Since dropping out of school at age 16 to start his first business, billionaire Richard Branson has overseen hundreds of companies. Along the way, he's met and worked with brilliant leaders and entrepreneurs.
"No two successful entrepreneurs are the same," the Virgin Group founder writes on his blog. "In fact, it's their individuality and different ways of thinking that make them successful."
That being said, over his 50-year entrepreneurial career, Branson has noticed that the greatest entrepreneurs do share five distinct skills.
They take calculated risks
"The luckiest people in business are those that are prepared to take the greatest risks," Branson writes. "We can all create our own luck by taking the necessary risks to open the door to change, progression and success."
It's similar to the advice PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel gave Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, according to Zuckerberg: "Peter was the person who told me this really pithy quote: 'In a world that's changing so quickly, the biggest risk you can take is not taking any risk.' I really think that that's true."
They embrace failure
"Nobody gets everything right the first time. Business is like a giant game of chess — you have to learn quickly from your mistakes," Branson writes. "Successful entrepreneurs don't fear failure; they learn from it and move on."
He's not the only billionaire entrepreneur to credit failure for eventual success. Spanx founder Sara Blakely goes so far as to say that failure is the secret to her success. (Thiel, however, calls failure "massively overrated.")
They think big
"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," says Branson. "Successful entrepreneurs take an idea and let it fly."
They build a strong team and delegate effectively
"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," the billionaire writes.
Zuckerberg agrees: "No one does it alone. When you look at most big things that get done in the world, they're not done by one person, so you're going to need to build a team."
They have excellent communication skills
"Communication makes the world go round. It facilitates human connections, and allows us to learn, grow and progress," Branson writes.
Effective communication is more than just being able to speak — to make it in the entrepreneurial world, you need to "listen more than you talk," he says. After all, "if you aren't listening, you are missing out."