Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sir Richard Branson's advice to entrepreneurs

The best business ideas in the world - August 1, 2006
I made and learned from lots of mistakes. In the end, the key is willpower. It's just really hard work to make sure you can keep paying the bills. But I do think one can have too much respect for bank managers.

When we entered the airline business, the very first plane Boeing sent over to us ran into a bunch of birds and lost an engine. Because it hadn't been delivered yet, the insurance didn't cover that, so we were $1.5 million down before we flew our first flight, which took the whole Virgin Group beyond its overdraft facility.

Two days later, as I returned from the inaugural flight, our bank manager was sitting on my doorstep and telling me that he's going to foreclose on the whole business if we don't get the money in by Monday - and that was a Friday.

So I had to scurry around like mad over the weekend to try to get enough money to cover what I owed, which I just managed to do. For most people, bank managers are a bit like doctors - they never leave them because they have too much respect for them.

By daring to be disrespectful, we went from having a $5 million overdraft facility to having a $40 million overdraft facility with a different bank by the end of that week. Where one bank was willing to ruin us based on the assets we had, another bank was willing to give us more credit.

There is a very, very thin dividing line between survival and failure. You've just got to fight and fight and fight and fight to survive.
Amen. I don't think this means you have to be deadly-dull serious (clearly Sir Richard is not) 24x7. Is it possible to have fun _and_ fight fight fight to survive? We'll find out.
blog comments powered by Disqus