I wrote this book summary when I was reading it in 2013. Like A Virgin is a great book. It is filled with stories of Richard Branson. Richard Branson started since he was really young and eventually built a business empire. It is a must-read book for aspiring entrepreneurs. Take risks, build things. Hope you enjoy this summary. Summary is in point form, in easy-to-understand sentences.
▶5 secrets in starting a business and making it work:
1. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it.
2. Be innovative – create something different. Something that can change the way people live !
3. Pride of association works wonders. All employees have to be proud to work in my companies ! People outside my company are also proud to associate with my companies !
4. Lead by listening. Listen to people, learn from them. Never openly criticize people, never lose temper, quickly appreciate and thank people for jobs well done.
5. Be visible. Go out and meet people. Meet employees and talk to them. Talk to customers, listen to what they tell you, good and bad, and act on it. Jot down questions, concerns, and good ideas.
▶”People Power – The Real Engine of Any Business” , good people are not crucial to the business, they are the business! Remember that there are 3 things that can make a business successful (from Robert Kiyosaki): Team, Mission, Leadership.
▶The key skills are in my ability to follow my vision, the ability to listen to others and the art of delegation.
▶When negotiating, remain calm and collected. If I am getting angry, take a deep breath, realise I am taking it too personally and take a step back. Rely on those around me to help me out. Teamwork will usually carry the day. Less aggression and more determination is what I need.
▶Great customer service is a chain. A chain from the top management to the low management, to the front-liners, to the customer, to the friends and family of the customers. And then, remember to “catch people doing something right.”
▶Small companies can beat big companies by emphasizing on agility. Big companies have a huge hierarchy that makes them slow in making a decision. If small companies make extra service for customers, they also need larger capital to provide the same extra service as they need to standardize as much as possible to all the branch globally.
▶Richard kept splitting his companies into smaller companies to ensure that they kept their sense of competition and urgency.
▶There is an opportunity in every risk. We have to be ready to take risks, but we always need to have the escape hatch if things didn’t work out. Negotiate my way to create an escape hatch. I am going to protect my other businesses and the people in the businesses. It is the people who make my company exceptional. If things don’t work out, I will take the escape hatch. I can gather my team and embark the next venture again, a lot wiser.
▶Managers and business leaders should watch for this tendency. A company where the staff overuses the word “they”, is a company with problems. There is a sign that people up and down the chain of command aren’t communicating.
The staff should use “we” if the communication in the company is alright, instead of using “they” and “I”.
Also, avoid “us” and “them”. It means there are groups in the company, usually front-line and management staff.
Middle management is a good place to look for the source of the problem.
▶When we are creating something significant in the company, we need to involve marketing, design, and management teams from the very beginning. Front-line staff work alongside with the project. So that the project will be something everyone agrees on and there is a sense of ownership in it.
Because WE can come up with the result as a TEAM.
▶If an employee said “they” mentioning other employees in front of me. I can smile and say, “They? Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you worked here.”
▶Make people in my team talk to each other! One-on-one meetings and old-fashioned brainstorming are vital to the success of any growing business. Sometimes rather than sending emails to another department, it’s better to walk over there and talk to them. 🙂
▶There’s no perfect 10. If you hit 9, get to work and try to improve it again. If you hit 9, you can opt to start selling your service or product, because there’s no perfect 10. Take calculated risks, it usually has even better gain, and safer than no risk at all.
▶Look into my brand from the OUTSIDE. Imagine that I am a customer every time I want to evaluate my business. For example: Calling my business’s customer service. Is there any way to improve it? Yes.
▶Customers aren’t always right. They often are right. We need to know what we stand for. The front-line employees need to know how to negotiate when there are complaints. We will not change what we stand for, to compensate a complaint. But we will always provide the best customer service we can.
▶Sometimes pursuing my passion means that I will have to ignore others’ warnings and even jeers.
▶I do what I love, and I love what I do. Because I will be more persistent, inspired, and dedicated if I love what I do. And eventually, my spirit will be shared down to my staff and my customers, and inspire them.
▶”Think different.”, it is a fundamental advice for every entrepreneur to take to heart.
▶Monitoring expenditure: once a while, at least for every 6 weeks, you should sign all the cheques and every invoice that went out. After you are familiar with the company’s daily finances. Usually, you will find something you will say, “What on earth this cheque is for?” And from there, you can cut a lot of unnecessary cost and expenditure. Ask your managing director to do the same too. So that you can focus on bigger vision.
▶Great managers seldom criticize their team members. They bring out the best in people. Like plants need water, people need encouragement so that they can grow and flourish.
▶I need to know whether I am suitable to be the CEO or the Advisor of the business. If I can be the best person to make the business grow, I should continue to be the CEO. If not, I need to find a replacement that can be a better CEO in that particular company, then give him/her a right proportional stake in the business. After that, I can focus on venturing into another businesses / starting another company.
▶The art of making someone as a leader in my company: when it’s time for me to assign someone as CEO of the company, I move my office out of the building. Physically removing myself from the day-to-day functions, then letting someone replace me as head of operations so that I have enough uninterrupted time to look at the big picture and plot the company’s future direction.
▶I must find and hire someone that I can trust to run the business.
The CEO that I assign will not be able to run the company exactly the same way as me.
It is normal to have someone that makes occasional mistakes. But I should not snatch back the control.
This is the only way to instill a true sense of responsibility; it will make my senior management team to run the business as though they own it themselves.
>>Sometimes we need to restructure or change our company. And it is not easy.
Management overseeing any restructuring or merger should find ways to inspire all employees to think like entrepreneurs. Whatever you do, treat them like adults. A person’s conscience is usually the hardest taskmaster of all, so the more responsibility you give people, the better they will perform.
>>If moving on or changing or restructuring is not an option, we can restructure the company so that it’s very small, very specialised, and very expensive. Turn it into ’boutique’ operation. This is an innovation of the highest calibre. Take a large operation and find ways to scale it down, retarget it, and remarket it, all the while adding value that justifies the hike in price.
If we are able to pull off the small and specialised restructuring, our staff may be in charge of a smaller company, but each contributor can have more clout and be much more focused. They will be able to take pride in their successes, and learn quickly and well from their failures.
>>To build leadership in a company, I need to give the leaders big responsibility that they can handle. I need to be PHYSICALLY not in the office so that they can lead the company without me. I need to come at random times and shake hands with everyone in the office to show my presence in the company. I need to get weekly updates from the leaders of the company.
>>During early days of the company, it is true that I may not have a lot of money to truly afford to be generous and give high salary. However, I need to ensure that my employees can have the atmosphere of fun and caring and give employees freedom. It is very vital to the long term success of my business. The thrill and promise of possible success can unite everyone and ensure everyone works long hours in cramped conditions. Even though I have to give a low pay, no one will complain because everyone loves me and the company and excited about the possible success.
>>We need to create a good atmosphere of team spirit and mutual appreciation. We need to celebrate successes. We need to make sure everyone has a great time at work, which will generate great loyalty.
>>When things go wrong, I must teach myself to listen to employees and encourage them to find solutions. If I’m worried about the finances, I will share with my team and listen to their suggestions for improving the situation.
▶Employees will not take responsibility for their own actions if they feel the boss is looking over their shoulders all the time. They will not take an initiative to work that extra hour, make that extra call or squeeze that little bit more of a negotiation.
▶The rot starts at the top. I will always look at my senior team to determine if they are effective team leaders. Letting people go should be my very last lever but if I have someone who is de-motivating the team, I may well have to bite the bullet.
▶Education is about ‘leading out’, not ‘cramming in’. Rather then telling my employees what to do, I should draw out their ideas and opinions and work on it together.
▶Customer service is very very important in a business. The best customer service is the word of mouth – it is highly believable and it is free! Customer service is not only about a culture with customers, it is also a culture in the organisation itself to always create happiness every time.
▶Partner that only provides capital is useful, but a strategic partner that can give you time and space to run your company, while giving constructive advice, is your true friend.
▶Three (3) things to remember:
1. Investing in my people means investing in my company. Make them grow.
2. Lead from the front. Once in a while, I need to experience the front line of my company for a few hours.
3. Make sure the employees have the tools they need to succeed. Especially information.
▶It’s always A-B-C-D. It’s ‘Always Be Connecting Dots’. In business, it’s all about connecting dots from your team, experience, knowledge to add value to the next businesses. When I have experienced in the entertainment industry, I can add entertainment value to my food industry business, and so on.
▶An unhappy customer will tell ten people about a problem while a satisfied customer will only tell four people about a good experience. That’s why we need to have a constant good experience for customers.
▶ I need to work on developing a corporate culture that tries to ‘catch employees doing something right’ and rewards dedication and initiative. Empowering and taking care of my staff is the best way to look after my customers and keep them coming back for more.
▶ The only difference between merely satisfactory delivery and great delivery is an obsessive attention to detail. Every detail – no matter how seemingly significant!
Anyone who aspires to lead a company must develop a habit of taking notes. I need to carry a notebook everywhere I go and take notes. I will pass the notes to the manager of my business and ask him/her to improve the current standard/fix the flaws. This is the real key to getting all the other items to be fixed.
▶ An entrepreneur can only be successful when he/she has a strong team, an entrepreneur cannot succeed alone.
▶ Creating a business can be very tough and lonely experience, many startups fail in their early years, but an entrepreneur cannot look at a setback as a bad experience. It’s just part of the learning curve.
▶ I will earn my customers’ trust, then their loyalty will follow. I just need to keep my message simple, direct, honest, and very public.
▶ I will nurture my own brand with creativity, intuition, and empathy. Brand value is from the inside, within the soul of the business and the founders.
▶ I need to always set the rules of the road, to make sure everyone knows where they are going:
1. What’s the plan? Keep my team informed.
I need to communicate my objectives regularly to ensure that my team has a framework for making their own decisions. Everyone must feel welcome to discuss the team’s objectives, open debate is encouraged, everyone will have a collective responsibility to follow through.
2. Define the rules of the road.
I must define a core set of values for my business.
Everything my team will do will be according to the core values, so we can maintain consistency.
Such as, only start businesses that can be scaled up to a minimum of $1,000,000 revenue annually in 5 years.
3. Focus, focus, focus.
Successfully organizations know what their priorities are: they tackle the really important projects and the rest falls into place.
4. Who’s in charge? It’s up to me.
I must provide clear roles to team members, which enables everyone to do the job of running the business. Once I’ve made the choices, I don’t micromanage. If I make a habit of diving and changing a major project’s direction or otherwise intervening, my people will learn to be dependent on me, and will never reach their true potential. REMEMBER VINCENT.
5. Champion your people’s ideas.
When my team makes a judgement call, I need to follow through with conviction. If I merely cast doubt and let their project languish, my team will not have the impetus or confidence to take the next steps. If I insist on making every big decision myself, I will create a terrible logjam.
6. When mistakes happen, learn from them and move on.
When things go wrong, take the time to review what happened with my team and learn from it together, then MOVE ON.
7. Celebrate our successes.
When someone in my team has a big success, celebrate it and tell others. Success breeds success. We need to always try to catch my team doing something right, it should be part of our everyday work.
▶The best real estate is about ‘location, location, location’. The mantra of running the best business is ‘communication, communication, communication’.
▶Network is really important. I can network with the top players and experts in an industry by attending an event of an industry. I can also network with potential mentors that I might need help from in the future. Networking with other entrepreneurs can also build a relationship to learn from each other and grow together.
▶The only way a business can succeed in the long term is by working to benefit its communities, by addressing social and environmental problems, and to pursue and value these goals over making a profit.
▶The six steps to building a social business:
1. Define my core purpose.
Assess the social and entrepreneurial needs of the communities in which I hope to do business. How can I help tackle the big problems such as lack of training and environmental degradation? What businesses can I build by meeting these needs?
2. Decide what I will value, measure, and report.
Strategy to meet the community needs, set clear goals for my business (remember to achieve profit and sales too), challenge the employees to achieve an equal measure of targeted social and environmental objectives. Set measurement system.
3. Map my assets.
Make a list of resources I have at my disposal: buying power and brand recognition, energy and passion of staff.
4. Mobilise my community.
Meet with community leaders and explain what I hope to achieve. Share my goals, describe my systems, talk about my assets and ask for their advice and expertise. Even better, I take the lead and enlist local businesses and non-profits to work in parallel with me.
5. Evaluate my products, services, and supply chains.
Do I know enough about the people with whom I am doing business? Do my own products and services stand up to the same scrutiny? Is my company truly adding value?
6. Turn up the volume.
Make sure the local press, industry groups, and politicians are familiar with my mission and keep them updated on my achievements. Explain how I intend to do good business that will also be good for the community.
▶”For those who think a business exists to make a profit, I suggest they think again. Business makes a profit to exist. Surely it must exist for some higher, nobler purpose than that.”- Ray Anderson
▶Pay attention to the little things. And the big stuff will be just fine.
▶Business is like life, it should be fun.
▶When I am starting out with a small business and an enthusiastic team, it’s relatively easy to maintain the focus on details and high-quality service with a light touch. But I need to retain the passion and attention to detail after my business becomes established, successful, and larger.
▶”Leaving the planet a little better than when we found it.”
▶Listen to the feedback from customers and employees. Improve and fix the little things.
▶Make sure all employees are connected and updated by having an annual training called ‘Refresh’.
▶Entrepreneurship takes a special kind of courage – I must face a great deal of uncertainty as I launch and maintain my business. The ability to recognise my fears, then make decisions about how to proceed can mean the difference between success and failure for a new company.
▶”The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
▶“Screw it, let’s do it!”
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