When it comes to success, billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson knows what he's doing.
Not only has he has built eight billion-dollar companies in eight different sectors, starting with Virgin in 1970, but the 66-year-old has also written six books, established a non-profit foundation and still finds time to kite surf and play tennis regularly.
He's generous, too. In a recent blog post, Branson gives readers a peek into how he got where is he today by sharing his top 10 secrets to success. Anyone can learn from his advice, whether you're founding your third company or starting out as as intern.
Read on to see Branson's top tips.
You'll never be successful if you don't love what you do and wake up every morning excited. "Those people who spend their time working on things they love are usually the ones enjoying life the most," Branson says. "They are also the ones who dared to take a risk and chase their dreams."
Legendary investor and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett agrees. "Being successful at almost anything means having a passion for it," he said during a recent conversation with Bill Gates. "If you see somebody with even reasonable intelligence and a terrific passion for what they do and who can get people around them to march, even when those people can't see over the top of the next hill, things are gonna happen."
According to Branson, "if you aren't making a positive difference to other people's lives, then you shouldn't be in business." This goes not only for individuals, but companies as a whole, Branson says.
Today, many employers ascribe to this idea. Take companies like Toms and Warby Parker, which follow the "One for One" or "Buy a Pair, Give a Pair" rule: Every time a pair of shoes or glasses is purchased, one is donated.
If you aren't advocating for yourself, you're not giving anyone else a reason to. As Branson says, "If you aren't proud of your idea and believe in your plans, why should anybody else?"
Fellow billionaire Mark Cuban has similar views on what it takes to succeed, particularly for entrepreneurs. "Don't start a company unless it's an obsession and something you love," he wrote in a column on Entrepreneur. Because, "if you have an exit strategy, it's not an obsession."
Though often underrated, Branson calls fun one of the most important ingredients in any successful business. "If you're not having fun, then it's probably time to try something else," he writes.
The concept of having fun has driven some of Branson's most successful businesses, especially when he was first starting out. When he went to the CEOs of Virgin Music with the idea of using a third of the company's profits to start an airline because he believed it would be "fun," they weren't entirely on board, Business Insider reports. But Branson persisted and Virgin Atlantic, one of the company's most well-known properties, was born.
"On every adventure I have been on — whether setting up a business, flying around the world in a balloon or racing across the ocean in a boat — there have been moments when the easy thing to do would be to give up," Branson writes. But, by sticking things through, he's propelled himself to immense success, both personal and professional.
Branson's onto something with this tip. Psychologist and MacArthur "Genius" fellow Angela Duckworth spent years researching achievement, and found that talent by itself is only one factor. Success also requires determined effort, and lots of it.
"Without effort, your talent is nothing more than your unmet potential," Duckworth writes in her book, "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance."
"If you don't write down your ideas, they could be gone by the morning," Branson says. He solves this problem himself by making lists of every kind, from ideas for companies to upcoming plans.
"Write down every single idea you have, no matter how big or small," he wrote in a blog post. And then challenge yourself to follow through. You never know what's going to hit.
Learning that you don't have to do everything yourself is a difficult skill for many entrepreneurs, but it's worth it. "If you find people who can take on tasks you aren't good at, it frees you up to plan for the future," Branson writes.
Refusing to delegate also limits your financial potential, says Keith Cameron Smith in "The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class." "Having a belief that no one can do it as well as you is ignorance. The world is full of talented people," he writes.
Stop stressing that something won't be done correctly if you don't have a hand in it and start putting more faith into the people who work for and under you. Delegate! That might even improve the outcome. As Smith writes, "[Millionaires] believe they can find someone who can do it not only as well as they can, but even better!"
Your personal success matters, but so does the success of your team. Branson points out the importance of fostering a welcoming, safe and innovative work environment: "If your staff are having fun and genuinely care about other people, they will enjoy their work more and do a better job."
It's also crucial to hire the right people. "Find people who look for the best in others, praise rather than criticise, and love what they do," Branson writes.
Success — and adventure — isn't going to come to you. You've got to go find it. "Rather than sitting in front of a screen all your life, switch off the TV or the computer and go out into the world," Branson says.
Taking a break from work also gives you a chance to relax and recharge. Going on regular vacations can mitigate burnout and even help boost your chances of getting a raise.
To thrive, you must be prepared for critics and copycats.
"Some people will react to success by trying to hang onto your coat tails," Branson warns. "The best thing you can do is to not only ignore them, but to prove them wrong in every single way."
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