Sir Richard Branson Shares Entrepreneurship Lessons

Richard Branson
Marc Benioff hosted Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group and renowned adventurer and entrepreneur, for an hour-long chat at Dreamforce.


Marc Benioff and Sir Richard Branson at DreamforceSir Richard Branson shared inspiring lessons from his 45-year tenure as an entrepreneur. He started off at 16 by founding his magazine Student and moved on to creating Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic Airways, and over 400 other companies. 

Scroll to the bottom of the page for the video recording of the chat.

Otherwise, here is a list of notable quotes we heard from Sir Richard Branson at the talk:

“There is no point in starting a project unless you are going to shake up the status quo. No point in starting a business unless you are can shake up the industry.”

“For a company not to embrace social media...they got their head in the sand. Social media has overthrown governments.”

“With Virgin is never about what’s the cheapest way to do it or what’s the fastest way to do it...It’s about what’s the most amazing way to do it.”

“I have always dreamt big (as you and people in this room have) and always believed that you can set yourself big challenges and targets and then you just need to catch up and make them become reality.”

“In the UK I have been lobbying the government to do entrepreneurial loans instead of student loans... For some people it’s much better to just get out in the real word and say, “screw it, lets do it” and give it a go. You learn so much from being in the jungle and building a business from scratch.”

“The best way of learning about anything is by doing.”

“Being an adventurer or entrepreneur is not that dissimilar -- if you are an entrepreneur you try to create things that have not been created before, to push boundaries forward. If you are an adventurer you are trying to break world records that haven’t been achieved.”

“Most people are not thinking I want to create a business...they are thinking as it was in my case...'I want to start a magazine for young people to campaign against the war in Vietnam,' which I thought was an unjust war. The business aspect was just to pay the bills. I didn’t start most ventures to make money -- I started them because I couldn’t achieve something unless I created them.”

“Conventional wisdom is to stick with one business you know. If you look at top 30 brands in the world almost all of them specialize in one area. Virgin is different -- it’s become a way-of-life brand. It reflects my personality  -- I didn’t not go to university, I spent live learning everything there is to do with life.”

“What is a business -- a business is a group of people, first you need to find exceptional persons to run the business.”

“I learned early on the importance of delegation. The moment you have more than one business you have to accept that. It’s worthwhile to find somebody better than yourself so you can think of the bigger picture and do entrepreneurial stuff. If you delegate you have to be careful not to second-guess people and let them make mistakes without jumping on top of them all the time.”

“Give people the freedom to make mistakes.”

“Run your company like a family. Genuinely like a family.”

“My family brought me up to always look for the best in other people. I love people, I love spending time with people, I love learning from people." 

“Over 45 years I have learned a lot from making mistakes. I think if you are fortunate enough to have succeeded in life it’s important to share ideas with other people.”

“Life is short and you will find you are going to come in contact with the same people again and again. If you treat people well they will come back and if you treat them badly they will not. Then you are not leading a very fulfilling life.”

“If you are smaller competitor taking on a bigger competitor, you have to pull their tail quite a bit. That’s what we did with British Airways”

“Humor is a very important part of building a business. Not taking yourself too seriously and being willing to have a sense of humor is key. For example, our windmill Virgin salt and pepper shakers got stolen so often that we were losing money on that. Instead of pulling them from flights, we wrote on them “pinched from Virgin Atlantic.” They became our best marketing device.” 

Watch the entire chat in the video below: