from Entrepreneur.com 27 Aug 12 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz 5/15
Looking for that Edge. Over the years we’ve started many Virgin businesses out of frustration at the way things were done in established sectors. Whether it was airlines, mobile telephones or financial services, we’ve stood out by focusing on ways to improve people’s lives through better service, innovation and value. Sometimes a small detail, such as more transparent pricing or a friendlier staff, gave us our edge. Our humor & tone also helped attract & keep customers. I try to keep bureaucracy to a minimum and remind my teams that business, as well as life, should be fun. When you’re starting out with a small business and an enthusiastic team, it’s relatively easy to keep the focus on details and high-quality service, with a light touch. But how can you retain the passion and attention to detail after your business becomes established, successful and larger? That’s the challenge !!!
Divide to Conquer. I’ve mentioned how we grew our music businesses by splitting them, creating smaller units so we could maintain that vibe & hunger. By the time we sold to EMI, Virgin Records was made up of several small independent labels, which fostered healthy competition among them for new bands. This approach wouldn’t work with some of our other companies that require scale & size to compete against much larger rivals. So we’ve had to adapt our businesses to maintain Virgin’s innovative spirit, especially when we have grown through acquisition or international expansion.
Virgin America is a good case. This upstart airline in the U.S. is renowned for its high-tech planes, quirky marketing & fabulous crew. This summer it will celebrate its fifth birthday. We have more than 2,500 staff members already, and there are no signs of growth slowing. We must work hard to keep the enthusiasm that marked our early development. To do it, CEO David Cush, embarks on an annual training program known as “Refresh.” The point is to keep our teams up to date & connected, which prevents them from becoming complacent or settling for the status quo.
Keeping your Spirit while you grow. Recently I hosted a conference with a number of fast-growing U.K. companies. One of the speakers was Richard Reed, a founder of Innocent, the British maker of smoothies & soft drinks. Richard founded the business with two friends, in 1998. Since then the business has grown to 200 million pounds (about $315 million) in annual sales, and Coca-Cola has come in as a majority shareholder. Still, the founders have managed to retain that spirit of innovation and fun that marked their beginning. It’s fascinating how they managed to keep their magic formula after the big investment. I’ll try to summarize what they did because I believe there are many lessons in their experience for entrepreneurs around the world.
[ Richard Branson’s 5 Rules for Good Business. 1) Mission, 2) your Organization, 3) Top Team, 4) Vision, 5) Listen to your Customers, in Premium Content ]