Sir Richard Branson’s Advice For Entrepreneurs: Don’t Be Afraid Of Fear
FORBES: “If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.” Small businesses have a lot to thank legendary racing driver Mario Andretti for, as this should be the mantra of all budding entrepreneurs.
It is normal for entrepreneurs to feel out of control and worry that the rug could be pulled from underneath them at any moment. These are growing pains for every ambitious founder trying to build a business from scratch, and ones that every successful entrepreneur will have experienced at some point.
Don’t worry if you are going through some tough times and fearing the worst, I guarantee you are not the only one feeling that way—I know I have in the past. The day after we launched Virgin Atlantic, the bank manager came to my house and threatened to shut us down. I pushed him out the front door and called my team to try and work out a way of solving this problem together. It was a very sweaty moment.
A touch of the jitters sharpens the mind, gets the adrenaline flowing and helps you focus. It is important not to fear fear, but to harness it—use it as fuel to take your business to the next level. After all, fear is energy. Conquering your fear will allow you to take the required risks to make your business a success and try new innovative approaches to business problems. The question is: How do you do it?
It is important that when you feel without control you do not bottle up it up and try to push through on your own. That is a recipe for failure. You have to collaborate with friends and colleagues, brainstorm with them, get advice and accept help in any shape or form.
Research from Virgin Media Business found that a third of small businesses never really address their problems and don’t seek support. This is not a time to be proud. Building a business is incredibly difficult and you have to get assistance from others. I learned this very early on and have made delegating responsibility to other talented people a priority ever since.
There are some fantastic resources for entrepreneurs to help them overcome the fear of failure and accelerate their path to success, especially in the UK. Seedcamp, Techstars, Virgin StartUp and the Virgin Media Business Digital Skills Hub are a few valuable sources of advice. Good advice can make the difference between success and failure.
Britain has always been a great place to start your own business. It is one of the most respected nations in the world for innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, but we need to keep pushing boundaries further than ever before through entrepreneurship. I believe this is the best way to drive our economy forward. If we don’t fuel innovation, it will wither, taking part of us with it.
Entrepreneurs and growing businesses are the engine of our economy and we can make sure things stay that way by helping encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs. It’s our best chance to inject innovative products and services that enrich people’s lives into our economy. Imagine our economy without them. Every business, even Facebook, Microsoft and Virgin, were start-ups once and look at what they have grown into. The next Virgin company could be around the corner—we just need to help empower them.
Growing companies will often feel like they are alone and fighting an uphill battle. This was certainly the case when I started out in business over 40 years ago. Back then, entrepreneurship and starting your own business was harder and less accepted than it is today, with less external support so readily on offer.
In fact, if it wasn’t for my mother, Eve, finding and selling an unclaimed necklace, which she gave the proceeds of to me, I don’t think Virgin would have ever made it. There is such a thin line between success and failure—every bit of help counts.
That’s why I launched Virgin Media Business’ #VOOM: Pitch to Rich 2015 last month. We want to give more businesses with enormous potential a chance to make their idea part of the UK business success story and already have 700 businesses who think they have what it takes. With a £1million prize fund up for grabs (along with a year’s worth of mentoring from organizations in the Virgin Group), I think this will be the competition to do just that.
Ideas are flooding in every day—I can’t wait to hear yours.