
For one, a good sense of humor will help us get through even the most strenuous of days. As an ecommerce entrepreneur, you have undoubtedly faced periods of great stress and little time to manage it all. For Richard Branson, humor isn’t just a way to pick himself up after a long week – it’s a great marketing tool. When Virgin Atlantic’s arch Rival British Airways experienced some difficulties launching the British Airways Millennium Wheel, Branson jumped at the opportunity. He dispatched one of his own planes with a Press Associate photographer on board to fly past the wheel, furnished with a banner that read, “BA can’t get it up!” Branson’s sense of humor and brash thinking upstaged British Airway’s massive publicity in an instant. Not all of us can be quite as bold with our marketing, but it makes for a valuable lesson – people want to laugh, and they will remember those who help them do it.
We think it’s great to dream big. Like Branson, you could turn a humble beginning into massive, worldwide success. With a big imagination, a lot of hard work and the right people to help, nothing is impossible. What’s your ecommerce dream? Let us know in the comments, and check in with our Occupy eStreet contest winner to see how he’s achieving his very own ecommerce dream!
CNN Library. “Richard Branson Fast Facts.” CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 24 Sept. 2014.
Goodwin, Gail Lynne. “The Top Ten Things I Learned From Sir Richard Branson.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 01 Dec. 2009. Web. 24 Sept. 2014.