Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has a knack for making short, smart pithy statements about business and life that shed light on his work, on his skills as an entrepreneur and his philosophy of life.
The Best You selected 39 of our favourites for you to enjoy, learn from and share!
1. To me, business isn’t about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.
2. Well, I think that there’s a very thin dividing line between success and failure. And I think if you start a business without financial backing, you’re likely to go the wrong side of that dividing line.
3. The balloons only have one life and the only way of finding out whether they work is to attempt to fly around the world.
4. You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.
5. My general attitude to life is to enjoy every minute of every day. I never do anything with a feeling of, ‘Oh God, I’ve got to do this today.’
6. Well, the odds must be against anybody being able to fly around the world in a balloon on the first attempt. All of us who are attempting to go around the world in balloons are effectively flying in experimental craft because these craft cannot be tested.
7. Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.
8. The music industry is a strange combination of having real and intangible assets: pop bands are brand names in themselves, and at a given stage in their careers their name alone can practically gaurantee hit records.
9. I believe in benevolent dictatorship provided I am the dictator.
10. Right now I’m just delighted to be alive and to have had a nice long bath.
11. For a successful entrepreneur it can mean extreme wealth. But with extreme wealth comes extreme responsibility. And the responsibility for me is to invest in creating new businesses, create jobs, employ people, and to put money aside to tackle issues where we can make a difference.
12. Ridiculous yachts and private planes and big limousines won’t make people enjoy life more, and it sends out terrible messages to the people who work for them. It would be so much better if
that money was spent in Africa – and it’s about getting a balance.
13. Nobody’s ever called me Sir Richard. Occasionally in America, I hear people saying Sir Richard and think there’s some Shakespearean play taking place. But nowhere else anyway.
14. A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.
15. I was dyslexic, I had no understanding of schoolwork whatsoever. I certainly would have failed IQ tests. And it was one of the reasons I left school when I was 15 years old. And if I – if I’m not interested in something, I don’t grasp it.
16. There’s nothing like the endorphins from being fit, and the incredible endorphin rush that goes with that.
17. I think it’s quite great to set yourself a big challenge, and then you’ve got another reason for keeping fit.
18. Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.
19. One thing is certain in business. You and everyone around you will make mistakes.
20. Lightning is something which, again, we would rather avoid.
21. Through the right people focusing on the right things, we can, in time, get on top of a lot if not most of the problems of this world. And that’s what a number of us are trying to do.
22. So I’ve seen life as one long learning process. And if I see – you know, if I fly on somebody else’s airline and find the experience is not a pleasant one, which it wasn’t in – 21 years ago, then I’d think, well, you know, maybe I can create the kind of airline that I’d like to fly on.
23. I never get the accountants in before I start up a business. It’s done on gut feeling, especially if I can see that they are taking the mickey out of the consumer.
24. My philosophy is that if I have any money I invest it in new ventures and not have it sitting around.
25. I wanted to be an editor or a journalist, I wasn’t really interested in being an entrepreneur, but I soon found I had to become an entrepreneur in order to keep my magazine going.
26. The funny thing is people won’t let me pay for things. I’ll be in a restaurant and the manager will say, ‘Oh no, it’s on the house.’
27. The jet stream is a very strong force and pushing a balloon into it is like pushing up against a brick wall, but once we got into it, we found that, remarkably, the balloon went whatever speed the wind went.
28. I don’t think so, in that Virgin is already a global brand. Brands like Amazon have had to spend hundreds of millions of pounds you know, building their brands, whereas Virgin is already well-known around the world.
29. Fortunately we’re not a public company – we’re a private group of companies, and I can do what I want.
30. We’ve always had a pretty competitive and pretty ferocious battle with British Airways… It’s lasted now about 14 years, and we’re very pleased to have survived it.
31. If you want to be a Millionaire, start with a billion dollars and launch a new airline.
32. You never know with these things when you’re trying something new what can happen. This is all experimental.
33. I cannot remember a moment in my life when I have not felt the love of my family. We were a family that would have killed for each other – and we still are.
34. With the casino and the beds, our passengers will have at least two ways to get lucky on one of our flights.
35. My mother was determined to make us independent. When I was four years old, she stopped the car a few miles from our house and made me find my own way home across the fields. I got hopelessly lost.
36. And obviously, from our own personal point of view, the principal challenge is a personal challenge.
37. I love the freedom of movement that my phone gives me. That has definitely transformed my life.
38. We’re introducing separate rooms with double beds in all of our planes so people can actually go with their partner and have a proper night’s sleep.
I’ve been very lucky. I come from a very close family.