A high-school dropout and a man forced out of his own company. Not necessarily traits you would associate with successful people. However, these are real things that happened to two of the most influential and successful business men the world has ever seen — Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. So how did they, and others, become so successful? And how can you follow in their footsteps?
Whether you have dreams of becoming the next Richard Branson or of being more successful than Bill Gates, or even if you’re happy with more low-key business goals, there is a huge amount of business insight and acumen that you can learn from the most successful business owners in the world.
“Small is beautiful” — Richard Branson
Founder of the Virgin Group, Branson believes that a larger company doesn’t necessarily provide a competitive advantage. He believes smaller companies are more able to preserve their customer-focus and personality, and he practices what he preaches. When one of his companies gets too big, he splits the company in two; for example when Virgin Atlantic grew, he split it to create Virgin America. He also advises that small companies maintain an empowered workforce which understands the strengths and weaknesses of each individual.
So, don’t focus too much on growing your business too quickly. Appreciate that smaller businesses can maintain their unique style and have the agility to react to opportunities or threats as they occur. By focussing on slow and steady growth, you can remain in control of areas of your business than can be overlooked, or relinquished too early. Then, when the time comes, you may want to split your organisation, like Branson did. If that happens you will be fully aware of the organisation’s position, how to best to divide your assets and how to retain complete understanding of the financial impact a division might have.
“Value your own time” — Bill Gates
Gates once said, “no matter how much money you have you can’t buy more time”. As the creator of the world’s largest PC software company, with over 40 years of business experience, Gates has learnt to manage his own time effectively and to use it wisely. He prioritises the tasks which matter most to him, and, if he feels he doesn’t need to attend a meeting, he won’t. He also advises business owners to take time to communicate with the people closest to them, and honour important commitments.
As a new business manager, understanding the value of your own time is important too. We are all given the same number of hours in the day, and if you use them wisely, it can pay off.
By using tools that can help you save time, more time will become available to follow up with leads and generate sales, putting you firmly in control of your business and your personal life. Digital tools, like TweetDeck which can manage and monitor your social media channels, or Tally Accounts, which provides you with full online accountancy services that you can manager from the comfort of your own home, can help you save valuable time on tiresome tasks, leaving you with more hours to focus on the important stuff.
“Let everything be your teacher” – Steve Jobs
Forever associated with the Apple brand, and the driving force behind the launch of iconic predicts like the iPhone and iMac, Steve Jobs provided a wealth of inspiration to business leaders across the globe. As well as technology, Jobs was passionate about learning from all types of sectors and people. He hired skilled technical programming teams who had interests in music, poetry and art; individuals who brought a diverse range of skills and perspective to the products they were creating.
As a new business owner, there are plenty of opportunities to learn and develop. From signing up to educational seminars or attending networking events to make new contacts, to taking advantage of the in-depth reporting features of online accountancy tools to gain accurate insight into your business’ finances and turnover on the move, there are always opportunities to learn.
When building up your business, it’s important to learn from and maybe follow the footsteps of business leaders like Branson, Gates and Jobs. However, it’s even more important to create your own success, make your own decisions and walk your own path.
Richard Stonier is co-founder and partner of online accounting software firm, Tally Accounts.