Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is a British entrepreneur, billionaire and founder of the Virgin Group. As part of the last bits and Pretzels he talked about entrepreneurial characteristics and good employer branding.
Sir Richard Branson, born 1950 in London, founded 1970 his first Company Virgin Records, 1972 followed the founding of Manor Studios in Oxfordshire, later adding more companies such as Virgin Sun Airlines. 2002's 4 total revenue was 5 billion pounds sterling, and Forbes magazine listed Branson as a billion dollar shareholder with 2009 billion worth of assets. In December 1999, he introduced the SpaceShipTwo, a spacecraft for private short trips into space. Richard Branson is also committed to climate protection, his Virgin Healthcare Foundation is committed to the AIDS prevention and advertising of tobacco companies in the sport. Because of his achievements as an entrepreneur Branson was appointed Knight Bachelor in December XNUMX and knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. His positions, which he talked about on Bits and Pretzels, at a glance.
What qualities should a good entrepreneur bring?
What makes a good business idea is the desire to improve the lives of other people. And that is what drives good entrepreneurs: the desire to make things better.
I personally developed most of my ideas out of personal frustration - for example, Virgin Airlines was born when I got stuck in Puorto Rico on my way to the British Virgin Airlines. The next day, I called Boing and asked if they could sell used planes to me.
Later, we then offered flights to Alaska with Virgin America, which were a great success. I had found out for myself that the existing flights to Alaska were a gruesome experience - and we just wanted to do better.
How important are role models? And how important is the environment?
Very important. 50 years ago, when I started, there were only two entrepreneurs in the UK - myself and Anita Rodick, the Bodyshop founder. Today, G UK and also Germany are two of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world.
Do you have to start today in Silicon Valley?
In my opinion, you can start today where you want - modern communication allows it. However, starting with a hub helps other entrepreneurs.
London or Berlin or Munich have such hubs - so you do not necessarily have to start in the Valley, but just as well in Europe. It definitely helps when entrepreneurs support each other.
What else matters if you want to be successful as an entrepreneur?
On the attitude. A good entrepreneur should surround himself with people who are better than him and give them the opportunity to make mistakes. You should calculate about two years to set up your business, then you have to find someone who can do it better or just as well as you - and dismiss yourself. Just fire yourself. Yeah I like it. You should not always think that you can do anything better.
However: If someone takes over their own company, one has to make sure that he cares for the employees and motivates them. At all, it is important as an entrepreneur to be nice to other people. Life is a lot more fun when you're a good motivator. If you can not handle people well, then find someone who can. Otherwise, the company goes bankrupt.
Make mistakes, failures - a philosophy that is increasingly prevailing in Germany. How important is that for entrepreneurs?
Errors are very important for personal development as well as for the company. One can hardly be successful if one does not always risk something new and pushes into unknown areas. There are mistakes.
For example, we really thought we could force Coca Cola to his knees with Virgin Cola, which was really stupid. On British Airways, on the other hand, it worked to make them compete even though they were much bigger than us. The service of Virgin Airlines was simply better than British Airways, so they could not defeat us.
How can such a David function against Golliath number?
When a smaller company attempts to assert itself as a giant on the market, it is only with humor and guerrilla marketing. For example, at that time we flew with our airship over the Superbowl. NBC did not want to film us because we did not pay for it. But we had a banner saying, "NBC cameramen are the best-looking men in the US" - that's what got us on TV.
In addition, entrepreneurs should think about how they can improve the world. Good entrepreneurs must be philanthropists. As an example, I think of dealing with drug addicts, which are criminalized in many countries, which causes a lot of problems.
As a business leader, you should take a closer look, for example, to countries that are different from Portugal or Germany who work with methadone replacement. The drug addicts are treated here as sick, not like criminals, which is imitative.
Is not it difficult to make other people think socially?
No, because entrepreneurs have always understood that they have to do something: They see problems differently than politicians and help more efficiently. I think countries should be run by entrepreneurs.
Only Donald Trump is a negative example. I met him years ago at a dinner and thought back then: Something is wrong with this man.
Why do more and more companies think about it?
More and more companies are thinking differently because, for example, they find that the success of their employees is also decisive and important for their employees.
And good employees want to work in great companies. This is precisely why it helps to work for other people. In the end, a classic employer branding theme.
The best example of this is Germany in the refugee crisis: world-wide open-mindedness has given Germany an excellent image. Qualified people from abroad want to work here now. The alleged crisis was therefore a complete success for Germany as a business location.
How important are personal relationships for entrepreneurs?
Not everyone has the happiness to live in a working relationship, 50% of marriages are divorced. But it's pure magic when it works.
I have been married to my wife since 40 years and she is the opposite of me - she brings me back to the bottom of the facts with all my enthusiasm for my work.
I should have bought Ryanair when I had the opportunity. And cruise ships that are really fun. I've been dreaming of cruise ships since 30 years ago. We are currently working on Virgin Cruises.
And we are working on Virgin Galactic, the first commercial spaceflight: we want people to travel the 200.000 dollars for the journey of their lives and fly them into space.
How dangerous is this project?
Yes, we had setbacks like this accident several years ago. Such situations have to be analyzed and evaluated.
I will also wait until the space flight is safe enough and leave the tests to the test pilots. I've had so much life in my life.
Where does this enthusiasm for the conquest of space come from?
If you ask people, then 9 from 10 would like to travel to space. So the interest is there and we have theoretically the abilities to do so. This is why Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are working on world-class projects.
At some point we will fly people around the earth. The mission to Mars will succeed someday, but it will take a while.
But also for quite earthly things the space has some important meaning: The Internet expansion eg I noticed eg straight in Italy how bad the Internet is everywhere. Everybody, even in remote counties, needs wireless, fast internet connections today. We have to work on that.
Fast Internet worldwide - how should this be technically implemented?
Virgin Galactic is also working to expand the satellite technology. We want to bring satellites into space and thus enable the Internet at the most remote corners.
I do not believe in balloons, but I'm not a big balloon fan either, they're too unpredictable. I remember that my own balloon flight, where I was to land in the USA and came out in Antarctica. I would rather argue for gigantic drones.
How far is the development of supersonic aircraft?
We're working to make flights faster, so you can fly from Europe to Australia in 6 hours, for example. However, there are still many technical problems to solve, I can not promise anything.
What should female founders consider?
I believe there is no difference between men and women as regards foundation. Crucial is a good idea.
Whether it is a man or a woman: It is important to keep up with the defeats and learn from his mistakes. I just recently had a bad bike accident and now I cycle again the 2000 KM. At all, people should enjoy their free time and have fun.
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