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Business lessons learnt from the best in the world

Leadership

As someone who mentors businesses for a living, I spend much of my time researching and reviewing business models, marketing campaigns and advice from the top business leaders and experts from around the world.

In this article, I am going to share some insight from two leaders who have two very different business models. Richard Branson who owns Virgin Airlines and Virgin Mobile and Jim Collins who is an American Business Consultant and Author.

Richard Branson

Richard Branson’s top advice in my option has been:

1. Pay to keep your business known

You can do this with a killer marketing and PR campaign, a digital or social strategy or an Ad campaign.

2. Make sure that your ads are memorable

Who can forget Virgin’s famous ‘We have Nothing To Hide’ campaign.

There is so much advertising out in the ethos, that unless you make yours memorable you risk getting lost in the clutter. Get a good team to help you create your ads and get creative. You don’t have to be rude or controversial, just make sure that you stand out from the crowd and tell your story.

3. A good press release is better than a full page ad

It’s better for people to be talking about you, rather than for you to be talking about yourself.

Having a great story to tell the media is a great way to get featured editorially. This means in an article that has been written by someone else, or even in a guest post written by you.

Being able to share a story, tips or advice allows you to showcases your expertise to your audience, which is far more powerful and respected than a paid placement.

4. You can rarely be too generous when dealing with complaints

If you are in a customer service business and you get a complaint, say sorry and be generous. Give them a free session, a complimentary item, a discount voucher. Do what you can to make them happy again as you can turn around a bad situation when you are generous.

5. Recruitment 

When it comes to recruitment, Virgin staff are enthusiastic and tend to have an attitude of going above and beyond for their customers.

There are a few key things to remember when it comes to recruiting this style of person.

  • Hire right as education only advances the right people
  • Keep your business fun and fresh to keep your staff engaged
  • Remember that people come and go, so always make sure that you are keeping your eye out for the next wave of the right talent

Jim Collins

Jim Collins is a business consultant and the author of best selling book ‘From Good to Great’.

From Good to Great was based on a five- year research project comparing companies that made the leap to those that did not.

The book sold 10 million copies world-wide and shows that greatness is not primarily a function of circumstance but largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.

Top tips

The top tips that I have learnt from him are:

  • Top leaders are more interested in the success of the company than for personal wealth or glory
  • The majority of the best CEO’s came from within the company. They are modest and deflect questions about personal contributions and edify the team
  • You need a clear vision and must be ferocious in its implementation.

Recruitment 

  • Focus on core values and character traits over education
  • Staff either stay on the bus for the ride or get off quick
  • Before you deem someone unsuitable for the bus, first check to see if they are simply just in the wrong seat

Incentives

The purpose of an incentive scheme is not to get the right behaviour from the wrong people, but instead to get the right people on the bus and keep them there

The right people will do the right things and deliver the best results that they are capable of regardless of the incentive scheme. There moral code requires building excellence for its own sake, not for the incentive.

Get the right people on the bus

The ultimate throttle on growth for any great company is not markets or technology, competition or products, it’s the ability to get and keep the best people

“The right people don’t need to be tightly managed or fired up’, says Collins.  ‘They will be self motivated by inner drive to produce the best results and be part of creating something great.”

Great vision without great people is irrelevant so with that in mind, hire outstanding people wherever and whenever you find them, even if you don’t have a specific job for them.

“I don’t know where we should take the company, but I do know that if I start with right people, ask them the right questions and engage them in vigorous debate, we will find a way to make this company great.”

No one can predict the change ahead, but the best team will handle change the best.

Cut out the dead wood 

Like a professional sports team, only the best should make the annual cut, regardless of position or tenure. If a better manager arrives tomorrow, put him/her in charge.

Rule 1. When in doubt don’t hire. Keep looking

Rule 2. When you know you need to make a people change, act fast.

Rule 3. Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problem

Furthermore, remove the cancers. If someone is causing an unpleasant environment for the rest of the team, dismiss them before it gets any worse.

Concluding remarks

Essentially in this article we have pin pointed two very different business models and ways of operation.

The first one being having a genius at the helm and a thousand helpers, however you risk it all falling apart without the genius.

The second model is to have a team of highly capable leaders with each given freedom to run their project and use their team.

If this is the model that you are going for, allow them to take ownership and use their real skills. It makes for interesting debates and innovative ideas rather than having more people just blindly following the leader.


About the author

Steve_grantSteve Grant, founder of Gym Hub, is a passionate entrepreneur with 18 years of fitness industry experience including 4 years as a Health and Wellness Lecturer at ACPE and 8 years as the owner of one of Sydney’s most profitable fitness studios.