Want to start a business but didn’t? Richard Branson Has the Perfect Advice for You

Thirty-six years ago, Richard Branson was sitting at an airport and waiting to board an American Airlines flight to the British Virgin Islands. After this the airline canceled the flight.

Frustrated, 28-year-old Branson went to the back of the airport and used a credit card to rent a plane. He borrowed a blackboard, wrote, “Virgin Airlines: One-way to the Virgin Islands, $39,” walked around the airport, and managed to fill every seat on the plane. When the flight landed a passenger said, “Speed ​​up the service a little and you could be in the airline business.”

The next day Branson called Boeing to ask if they had a used 747 for sale.

Even though starting an airline wasn’t on Branson’s radar—until his flight got canceled.

That story is the epitome of Branson’s entrepreneurial career: not only recognizing (because everyone has good ideas) but then seizing opportunities to build brands that offer better service, better quality, better experiences, something better than established brands. or hopefully everything).

Fifty-six years after starting its first business at the age of 16, Virgin Group is made up of more than 40 different companies in sectors such as travel, hospitality, financial services, media… and even space. Branson’s career serves as a master class in starting a business.

Branson’s Class on Disruptive Entrepreneurship Was Just Released master Class, the online learning platform where clients get unlimited access to over 150 instructors such as Sarah Blakely, Bog Iger, Malcolm Gladwell, Howard Schultz and even Metallica. (His class also has a 50-page downloadable class guide with stories, tips, and a list of the books he recommends.)

I saw it last week. It’s great: part nuts and bolts, part career retrospective, totally inspiring.

Dive in to catch what you believe in when others don’t, without trying to make sure the numbers work. That second lesson is, “Keep the fire burning with your first undertakings.”

“Take the Virgin Atlantic,” Branson says. “If I went to a firm of accountants and said, ‘I run a record company. I’m looking to buy a secondhand 747 to take British Airways with my 300 planes and Pan Am with my 300 planes’ Am… can you tell me if we’re going to make money or lose money? I knew the answer was going to be, so I saved money on an accountant and just screwed it up, let’s do it. Come on Let it. Happened.”

He took the same approach with his latest business venture, Virgin Voyages. Branson felt instinctively that there were a large number of people who would never go on a trip. (He was one of those people.)

They realized that creating a fun Virgin experience just for adults would not only win over existing cruisers, but it would also open up the market dramatically.

“Great thing,” Branson says, “after building the Virgin brand over many years, people will let us go when we start a new venture. We just have to fix it. Luckily, we have the team. People who have worked with various Virgin companies for many years. The person who designed the upscale lounges at Heathrow also designed the cruise experience; people don’t mind plane delays as they lounge like to live in.” (Laughs.)

That eighth lesson is, “We, Not Me: Bringing Value Out of Your Team.”

Yet while it’s all quite the big picture, Branson is also a stickler for detail. Not only did he enjoy the experience of going to space, he carried a notebook, took notes, and returned with ideas to make the experience even better for the next person.

“Many people who run companies,” Branson says, “listen no. They don’t take notes. They don’t come back to people when they have good ideas, or have problems… and that’s the primary The reason is people leave companies.”

That lesson is nine, “Listen deeply and get the job done.”

And here is the best part.

“Everything I’ve done in my life is spontaneous,” Branson says. “It was an unusual challenge for me to analyze why I do things. I would tell a story and then think, ‘I have to give a reason for this.’ (Laughs.) I left school when I was fifteen, so literally everything I know comes from keeping my eyes open and learning from the real world.”

And, as Steve Jobs once said, letting the dots connect themselves backwards. Sir Richard’s farewell words to aspiring entrepreneurs whose dream is to start a business but don’t?

“Don’t ask everyone if it’s a good idea,” he says. “The best way to find out if it’s a good idea is to try it. If you fall flat on your face, lift yourself up, try again and again, and again, and again, when until you succeed.”

This is the biggest lesson you’ll learn from Branson’s class on Masterclasses.

Branson — a dyslexic high school dropout — didn’t believe that successful people had special talents or gifts from startup gods that he didn’t. He lauded his success and thought, “That’s awesome… and if he can do it, why can’t I?”

Watch Branson’s class, and you might as well think, “Why not me?” You will realize that, when you are ready to dream big and work hard, there is no reason why you can’t be successful either.

In the least it doesn’t matter to you.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.