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Learnings from a Week on Necker Island with Richard Branson

One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is the people I get to meet and the interesting opportunities that present themselves. There are only a few people that truly embody the title entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson, is one of the few. So when I was recently invited to spend the best part of a week with Richard and a small group of successful international entrepreneurs on his private Caribbean island (Necker) I jumped at the chance. During the week there were lots of chances to learn, little gems of business wisdom were shared by Richard and the other entrepreneurs. I picked up on three recurring key learnings:

THE ‘A’ TEAM

Always employ great people. Find the holes in your skill set or your business capabilities and then fill them with quality people. Once you have found the right people, the kind of people who work hard and well together, who are constantly striving for better results and seeking perfection, you need to keep them. To build a business you need to first build a culture, the glue that will bind this new family together. Get the culture right and it will attract those stellar performers, it will provide an element of fulfilment that salary alone can’t and will help retain those high achievers. Don’t be afraid to spend money on training, perks and other things that encourage staff retention. The cost of replacing and training good staff is likely to be considerably more than you would spend retaining existing team members.

PUSH BOUNDARIES

The only way to achieve something out of the ordinary is to go take that extra step into the unknown. The greatest entrepreneurs and innovators are all people who have been told they can’t achieve something, but they go and do it anyway. Currently Richard Branson is attempting to prove the world wrong and make some adventurous people’s dreams come true with Virgin Galactic.

FAIL FAST

Not every idea or business is going to be a success. The best entrepreneurs have this great ability to recognise opportunity and to ‘pivot on a dime’, changing tack without having that lesson cost too much. The most important thing (other than not losing everything) is to learn from every failure and to set up for bigger success in the future. There was lots of valuable knowledge I learned throughout the week just by having my mind and my ears open.

You may not have had the chance to go to Necker Island but you might have other entrepreneurs around that you can learn from.
Talk to your colleagues and other business owners, ask them about their latest projects, go to networking events and really listen to the other people talking. Don’t just sit there waiting for your chance to talk, rehearsing what you will say in your head.

Ask questions and drill down into the reasons behind the successes and failures. What is true in the world of global entrepreneurship can be applied to the New Zealand
business world.

But most importantly pick the right people to push those boundaries with you and build success from every failure.

 

15 December 2016


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