‘Screw it, let’s do it’: An exclusive interview with Richard Branson

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In an exclusive interview with WP sister publication, MPA, entrepreneurial legend and founder of more than 400 companies world-wide, Richard Branson, says a ‘screw it, let’s do it’ approach to business is one of the driving forces behind his success.

“Whenever I experience any kind of setbacks, I always pick myself up and try again. I prepare myself to have another stab at things with the knowledge I have gained from the previous failure. My parents always taught me never to look back in regret, but to move on to the next thing,” he says.

Branson says focusing on past failures is a major waste of time and that entrepreneurs need to ensure they’re learning from their mistakes while quickly moving on.

“The amount of time people waste on failures rather than putting that energy into another project always amazes me. I have fun heading the Virgin group of businesses, so a setback is never a bad experience, just a learning curve.”

Furthermore, Branson believes that when it comes to industries like financial planning, which are based on selling a service rather than a physical product, it’s crucial to build up a strong brand to set your business apart from the competition.

“Even today, the Virgin brand is not a product like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s; it’s an attitude and a way of life to many. At Virgin Money, we’re building a better kind of bank. A bank that genuinely cares about the customer and provides a better experience and better-value financial products in a straightforward, transparent way. I think that it is important to build up a strong brand when selling an intangible service as it makes your service distinct and different from anyone else’s.”

Finally, Branson urges planners and other small business owners to ensure they’re taking time out to relax.

“I do try to keep fit. I love tennis and kite-surfing and pretty much do some sort of exercise every day, without making it too rigid, as that just doesn’t work for me. I enjoy being outside and being active – keeping fit as a result is almost a by-product of doing something I enjoy! I recently completed the Pick n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour, a wonderful 109km ride with 36,000 cyclists, and an extraordinary atmosphere with breathtaking views.

“I have always believed that I needed to find good people to run my businesses and to delegate day-to-day management to others. I did this from a very early age and, importantly, that has allowed me to go and set up new ventures, sometimes in a new sector or country.”

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