The Definitive Guide to Business

Billionaire Richard Branson reveals his best tips for making great business decisions

Richard Branson
Getty Images | Aaron Davidson
Richard Branson

If Richard Branson is your dream mentor, you're in luck — the billionaire entrepreneur just revealed some of his best tips for making business decisions.

Everyone knows how important first impressions are when meeting someone — in fact the subconscious decisions people make within a tenth of a second are so strong that often contradictory facts can't change them. But you have to fight the urge to rely first impressions when it comes to business decisions, says Branson. "You mustn't allow that first reaction to influence your ability to objectively weigh the cons as well as all the pros when they are presented," he advises.

Branson also suggests uncovering an idea or project's "hidden warts." They're there, he assures, because nothing is perfect. You want to know about them early in the decision-making process while you still have the time and ability to deal with the issues. According to Branson, more learning is almost always better, just don't get into "'paralysis by analysis' mode," he says. At some point you have to decide, "screw it, let's do it," as he's famous for saying.

Keep your "decision stream" in mind, says Branson. Ask yourself, "This one may be a 'too good to miss' opportunity but how will it affect other projects or priorities and, if now is not the best time to do it, what risks if any are there in putting the thing on hold for an agreed period of time?" he advises.

Branson also emphasizes how important it is to protect the downside. He has been creative in his quest to mitigate. Branson uses the start of Virgin Atlantic as an example: The only way he could get his Virgin Records business partners to "begrudgingly" accept the risks involved in starting an airline was to get Boeing to agree to take back the secondhand 747 airplane he procured to get the company off the ground (literally and figuratively), "if things weren't working out as we hoped," after a year in business, says Branson.

Richard Branson handing out Virgin Colas in Japan in 1999.
Getty Images | Yoshikazu Tsuno
Richard Branson handing out Virgin Colas in Japan in 1999.

Even following the ultra-successful businessman's rules, you will still make some mistakes. Branson has made a few (remember Virgin Cola?).

So in the end, "As long as you don't make the same mistake twice, just make a decision and go for it," he says. "We wouldn't have had Virgin America, Virgin Galactic, and Virgin Atlantic if I didn't just make a decision. If you believe in it, bear in mind that the buck stops with you, and just do it."

See also:

14 time management tricks from Richard Branson and other successful people

Richard Branson: Successful entrepreneurs share these 5 skills

Richard Branson says his key to success is a habit than anyone can form