This is the last in a multi-part series of success tips from Sir Richard Branson. These tips are from his book, “Like A Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School.”
Cut ties without burning bridges.
Business ventures with another person, be it a friend or a partner, don’t always work out. If this is the case, successful entrepreneurs know when to part ways.
But just because you decide to go in another direction doesn’t mean things have to end badly, especially with a friend, says Branson. Handle any problems quickly and head-on, and end the relationship as amicably as possible.
Pick up the phone.
It is great to be tech-savvy, but don’t text or email when you should be calling. “The quality of business communications has become poorer in recent years as people avoid phone calls and face-to-face meetings, I can only assume, in some misguided quest for efficiency,” Branson says.
Problems are more difficult to solve by text or email, and “there is nothing efficient about allowing a small problem to escalate,” says Branson, when it could have been easily addressed with a phone call.
Change shouldn’t be feared, but it should be managed.
“Companies aren’t future-proof,” says Branson, and nothing lasts forever. An entrepreneur should be prepared to adapt, and avoid being nostalgic about the company itself.
“Sometimes you have to take your company in a new direction because circumstances and opportunities have changed.” If this is the case, Branson advises that you should “find ways to inspire all employees to think like entrepreneurs … so the more responsibility you give people the better they will perform.”
When it comes to making mistakes, bounce back, don’t fall down.
Your decision will not always be the best decision. Everyone makes mistakes, but the best thing you can do in the face of a mistake is own up to it.
Honesty isn’t just the best policy, it’s the only policy, notes Branson. When a mistake is made, don’t let it consume you. Uncover the problem and get to work fixing it.
Be a leader, not a boss.
Branson sees the classic image of “the boss” as an anachronism. Being bossy is not a desirable trait in a manager, he says. A boss orders while a leader organizes.
“Perhaps, therefore, it is odd that if there is any one phrase that is guaranteed to set me off it’s when someone says to me, ‘Okay, fine. You’re the boss!'” says Branson. “What irks me is that in 90 percent of such instances what that person is really saying is ‘Okay, then, I don’t agree with you but I’ll roll over and do it because you’re telling me to. But if it doesn’t work out I’ll be the first to remind everyone that it wasn’t my idea.'”
A good corporate leader is someone who doesn’t just execute his or her own ideas, but also inspires others to come forth with their own.
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