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Success Tips From Richard Branson – Part 2

The customer is always right, most of the time.

The customer is always right… unless they’re wrong. After all, they’re only human too. Your customers’ opinions are important, but “you should not build your customer service system on the premise that your organisation will never question the whims of your clients,” says Branson.

Branson warns that many entrepreneurs think if they provide ‘the-customer-is-always-right’ service that it will improve their businesses. This is only sometimes true. Beware not to damage relationships with customers or staff with your customer service policies.

Define your brand.

When it comes to defining your brand, Branson advises entrepreneurs to do the opposite of what he did with Virgin, which is spreading out all over the place. And while it’s true that Virgin branches into many different industries, Branson says the company is actually quite focused on one thing: “finding new ways to help people have a good time.”

Stick to what you know. Underpromise and overdeliver. Because if you don’t define your brand, your competitors will.

Explore uncharted territory.

Branson compares exploring new territory in business to exploring new territory in science or geography. “We will find new species and better understand the make-up of the deep-level waters,” he says.

Business translation: There are still many things out there that haven’t been discovered, invented, achieved. Exploring little- or uncharted areas can spark new ideas and innovations.

Beware the “us vs. them” environment.

A workplace should be one in which the boss and his or her employees communicate well and work together toward the same goal. “If employees aren’t associating themselves with their company by using ‘we’, it is a sign that people up and down the chain of command aren’t communicating,” says Branson.
If you think there might be discrepancies or tension between employees and management, Branson advises to check with the middle management first to try to uncover the source of the problem and address it head-on.

Build a corporate comfort zone.

Employees must feel free and encouraged to openly express themselves without rigid confines so they can do better work and make good, impactful decisions.

“This may sound like a truism,” begins Branson, “But it has to be said: It takes an engaged, motivated and committed workforce to deliver a first-class product or service and build a successful, sustainable enterprise.”

Not everyone is suited to be CEO.

A manager needs to be someone who “brings out the best in people,” someone who communicates well with others and helps an employee learn from a mistake instead of criticizing them for it.

Not everyone does this well, and that’s okay. The founder can but doesn’t have to be the CEO; if the fit isn’t right, he or she should know when the role is meant for someone else.

And, just like last week, we think one more success tip that Mr. Branson should have added is that to boost the chances of success for your business base it at Executive Suites at Lakewood Ranch.

Success Tips From Richard Branson

Richard Branson founded Virgin in 1970 at the age of 20, and he hasn’t looked back.

He’s the only entrepreneur to have built eight separate billion-dollar companies in eight different industries — and he did it all without a degree in business.
“Had I pursued my education long enough to learn all the conventional dos and don’ts of starting a business I often wonder how different my life and career might have been,” he writes in his new book,

    Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School.

This week we’ll list 6 of his top tips from that book. We’ll list six more over the next two weeks.

Don’t do it if you don’t enjoy it.

Running a business takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (and caffeine). But at the end of the day, you should be building something you will be proud of.
Branson says, “When I started Virgin from a basement in west London, there was no great plan or strategy. I didn’t set out to build a business empire … For me, building a business is all about doing something to be proud of, bringing talented people together and creating something that’s going to make a real difference to other people’s lives.”

Be visible.

Branson received some timeless advice when building Virgin Airlines from Sir Freddie Laker, a British airline “tycoon.”
“Make sure you appear on the front page and not the back pages,” said Laker. “You are going to have to get out there and sell yourself. Make a fool of yourself, whatever it takes. Otherwise you won’t survive”.

Branson always makes a point of traveling often and meeting as many people as he can. This, he says, is how he came by some of the best suggestions and ideas for his business.

Choose your name wisely.

The unique name and brand that Virgin employs is one of the things that has made the company a success. Branson makes sure that the name ‘Virgin’ represents added value, improved service, and a fresh, sexy approach.

Branson says that he is asked all the time about the origin of the Virgin name, back when Virgin was just starting. “One night, I was chatting with a group of sixteen-year-old girls over a few drinks about a name for the record store,” he says. “A bunch of ideas were bounced around, then, as we were all new to business, someone suggested Virgin. It smacked of new and fresh and at the time the word was still slightly risqué, so, thinking it would be an attention-grabber, we went with it.”

You can’t run a business without taking risks.

Branson thinks of one of his favorite sayings when advising about taking business risks: “‘The brave may not live forever—but the cautious do not live at all!’”
Every business involves risks. Be prepared to get knocked down, says Branson, but success rarely comes from playing it safe. You may fail, but Branson also dares to point out that “there’s no such thing as a total failure.”

The first impression is everything. So is the second.

The first impression you make on customers will probably be when you acquire them. The first impression is extremely important, says Branson, but the second is equally as important.
The second time a customer usually contacts Virgin, it’s because he or she is having problems with the product or service. How you present yourself and your brand in these situations says a lot about how your brand maintains good customer relationships and handles obstacles.

Perfection is unattainable.

“There’s an inherent danger in letting people think that they have perfected something,” says Branson. “When they believe they’ve ‘nailed it’, most people tend to sit back and rest on their laurels while countless others will be laboring furiously to better their work!”

For this reason, Branson never gives anyone a 100% perfect review of their work. He believes that no matter how “brilliantly conceived” something is, there is always room for improvement.

One final tip that may or may not be attributable to Sir Richard Branson is that to be successful base your business at Executive Suites at Lakewood Ranch!

Tips For Starting Your Own Business

Be Clear on Why You want to Start a Business

Taking control of your work life by starting out on your own may be daunting, but doing nothing cis not a better alternative. If you’re truly passionate about doing your own thing and you’re ready to go for it with everything you’ve got, then starting your own business can be the most frustrating and the most rewarding adventure you’ve ever undertaken.

Determine Your Business Type

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The best idea for your business may be something that’s already out there, but different because of your personal twist. Take a look around and you’ll see no shortage of repeatable ideas: People need accountants, other businesses need consultants, many folks are apprehensive about large law firms, and people appreciate financial advisors who are close by. You just have to execute your version really well. So nail your idea – and keep in mind that a service business (a service you provide based on your expertise) is much less expensive to launch than a product business where it costs money to create a tangible item to sell.

Create a Simple Business Plan

Many new aspiring businesses owners think they’re supposed to sit down and write a detailed and lengthy business plan. Some people worry so much about dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” until their plan is just perfect that they never start their business. A basic business plan can be as simple as a one-page plan that covers what you will offer, who your target market is, what your price(s) will be and how you plan on marketing the business. The Small Business Administration website () is a great resource for writing your business plan as well as other good advice on starting and running your business.

Nail Your Target Customer

Determine exactly who your customers are with great specificity- this is key. Define your marketing strategy: I’m going to provide bookkeeping services for restaurants; I’m going to create social media campaigns for self-published authors, you get the idea. The more you can pinpoint your targeted client, the more focused your marketing efforts will be to reach them. You’ll be able to ask for the right referrals and you’ll know who and what to search for on the Internet.

Perfect Your Pricing

Your pricing must cover your costs AND it must also generate a profit. A classic mistake is to undervalue your time and talent, don’t make it. One option is to work the numbers from the top down: What are you looking to make annually? How does that break down monthly and weekly? How many products must you sell or how many clients will you need to bring in to meet those numbers? What are all of the costs associated with delivering that product or service? Review your assumptions often once you get going and tweak where necessary.

How to Fund Your Dream

Until you start bringing in sales, you must keep costs down. Think creatively. Forget hiring a full staff; ask friends for help and train interns. Negotiate for key services. Keep your costs low by considering an executive suite or shared office environment to house your business.

If tapping personal savings isn’t an option or if you need a more creative financing option, one of the fastest growing trends today is crowdfunding. Google “how does crowdfunding work?” to learn more. The SBA website also has great advice and resources for this.

Go Out and Get Customers

Nothing happens until somebody sells something and nothing else matters if you don’t have customers. The majority of your time and effort must focus on sales. Having a smart marketing plan to attract interested people, and then convert them to customers is your number one priority. Create a list of 50 potential prospects (your target customer) that you’ll go after and begin making calls. Learn how to build a serious social media presence for your business.

Dreaming about how fabulous your business can be is good; but doing the work to get it there is sensational. It’s all about your passion and hustle. The decisions you make and the actions you take each and every day will get you where you want to go.

Executive Suites at Lakewood Ranch provides the office suites, technology and communication services small businesses and startups need to propel them to success. And our budget-friendly service lets you hit the ground running without a ton of startup costs that those going it on their own are faced with. To learn more contact us today! 941.373.1400.

15 Steps To Business Success

Want to learn how to head down the road to success with higher profits, more satisfied employees and happier clients? Take a look at our 14 tips to business success.

Plan: The first step in finding business success is clearly defining your professional objectives, your mission statement, your value propositions and how you’re going to achieve them. What is the plan you have in place to reach your goals?

Care: Care about your business, your work, your clients and your professional reputation. Be passionate about your company’s mission. Care about the satisfaction levels of your employees. Support improvement and reward success. Caring about your work and your business is contagious, and it should start with you.

Be knowledgeable: Who is your target audience? What do your customers want from companies in your industry? What are your competitors’ strategies? What are the opinions of your employees and clients about your business? From your company to your employees, to your clients, to your products and services, know the ins and outs. The more feedback you receive, the more you can direct and understand.

Focus on work environment: Executive Suites at Lakewood Ranch is your top Bradenton/Lakewood Ranch/Sarasota provider of executive suites for a reason—we know the importance of a professional, healthy and positive work environment and how it encourages success!

Care about image and location: In the world of business, first impressions go an awful long way, especially if you are an unknown trying to get business from a prospect that has been in business for a while. Executive Suites at Lakewood Ranch knows that your company deserves the finest. Our building is in a prestigious Lakewood Ranch location that creates a professional, active and high-status image for you.

Delegate: Teamwork is key! Learn the skillsets of your employees and delegate tasks accordingly. Delegating gives you more time to run your business and focus on your core competencies, while giving others further opportunities to invest themselves in your company. If you don’t have employees then delegate your tasks to the friendly and professional administrative staff at Executive Suites at Lakewood Ranch. We work really hard to make you look really good.

Reputation: A company that truly desires success will seek more than profits. Keep the needs of your customers in mind! Satisfied customers equal repeat customers, and research shows that repeat customers are likely to spend 67 percent more than new customers. Not only that, it is much cheaper to retain than to recruit, so make it a point to not only attract clients, but to keep them coming back for more.

Keep it simple: The best problem solvers are ones that not only find an effective solution, but also the most efficient, simple and sustainable answer. Take care of business while steering clear from overly complex solutions.

Be flexible: Every company knows that no matter how carefully you plan there is always the possibility that something happens or a decision is made that changes the game. As long as your company’s operations have room for flexibility and your employees have open minds, several doors to opportunity and success will remain open even if one closes.

Keep accurate records: While the task can be tedious, keeping detailed records of all business activity can be invaluable. Costs can be reduced and controlled, audits can be made easier, and time can be spent more efficiently. Gathering, and most importantly, analyzing the metrics of how your business spends time and money can help you trim the fat and quickly reach your goals.

Differentiate: In other words, free yourself from your competitors! Discover what it is about your business that makes it exceptional. While your company may have similar services and products as others in your industry, identify the part of your business that is unique and makes it stand out from the rest. Use this to show your clients how working with you will be a professional and refreshing experience.

Maintain quality: While saving time and money is crucial for any business, don’t forget the necessity of high quality. Whether in customer service, products or services, quality is the foundation of success.

Plan for growth: With success comes development and growth, so plan for it! Executive Suites at Lakewood Ranch offers flexible workspace solutions that provide offices for one to many people, with the option of moving into larger executive office suites in the same location to meet the needs of your growing business.

Have fun: Most importantly, enjoy your work! Keep you and your employees from burning out by maintaining the passion and drive for success. Cultivate a supportive, healthy work environment that will make your employees proud to work for you and your clients happy to work with you.

What does success mean to you? Here at Executive Suites at Lakewood Ranch, the provider of high quality executive suites in the Bradenton/Lakewood Ranch/ Sarasota area, we know what businesses need to make their visions of success a reality. We have worked closely with a large number of different companies and organizations to learn what it takes to make it in business and have fashioned our suites and the corporate culture to nurture your success.

Oh, and the fifteenth step for business success? It is to locate your business at Executive Suites at Lakewood Ranch. Stop in and see why.

Four Reasons For A Professional Office Space

4 Reasons a Professional Office Space is better than Open-Plan Offices

There can be benefits to open-plan office layouts such as greater interaction among workers or increasing the flexibility of a space but for a lot of people there are reasons that a dedicated office space is preferred. Below are four of the most oft-cited reasons that a professional office space is better than open-plan offices.

1) Fewer Interruptions

The ability to separate yourself from other co-workers when needed and have someone else take care of answering the phone can reduce the stress of environmental stimuli and allow you to prioritize and focus on important tasks.

2) Privacy

If you meet with existing clients or potential clients in person, having an open-plan office may make them uneasy or may make it difficult for you to meet with people face-to-face as often as you would like. In addition, there may be phone calls or business issues that need to be discussed that are uncomfortable to talk about in semi-public locations.

3) Feeling Less Crowded

Simply providing a more enclosed space as opposed to short walls that you can see over may help people feel less crowded. It can be difficult to concentrate when co-workers keep popping by a space or talking loudly on the phone.

4) Having a dedicated space

Individuals often have different tasks depending on their job functions and sometimes need different layouts or furniture for different functions. Instead of thinking of everyone’s workspace as the same, an individual office can be personalized based on whether that person does a lot of filing, drawing, or computer work, for example.

Come see what we have to offer and experience our professional and welcoming office environment today! Detailed information on the services Executive Suites at Lakewood Ranch offers can be found here, but feel free to contact us (941.373.1400) and take a tour if you have specific questions about your business needs!