No one could ever accuse Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, of lacking in boldness or innovation. Yet, while he has expanded his business from publishing to retail to travel to the edges of space, he still carries around the same five core beliefs about business formulated at an early age.
In a recent post at Entrepreneur, he shared the five principles he follows, unchanged since his youthful startup days in the late 1960s:
1. "If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. You must love what you do." We know he does.
2. "Be innovative: Create something different that will stand out." Branson started as a magazine publisher, then branched out into a record store chain, then expanded into airlines, rail lines, and is now in the spaceflight business. How many companies and business leaders have that kind of audacity?
3. "Your employees are your best asset. Happy employees make for happy customers." Advice all too often overlooked by many organizations. How many times have you walked into a store or called a customer-service line and have known instinctively that the employees hate their jobs?
4. "Lead by listening: Get feedback from your staff and customers on a regular basis." Another piece of advice to which many companies only pay lip service.
5. "Be visible: Market the company and its offers by putting yourself or a senior person in front of the cameras." Branson is the human face in front of everything Virgin, which makes one feel he stands 100% behind every product or service he sells. Frank Perdue captured this spirit selling chicken, Lee Iococca put his face in front of Chrysler, and Steve Jobs became synonymous with sleek computers.