Richard Branson, the famous billionaire owner of Virgin received a letter from a 12 year old kid asking him about the key enterprising skills he used when first starting out. He was kind enough to respond to her letter and also share it with the world.
Richard mentions various skills he thinks helped him when he started out and how they are the same ones he used every day.
It is not often that we get to see such candid responses from really successful people and so I took opportunity to learn as much as I can from this letter. There are some important takeaways in this letter for every entrepreneur and every entrepreneur to be and I want to share them with you today.
The Key Takeaways from Richard Branson’s Letter to a 12 Year Old:
Richard says, “The key enterprising skills I used when first starting out are the very same ones I use today: the art of delegation, risk-taking, surrounding yourself with a great team and working on projects you really believe in.”
In his letter Richard talks about the time when he started Student magazine, his first entrepreneurial venture. He was willing to reach out to people who would generally be considered way beyond the reach of this new on the scene publication. He also got many big brands to advertise with them by calling them and saying that their competitors were already advertising with them. There is a lot to learn in the world of business by taking chances, trying different approaches, and doing unconventional things. Worst case, you were wrong but you can still have another go at it.
Building a Great Team:
One of the most overlooked skills and probably the most important one for the success of any startup is building a good team. Great companies are not only built on innovative ideas but also by great teams. A good team can keep you motivated, compensate for you weaknesses, and compliment your strengths. A team goes beyond the co-founders. While having the right co-founders is important, it is also important to have the right employees, mentors and investors.
Delegation is an important skill. Every entrepreneur has one same constraint – 24 hours in a day and in order to make the most of it one has to free up their time by delegating work to other so they can focus on the things that matter the most to the success of their business and things that they are good at. As an entrepreneur we all have the habit of doing everything ourselves, we seek perfection and we know we do the best job. However putting trust with others and believing that they can accomplish tasks for you is important.
Believing in Your Projects:
It is easy to get excited about new ideas and strategies but the ones you choose to pursue should be the ones you truly believe in. If you don’t believe in the initiative you are pursuing it will be very difficult for others to back you up and follow up. Having faith in your ideas and keeping the faith when others start questioning your ideas and projects differentiates successful entrepreneurs from quitters. Partnering with people who also believe in your projects will help you find the right partners will be there with you during tough times.
In Richard Branson’s letter to a 12 years old kid you will also find some tips that are specifically applicable to young entrepreneurs who are still in school and colleges. He says in reference to grades you get in school “Remember there’s a lot more to life than some letters on a piece of paper”.
It is important to keep in mind that businesses are tested in markets by real consumers and not by teachers who grade your papers. Low grades does not imply that you cannot become a successful entrepreneur of have to end up in a low paying job.
Although many of these lessons seem obvious we still fail to apply them. It is important to take these lessons and apply it to your business or projects to see the benefits. You can read the complete letter here.