‘‘We’ve experienced a fair number of failures at Virgin over the years, but it is because of these failures that we succeed’’.
Those are the words of Virgin Atlantic boss, Richard Branson while giving some advise to young and upcoming entrepreneurs recently. Below is the full piece culled from his blog:
I often get asked what qualities it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and the key one is how to deal with and learn from failure. There’s a thin line between success and failure, but the key thing for any new company is survival. Eight out of 10 companies do not survive the first 18 months when they’re starting out, and if this happens you shouldn’t feel completely downhearted. You should learn from it and try again.
We’ve experienced a fair number of failures at Virgin over the years, but it is because of these failures that we succeed. As I’ve said before: Even if you fall flat on your face, at least you’re moving forward.
As an entrepreneur you need to clearly define and understand your purpose, as it will help you recover from failure. Since the age of 15, I’ve always created businesses that strive to make the world a better place, not just make money.
You also need the right people. Surround yourself with brilliant people, create a fun environment and culture, and treat them well. My motto has always been: Look after your staff and they will look after your customers.
At Virgin, we love to spark opportunities for young entrepreneurs around the world. 10 years ago we created our entrepreneurial foundation, Virgin Unite, and we went on to found the Branson Centres of Entrepreneurship in South Africa and the Caribbean.
We’ve helped a great number of entrepreneurs flourish in South Africa, most notably Brett Michael whose wonderful film, Sinkcreated 200 direct jobs and service 500 indirect jobs during its production. In the Caribbean, too, we have trained over 300 local entrepreneurs to structure and scale their businesses.
On the back of this success we’ve set up an accelerator programme in the British Virgin Islands to help grow economies, improve lives and create sustainable businesses for these wonderful communities.
We’re also funding and supporting PROWEB, a women’s empowerment network in Zimbabwe, which is part of the Graça Machel Trust. The partnership has allowed us to support 120 female entrepreneurs, helping them grow their businesses. In Liberia, the Branson Scholarship Programme is supporting the country recover from a brutal civil war via job creation and economic growth.
In the UK, three years ago we launched Virgin StartUp to promote entrepreneurship and give people access to funding, mentoring and advice. Since 2013, we have funded more than 1,100 entrepreneurs, distributing more than £10 million of loans and over 30,000 hours of mentoring.
For all the entrepreneurs struggling out there to grow their businesses, I do have one piece of key advice – try and find a mentor. Virgin Atlantic would never have taken off had it not been for the mentorship I received from Sir Freddie Laker, who showed me how to use myself to promote the brand. Zig Ziglar once said: “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.” I firmly believe in those words.
Entrepreneurship has such a positive impact on society and can create jobs, contribute to the economy and innovate out-of-date systems. It can also help us solve some of the world’s most pressing problems such as climate change, developing new markets and giving people meaningful work.
Now it’s over to you, the next generation of entrepreneurs.