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9
Dec 03
Tue

Branson Q&A

Sir Richard BransonExcellent Q&A session with Sir Richard Branson this evening at UNSW. He’s a very clear spoken, doesn’t use a lot of buzzwords (which was really noticeable when compared with the closing remarks of Prof Whittred, the faculty Dean) and is just plain understandable. Starting a business at abour age 15 and slightly dyslexic, Branson is the entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. The hour session basically could be condensed down into four points:

1. You’ve got to get out there and take a risk if you want to get anywhere. That may mean laying everything out on the line.

2. The most important part to business is simple People. The audience basically adopted Branson’s mantra of “People people people”. Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you and that are different from you. Learn to delegate. He emphasised this again and again, that he has attributed his success to finding the right people, as it is the people that run the business. (Obviously, Branson doesn’t have time to run all the aspects of a business.)

3. Have a passion for what you’re starting up a business in. Don’t just do it because you think it will make money.

4. Have a good company name that you can attach a strong brand to. One that can be global, even if you never make it that far (you never know).

He also mentioned that people should stay away from banks as much as is possible in terms of obtaining initial funding, because they can be ruthless.

Also interesting was his thoughts on university. He noted that virtually none of the entrepreneurs of his generation were tertiary educated. Has the trend towards more of the population getting tertiary education changed things though? Perhaps. Branson acknowledged that university provides a very good safety net in terms of finding a job. However, with regards to entrepreneurialism, which is really only where the really massive gains can be made from, life changes as you get older. People become more conservative, getting tied down with relationships, perhaps mortgages and so on. And this conservative nature runs contrary to being an entrepreneur, which is all about getting out there and giving it a go, and to hell with the consequences (which in most cases is limited to corporate bankruptcy). Basically it’s a risk versus return argument.

Just a note on business failures, it seems to be that Australia’s business culture doesn’t foster entrepreneurialism as much as, say, America. Venture capital flows like water there, compared to here, and it seems that the Americans aren’t as perturbed about business failures (they just pick themselves off the floor, try again and start a new one).

One question he fielded was from a Com/Law undergrad who was wondering whether he should take up an investment banking job, or whether he should try starting up his own business first. The answer was for the latter, because the job, you can potentially fall back on, but a business idea is hard to go back to. First mover advantage.

Bumped into Kit outside afterwards, then decided to head back inside where we grabbed Branson’s autograph. Kev mobbed him and virtually fell down on his knees begging good Sir Richard to write his business philosophy onto the card (naturally: “people, people, people”).

As always, inspirational and deceptively simple, but, given that there are so few hugely successful entrepreneurs floating around, it’s not.

  8:52pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Life  •   •  Tweet This  •  Comments (2)