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Start-up Advice

Richard Branson on Business Lessons From Parenting

If you think running a business is tough, try bringing up a baby.

Richard Branson



Richard-Branson-Parenting-Advice-Start-up Advice-Starting a Business

Entrepreneurs sometimes look at me like I’m crazy when I talk about work-life balance and the importance of maintaining a rich personal life. But taking time away from the office isn’t just a luxury – it can be hard work. If you think running a business is tough, try bringing up a baby.

Raising children is one of the few things that is more rewarding than building a business, and for many people, including myself, the skills carry over from one to the other.

Whether you’re starting a business or having a baby, you have to do a huge amount of planning before the big day arrives – and no matter how much you prepare, something unexpected will happen. When my wife, Joan, was pregnant with our daughter Holly, I went to a work-related party thinking that all would be fine. I came home blazing drunk and fell into bed.

The next thing I knew, Joan was shaking and slapping me. She’d gone into labour six weeks early, and we needed to get her to the hospital. Once I gathered my wits and realised what the situation was, I was extremely awake and ready to go, right away!

Be adaptable

That was just the first moment in what has been more than 30 years of surprises, which have included everything from the usual childhood tumbles and mishaps to the happy day two years ago when Holly told me that she was getting married.

These moments as a parent taught me to be ready to adapt to change – to think on my feet and stay level-headed, no matter what. Just recently I was helping our team at Virgin Active launch a new free tennis initiative, and a ride on the London Eye, the city’s landmark Ferris wheel, was a centrepiece of the festivities. Just as we were about to climb aboard, it broke down. Rather than calling off the launch, we quickly set up a mini-tennis court nearby and were soon having fun and getting our message across.

Related: Seven Need-To-Know Life Lessons for Start-Up Success

Manage your time

You’re also likely to pick up some time management skills in either situation. Joan and I were incredibly busy after Holly’s birth, and not just with baby raising: Virgin Records was expanding, and I was going through one of the most intense periods of my career.

At the time we were living on our houseboat in Little Venice, a neighbourhood in London, and my office was set up onboard – specifically, in a small room next to the bedroom, with a desk crammed between the bilge pump and the stairs. Joan and Holly remained wrapped up warm in the bedroom for most of the winter, and I went back and forth between the two rooms.

Acquire new skills

When time is tight, you have to be ready to pick up new skills on the fly. Just as you won’t really know how to change a diaper until you’ve bundled up your little one all fresh and dry, when you have a small team and big ambitions for your business, you need to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Back when Virgin was starting up, my job titles ranged from founder and chief marketer to treasurer and receptionist.

Get enough sleep

This brings me to another common trait that busy entrepreneurs and new parents share: sleep deprivation. I spoke with many promising Peruvian entrepreneurs when I was in Lima recently. One woman told me that she was worrying so much about getting her new business off the ground that she was struggling to sleep.

Overtired, she was forgetting to complete tasks and had found herself ignoring her fiancé because she was too busy writing Post-it note reminders and attaching them to her bedstead.

Related: Does Your Business Idea Really Hold Water?

Trust your team

After commiserating about lack of sleep (I’d only had a few hours myself), I mentioned the importance of delegation. You have to show trust in your team, right from the start. I am always closely involved at first, then once a Virgin business is up and running, I keep tabs on everything from a distance, allowing the company’s CEO to do his job and build his team.

All the CEOs at Virgin make their own decisions, learn from their errors and celebrate their businesses’ successes. I offer advice and support, but try to avoid stifling them through micromanagement.

Learn to let go

I learned how to let go partly by helping Holly and my son, Sam, to grow up – I had to give them the freedom to make mistakes and learn lessons for themselves, so that they would find their own paths in life.

These days they’re thriving. Holly went off to school to study medicine for many long years before joining us to do sterling work with Virgin Unite, our nonprofit foundation (and I love having her around). Meanwhile, Sam has built his own production company, Sundog Pictures, where he is creating remarkable films that tackle important social issues. Joan and I couldn’t be prouder of them.

As a parent or an entrepreneur, you can never guess what will happen next, which is all part of the fun. In the classic comedy “Bringing Up Baby,” Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant get into all sorts of adventures while raising a leopard named Baby. When someone asks Grant: “What have you done?” He replies: “Just name anything and I’ve done it.”

Whether you’re starting a business or bringing up children (or leopards), anything you think can possibly happen, probably will, and many things you think are impossible will happen too. Welcome it all as a pleasure and privilege – even changing diapers!

Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group and companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Active. He is the author of "Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur."


Start-up Advice

9 Quotes Every Entrepreneur Should Live By

Entrepreneurship takes great perseverance. Failure is common. In fact, it is expected. Over 75% of venture-backed start-ups fail.

Jennifer Keithson



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Entrepreneurship takes great perseverance. Failure is common. In fact, it is expected. Over 75% of venture-backed start-ups fail.

There are great learning opportunities that present themselves when we fail, but we must be willing to continue on and try again in order to learn anything at all.

It can be quite an arduous task to strive for your own means, to create your own vision and to rally the support within yourself that starting and running your own business requires.

Thankfully, we’re not in it alone. The wisdom of others can greatly ameliorate the process learning from our missteps and hiccups.

Taking from sagacious investors, inventors and thinkers can help you pick yourself up and make something meaningful out of your quest to become a successful entrepreneur.

By studying the thought processes of other entrepreneurs, we can become more enriched and more aware of how to approach the challenges we face in business and in life.

Here are 9 quotes every entrepreneur should live by:

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Start-up Advice

4 Tips To Secure Funding For Your Start-up

Here are 4 tips to help you secure funding for your start-up.

Ellie Martin




Entrepreneurs seek to create new and ingenious ideas. Successful business owners are adept at looking at things in new and interesting ways. Their creativity fuels everything they do. Blazing through the initial steps of opening your own start-up can seem like a breeze if you’re endowed with this creative mojo, but you still may find yourself stuck at the very last step of starting your business.

Finding funding is undoubtedly the most difficult part of starting a business, and securing it requires the most creativity of all. Still, you can only stretch your creativity so far. Luckily, there are a few ways you can improve your chances of getting the money you need, regardless of whether you decide to attract angel investors or venture capitalists, or if you decide to apply for small business loans and grants.

Here are 4 tips to help you secure funding for your start-up:

1. Seek alternative funding opportunities

Before taking out a massive bank loan, consider these other funding options:

The vast majority of entrepreneurs either use their own funds to start their business or borrow money from friends and family. According to Forbes, 90% of start-ups fail, with 25% of them failing within their first year of operation. Due to this rate of failure, if it really is impossible for you to attract investors or secure venture capital, it is still best to avoid putting up your own money. Before draining your personal savings account, look into other options, such as crowdfunding. Research small business grants as well, as these can help cover gaps in funding.

2. Write a top-of-the-line business plan

If you’re interested in attracting investors, you’ll need a solid business plan to lure them in. Regardless of how wonderful your idea is, you must communicate that idea effectively and back up your claims with thorough research. A tightly organised business plan has the ability to assure investors of your industry know-how. It will give them a picture of how you plan to run your business and how accurately you can assess and address risks.

An entrepreneur who has a business plan with a punchy executive summary and a precise market analysis in hand is more likely to attract shrewd investors than one with only an inspired (and undeveloped) idea.

Related: Business Plan Format Guide

3. Network, network, network

The absolute best way to find investors is to network. Generally, you never want to cold call investors with your business ideas. You want to build relationships naturally with those in your industry and in your local community. Talk with other business leaders and go to local events. Offer to help other entrepreneurs and established business owners. They may return the favour by introducing you to reliable angel investors or they may steer you to a venture capital firm that helped launch their start-up. They may even offer to pitch in some of their own cash, if they really take to your idea.

Moreover, to make sure your networking efforts are effective, try to pinpoint the audience who would be most interested in your idea.

“Network selectively,” advises American author and entrepreneur, Steve Pavlina. “Take the time to build a profile of your ideal customers, and target your networking activities to reach them. Speak to those who are already predisposed to want what you offer.”

Building connections is a vital part of creating your business. You’ll need to build new ones and strengthen existing ones, not only to get the funding you need in the short term, but also to survive as a business in the long term. 

4. Be prepared to compromise

Asking for funding for your startup means experiencing failure time and time again. Most of the investors you’ll encounter will pass on your idea. You shouldn’t take this to heart. It’s all a part of the process. You may find that in order to get the funding you need you’ll have to give a small piece of the business over to an angel investor.

Your first crowdfunding effort may fall short, and you might have to incorporate feedback from backers and implement changes to the core of your idea to crowdfund successfully the next go around. Don’t be too rigid with your vision. If you’re willing to make some slight changes, you could have a much better shot at landing a deal.

Securing funding for your start-up is no easy task, but it is certainly not one you have to do alone. Enlist the help of friends, family, and business associates to help you craft a superb business plan, meet other entrepreneurs and investors, and make revisions to your idea. Use their input to help you find other ways to fund your start-up, such as small business grants and crowdfunding. Use these 4 tips for securing funding for your start-up, continue researching your target market and refining the way you approach investors. Without a shadow of a doubt, if you’re willing to seek the advice of others and compromise when necessary, you’ll find a way to fund your start-up.

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Start-up Advice

7 Strategies For Development As An Entrepreneur

What follows are seven simplified yet key strategies to develop yourself as an entrepreneur which are a hybrid of the authors’ practical experience and what he has learnt from very successful entrepreneurs, coaches, and consultants over several years.

Dirk Coetsee




What lies behind you and what lies in front of you are tiny matters compared to what lies inside of you” – Ralph Waldo Emmerson

I am an entrepreneur, I surround myself with business minded people, I am privileged enough to be mentored by great leaders. I speak to visionaries, I write about them and learn from them.

What follows are seven simplified yet key strategies to develop yourself as an entrepreneur which are a hybrid of the authors’ practical experience and what he has learnt from very successful entrepreneurs, coaches, and consultants over several years.

A wise man once told me, “A higher level of consciousness does not mean you are better than anybody else it just means your mind sees from a higher vantage point and therefore you see clearer than most.”

Related: 8 Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Advice For When The Going Gets Tough

Those wise words lead us into explaining the first strategy:

1. Expand your consciousness

Simply put your consciousness is nothing but what you are aware of. By increasing what you are aware of through experience, study and honest self-reflection and by inquiring deeply into every aspect of your business as to increase the quality of your awareness you are enhancing the quality of your experience as an entrepreneur.

The second strategy often referred to as priming or framing is commonly used by successful entrepreneurs:

2. Priming or framing

Priming or framing is creating a positive mindset first thing in the morning which builds mental strength and the capacity to face the day with a very good attitude. This is, in essence, done by creating a morning ritual or habit for yourself which can take whatever form you prefer, as long as the outcome of it is a stronger and better you.

Some prefer meditation and/or prayer. Others repeat affirmations in the mirror. Some take the quiet early morning hours as the opportune time to read and learn more about their craft. Exercise is another way to start your day in a positive way. See this exercise of Priming or framing as an investment earning compound interest over a period of time.

nelson-mandelaGoogle whom any famous leader or entrepreneurs’ mentor was and a name or many will most certainly pop up. Nelson Mandela’s’ mentor was Oliver Tambo, Warren Buffet holds the Dale Carnegie certificate proudly displayed on his office wall in high regard, the famous investor Ray Dalio is still coached by Tony Robbins.

Related: (Podcast) Being An Entrepreneur Is Painful

That explains why you should:

3. Be willing to be mentored

When I facilitate training or a coaching session a common objection to being mentored is: “ Yes , but I do not know anyone that could mentor me.”

Honestly, what a lame excuse. Most servant leaders understand that it is part of their duty to society by leaving other servant leaders and/or entrepreneurs behind and are actually just waiting for your call.

It is really as simple as that, make your list of people that you look up to and want to be mentored by and call them, sincerely tell them how much you admire them and ask for guidance and mentorship. To those whom knock sincerely a door will be opened.

There is no such thing as a “self-made man” as everyone has received some help in some shape or form along their journey of entrepreneurship.

It is much harder to give up on something that you really have worked hard for over a long period of time as opposed to something that you have approached with half-hearted intent and little effort.


4. Hard work compounded by smart work

Hard work is not only something that you should do to stay ahead of the competition but a necessity in order to build resilience.

When you have lost sight of your purpose and vision as an entrepreneur decision making becomes drastically harder, your morale might be affected negatively, and your bank balance might suffer as a consequence.


5. Ensure that you have constancy of purpose and a clear Vision

A very effective way of priming and/or framing is to remind yourself of your purpose and vision every morning. Make your Vision and purpose visual by displaying it clearly at your office. An entrepreneur cannot talk regularly nor enthusiastically enough about his or her vision and purpose. When you have not wholeheartedly bought into a vision and purpose how can you expect your team to?

ian-fuhrThose whom embody servant leadership of which the founder of Sorbet, Ian Fuhr is a prime example know that unconditional giving as a principle not only builds character but empowers others so that we can not only grow as businesses but as people.

Related: 10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets

That is the reason for:

6. Giving without expecting anything in return

When you give of yourself unconditionally you have a true servant heart and your clients will not only be loyal, but they will love you in general. Giving unconditionally feels good and receiving unconditionally places no burden on you and creates a wonderful and vibrant work atmosphere, generally speaking.

When you only take a stand on your principles and values during good times yet allow them to crumble in the face of challenging times “your house is divided and cannot stand”.  Your principles and values must become ingrained practises and not just frivolous words.

Taking the aforementioned into account:

7. Have non-negotiable principles and values that you live by

As an example, if when respect is a non-negotiable value that you live by you will refrain from losing emotional control and will be willing to walk away from a conversation where someone dis-respects you.

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