In this article, I list some famous Richard Branson quotes, business lessons, life lessons, and leadership lessons that have inspired me over the years.
My genuine and heartfelt admiration for the Virgin Group owner first came from reading the Richard Branson autobiography, Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way.
It disproved the idea that doing business has to be stuffy and formal, and that it can’t be fun, creative, disruptive, and personality-driven. Even before the internet, the Virgin airlines owner was an influencer and a master in the art of self-promotion and building a brand.
Branson struggled with dyslexia in school and dropped out to start the Student youth magazine. He then launched the Virgin brand with a music store called Virgin Records, which helped him build his fortune.
In his MasterClass on Disruptive Entrepreneurship, Richard Branson reveals how he overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to bring his dreams to life with his world-renowned Virgin brands that have disrupted and changed industries — from music to travel to space — forever.
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- Richard Branson Quotes & Business Lessons for Entrepreneurs
- #1. Business is supposed to be fun
- #2. Look beyond making money
- #3. Believe in abundance
- #4. Be bold and have courage
- #5. Say yes and then learn how to do it
- #6. Treat everyone with respect
- #7. Be open to new ways of seeing things
- #8. Embrace failure & be unconventional
- #9. Trust your instincts
- #10. Learn from your mistakes
- #11. Happiness is not about doing, it’s about being
- #12. Family comes first
- Richard Branson MasterClass on Disruptive Entrepreneurship
- Bestselling Books by Richard Branson
Richard Branson Quotes & Business Lessons for Entrepreneurs
In this article, I’ve listed some famous quotes by Richard Branson, along with his business lessons and life lessons that have inspired me over the years.
#1. Business is supposed to be fun
Throughout my life as an entrepreneur, I’ve been inspired by Sir Richard Branson’s ability to imbue the Virgin Group with his fun and adventurous brand of personality.
The Virgin Galactic owner is known to abhor wearing ties and formal wear and to have said, “Business isn’t about ties, suits, and briefcases. It’s about adventure.”
“Business isn’t about ties, suits, and briefcases. It’s about adventure.”
Launched in 1970, when the hippie counterculture movement was still going strong, the Virgin brand has always spelled fun and is about not taking oneself too seriously.
Another Richard Branson saying on fun, from his book, The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership, is, “Fun is one of the most important – and underrated – ingredients in any successful venture.”
“Fun is one of the most important – and underrated – ingredients in any successful venture.”
Along with the rest of the world, I was thoroughly entertained by his ability to pull off hilarious and newsworthy PR stunts that most of us would have found embarrassing. This is a man who takes fun seriously but refuses to take himself too seriously.
Here’s one of my favorite Richard Branson quotes from Losing My Virginity:
“Fun is at the core of the way I like to do business and it has been key to everything I’ve done from the outset. More than any other element, fun is the secret of Virgin’s success.
I am aware that the idea of business as being fun and creative goes right against the grain of convention, and it’s certainly not how they teach it at some of those business schools, where business means hard grind and lots of ‘discounted cash flows’ and net’ present values’.”
I absolutely agree that we tend to make work and business too much of a grind and struggle, resulting in exhaustion and burnout.
What Richard Branson taught me was that business is supposed to be fun, and if you lose that, you’ve lost the reason why you’re in business in the first place. As he writes in his book, Screw It, Let’s Do It: Lessons In Life:
“As soon as something stops being fun, I think it’s time to move on. Life is too short to be unhappy. Waking up stressed and miserable is not a good way to live.”
In his MasterClass on Disruptive Entrepreneurship, Richard Branson reveals that growing up his nickname was ‘Let’s Go’, because he was always hungry for adventure, always reaching for the stars, just like his amazing mother, Eve Branson, taught him.
But most importantly, he teaches that dreams are only worth pursuing, problems are only worth solving, and life is only worth living if you have fun along the way. As the Virgin Atlantic owner says, “Entrepreneurship should be a fantastic adventure, or you shouldn’t even bother.”
“Entrepreneurship should be a fantastic adventure, or you shouldn’t even bother.”
#2. Look beyond making money
Another lesson I’ve learned from the life of Richard Branson is that you need to look beyond just making money as your motivation for doing business.
Like many entrepreneurs, Branson started with humble beginnings, going on to use his ingenuity and creativity to build the Virgin brands and group of companies.
He’s also a philanthropist and has gone above and beyond to contribute and make a difference in the world with the non-profit foundation, Virgin Unite.
He also lends his influential voice to worthy causes, like dyslexia, and environmental and social issues, such as providing healthcare in Africa’s rural areas.
In his autobiography, Losing My Virginity, Richard Branson writes:
“I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive then I believe you are better off not doing it. A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.”
In his book, Screw Business As Usual: Turning Capitalism into a Force for Good, Richard Branson reveals his vision for the future to turn capitalism upside down; shift our values from a profit focus to caring for people, communities, and the planet; and turn our work into something we both love and are proud of.
Although many of us go into business to earn a living, we soon learn that making money cannot be our only motivation, especially if we have a story that will inspire and benefit others.
This is one of the reasons why I choose to write books and give many of them away for free; to share my experiences, and my life lessons, and to inspire anyone who may benefit from them.
#3. Believe in abundance
I’ve never met a successful person who didn’t believe in abundance; and, by this, I mean success in all areas of life – finances, relationships, joy, meaning, and purpose.
All billionaires have a belief in abundance, or they would not be where they are. If you have a scarcity mindset, you’ll find life a struggle and, even if you attract abundance for a while, your lackful beliefs will prevent you from holding on to it.
If you believe that there are limited opportunities, you’ll fail to see the next one coming. As one of the famous Richard Branson quotes on opportunities, says, “Business opportunities are like buses; there’s always another one coming.”
“Business opportunities are like buses; there’s always another one coming.”
#4. Be bold and have courage
I’ve always admired stories of explorers and adventurers. So, when I read Richard Branson’s autobiography, Losing My Virginity, I was spellbound by his ballooning exploits and tales of crossing the Pacific Ocean in a hot air balloon.
But Branson did not just risk his life to promote the Virgin Brand; he also took huge business risks when it came to opening new markets, getting business funding, and more.
In his business MasterClass, Richard Branson tells the story of his career, and shows you how to pursue your biggest dreams, even if they terrify you — especially if they terrify you! He teaches practical skills to turn your problems into ideas and your ideas into business plans.
“It is only by being bold that you get anywhere. If you are a risk-taker, then the art is to protect the downside.”
#5. Say yes and then learn how to do it
Richard Branson never got past high school, but he had street smarts and a love of learning. Being more of an academic myself, I would never have thought to accept an opportunity before learning how to do it.
So when I first read this Richard Branson famous quote in Losing My Virginity, it astounded me and made me realize just how much I had been holding myself back.
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
It not only opened my eyes to learning new things but also to learning them on the fly; and made me much more creative and courageous as a writer and creative person.
After all, life is short, and as another one of Richard Branson’s quotes says, “Life is a helluva lot more fun if you say yes rather than no.”
“Life is a helluva lot more fun if you say yes rather than no.”
#6. Treat everyone with respect
Unlike some other billionaires (who shall not be named) Branson is known for caring for his employees and his camaraderie with them. This famous quote by Richard Branson on why you should treat your employees well is often shared on LinkedIn.
“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
Another famous Richard Branson quote on employees, that goes counter to popular business wisdom on customers always being right, says that “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
After all, if your employees love working for you, they’ll pass on the same respect and consideration to your customers, and your business will thrive.
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
One of Richard Branson’s sayings in his book, Screw It, Let’s Do It, notes that everyone is worthy of respect, not only the people you want to impress.
The message for entrepreneurs and leaders is to put your employees first and treat them with respect; and that incivility, rudeness, and disrespect should never be tolerated in the workplace.
“Respect is how to treat everyone, not just those you want to impress.”
This is so important today when we’re facing The Great Resignation, and businesses are trying to force employees to return to the office, despite the fact that work from home has been proven to increase productivity.
In fact, on the Virgin blog, Branson explains why he’s following Netflix’s initiative and letting Virgin employees take as much holiday as they want. As he says:
“Flexible working has revolutionized how, where, and when we all do our jobs. So, if working nine to five no longer applies, then why should strict annual leave (vacation) policies?”
#7. Be open to new ways of seeing things
Learning new things and new ways of seeing things is essential for being a good leader. As Richard Branson, writes in his book, Like A Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School, “Only a fool never changes his mind.”
“Only a fool never changes his mind.”
The best leaders are humble enough to learn from others and make the effort to understand another person’s point of view. If you don’t have the humility to do that, leadership is not for you.
Another one of Richard Branson’s quotes on leadership is, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” ~ Richard Branson
The message here is that if you open your mind to seeing things from other people’s points of view, it just might change your way of thinking and help you grow as a person.
#8. Embrace failure & be unconventional
As a teenager, Branson faced significant obstacles, from being dyslexic, broke, a high school dropout, and having no experience whatsoever in building a business.
But, as he explains in his MasterClass in Disruptive Entrepreneurship, Richard Branson did not let these challenges stop him. Instead, they inspired him.
Dyslexia allowed him to see things from different perspectives, while his lack of experience let him go after every dream without being weighed down by the rules of convention.
In his book, Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur, Branson writes that every business, like a painting, operates according to its own rules.
There are many ways to run a successful company. What works once may never work again. What everyone tells you never to do may just work, once, he says.
There are no rules. You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over, and it’s because you fall over that you learn to save yourself from falling over.
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”
#9. Trust your instincts
One of the things I have noticed about successful people is that most of them have good instincts and tend to trust them.
Branson is one of those entrepreneurs who tend to trust their instincts about people or business opportunities. In Losing My Virginity, he writes:
“In the same way that I tend to make up my mind about people within thirty seconds of meeting them, I also make up my mind about whether a business proposal excites me within about thirty seconds of looking at it. I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics.”
#10. Learn from your mistakes
Despite his immense success and wealth, Richard Branson doesn’t claim to be perfect. In Losing My Virginity, he recounts one of the youthful misadventures that landed him in prison.
Branson’s high school principal once told him that he would either become a millionaire or end up in prison. He went on to do both, having spent a night in Dover Prison for tax fraud, before his mother arrived and posted his bail.
Branson was jailed for trying to avoid paying taxes on merchandise sold at Virgin Records, his record shop on London’s Oxford Street, by claiming to export albums that were actually sold in England.
In his autobiography, he writes that ever since that night in Dover prison, he has never been tempted to break his vow and succumb to some form of bribe, or had his way by offering one.
“My parents always drummed into me that all you have in life is your reputation: you may be very rich, but if you lose your good name, you’ll never be happy.”
#11. Happiness is not about doing, it’s about being
One of my favorite quotes by Richard Branson has to do with his belief that happiness is the reason for his success. On the Virgin blog, Branson writes:
“Most people would assume my business success, and the wealth that comes with it has brought me happiness. In fact, it’s the reverse. I’m successful, wealthy, and connected because I am happy. People get caught up in doing what they think will make them happy, but this is where they fail. Happiness is not about doing, it’s about being.”
#12. Family comes first
One of the most endearing qualities that set Richard Branson apart from a lot of billionaires is his wonderful family life, no doubt because he believes in putting family first.
“However important business is, family always comes first.”
Not only is the Virgin company owner a loving son, and doting father to his kids, Sam and Holly Branson, but also a loving spouse to his wife, Joan Templeman, whom he met in 1976, and has been married to since 1989.
In fact, he describes her as “the most understanding wife on Earth.” As one of Richard Branson’s quotes on success states:
“In the end, I’ve realized that legacy is not important, except to your children and family and friends. When I’m on my deathbed, I just want to feel as if I have loved and been loved, done some good in the world, and made a difference here and there.”
I hope you enjoyed this list of famous Richard Branson quotes that share profound lessons in business, life, and leadership from a billionaire entrepreneur who makes running a business seem daring, adventurous, and fun.
You can follow Sir Richard Branson on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Richard Branson MasterClass on Disruptive Entrepreneurship
Making it big can sometimes be as simple as following your passion. Ask Sir Richard Branson, business mogul, and billionaire.
In this Masterclass, Sir Richard Branson shows you how to turn your wildest dreams into profitable businesses while having fun.
The Virgin Group owner built a business empire by solving problems that fascinated him, disrupting every industry he touched, and pursuing seemingly impossible dreams.
The adventure took him from obscurity to the stars. Learn how you, too, can come up with ideas that are so good they’re terrifying, lean into your fear, and achieve liftoff.
In this Masterclass with the Virgin owner, you’ll learn how to:
- Embrace & leverage frustration – Entrepreneurship is all about problem-solving. When you see your frustrations as opportunities, you can have worthwhile adventures.
- Inspire yourself and others – Start with your own passion to inspire yourself and others. Make it a shared goal. Then gather incredible people around it.
- Improve your listening skills – The key to success is all in the ears. Great entrepreneurs are first and foremost great listeners.
- Earn attention – Market your company even if you lack marketing funds. Do something inexpensive, unexpected, and memorable.
Find your passion, defy convention, and use failure as rocket fuel. Discover Richard Branson’s unconventional approach to business and how he’s used it to disrupt industries and reach for the stars.
Click here to join Richard Branson’s MasterClass
Bestselling Books by Richard Branson
- Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way
- Like A Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School
- Screw It, Let’s Do It: Lessons In Life
- Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur
- The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership
- Screw Business As Usual: Turning Capitalism into a Force for Good
Learn entrepreneur skills and get the business training you need to start a business with a business MasterClass by the world’s best leaders and champions.
Images credit: Steve Jurvetson, CC BY 2.0 & UNclimatechange – Flickr
© 2022, Priya Florence Shah. All rights reserved.
Priya Florence Shah is a bestselling author, an award-winning online publisher, and an online branding consultant. Download her free personal branding eBooks and check out Devi2Diva, her book on emotional self-care for women. In her spare time, Priya writes science-fiction novels and poetry and chills with her two-legged and four-legged kids.