I’m often asked how I got to where I am, and how the Virgin brand achieved all that it has. While there are no shortcuts to success, certain attitudes and actions can help. Here are my top ten tips for doing business the Virgin way:
1. Follow your dreams.
You will live a much better life if you pursue your passions. People who work on the things that they love usually enjoy life more than everyone else does simply because they are chasing their dreams.
2. Do some good.
If you aren’t making a difference in other people’s lives, you shouldn’t be in business - it’s that simple. Companies have a responsibility to make a difference in the world: They owe this to their community, their staff, their customers, everyone. The amazing part is that doing good is also good for business - what are you waiting for?
3. Believe in your ideas: Give your venture everything you’ve got.
A passionate commitment to your business and personal objectives can make all the difference between success and failure. If you aren’t proud of what you’re doing, why should anybody else be? And don’t get suckered into blindly pursuing profits and growth. If you stay focused on being the best at what you do, it’s more likely that the rest will follow.
4. Have fun, and make sure that your team members are enjoying themselves too.
Fun is one of the most important—and underrated—components of any successful venture. If you’re not enjoying yourself, it’s probably time to call it quits and try something else. If your employees are engaged and having fun, and they genuinely care about your customers, they will enjoy their work more and do a better job. Hire people who look for the best in others, who lavish more praise than they dole out criticism, and who genuinely love what they do.
5. Don’t give up.
On every adventure that I have undertaken—whether it was setting up a business, flying around the world in a balloon or racing across an ocean in a powerboat—I have faced difficult moments when the easiest thing to do would have been to throw in the towel and walk away. But you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve by tenaciously sticking to your goals. When you fail, get back up, brush yourself off and try again.
6. Listen, take lots of notes and keep setting yourself new challenges.
If you don’t write down your own (and others’) spontaneous ideas, they can vanish in the blink of an eye. So be sure to keep track of your goals: make lists. And remember to listen more and talk less. You’ll be amazed at the obstacles a listening culture can overcome.
7. Delegate, and spend more time with your family.
The art of delegation is one of the key skills that entrepreneurs must master. Be sure to “hire to your weaknesses.” Bringing on people who can do the tasks you aren’t particularly good at can free you up to plan for your company’s future. This strategy also allows you to spend more time with your family, which is really the most important thing of all.
Oh yes, and don’t forget to as your family for input on your latest big idea; like I should have done before we launched Mates condoms, for instance!
8. Communicate, collaborate and communicate some more.
Keep it simple, stupid . and above all else, work and play with others. Mushrooms might grow when they are kept in the dark and fed a diet of dung, but that strategy doesn’t work with people. The Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and companies like Pixar built open work environments that invited intermingling and the sharing of visions; you need that atmosphere too.
9. Turn off your laptop and iPhone, and get out there.
Don’t sit in front of a screen all day. Switch everything off and venture out into the world regularly. If you’ve been neglecting this part of life, start with your own backyard, then expand your field of vision. With so many fascinating people to meet, exciting adventures to embark upon and rewarding challenges to undertake, there’s no time to lose. As the saying goes: Life isn’t a dress rehearsal.
10. Do what you love, and keep a couch in the kitchen.
As long as you are surrounded by the people you love and you’re doing what you love, it really doesn’t matter where you live or how much money you make. When we are on Necker Island, my family tends to spend most of our time in the kitchen together. If you have a roof over your head and a partner you love, you really don’t need too much more.
Now, I really must get back to my hammock so I can do some business’ around here that’s known as the Virgin Islands way!
(This column was adapted from Richard Branson’s forthcoming book, The Virgin Way. For more information, go to virgin.com/richardbranson/books.)
(Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group and companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Active. He maintains a blog at www.virgin.com/richard-branson/blog. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/richardbranson. To learn more about the Virgin Group: www.virgin.com.)
(Questions from readers will be answered in future columns. Please send them to RichardBranson@nytimes.com. Please include your name, country, e-mail address and the name of the Web site or publication where you read the column.)