Freelance Writing Business Tips from Richard Branson

Richard Branson is the founder of Virgin Group, a highly successful company with customers around the globe in multiple lines of business.  He’s also a serial entrepreneur — he just pursues his entrepreneurial spirit through his larger company (and on the occasional extreme sporting trip).

Today, Richard Branson published a post on his blog called How to Succeed at Failure.  That post leads readers to a question and answer series that he participates in, which is published on the American Express Open Forum.  In this particular question and answer post, Branson responded to questions about failure, and his answers can be applied to any business, including freelance writing.

As a freelance writer who works for himself (or herself), you’re an entrepreneur and business owner.  You need to learn how to market yourself as a business, research and find opportunities, and fill gaps that are not currently being met by a competitor.  Richard Branson’s take on failure is motivational and helps put business decisions that don’t meet objectives into perspective.

Branson was asked by another entrepreneur how he decides when to call it quits and switch to another initiative or venture if he’s not getting the results he wants and needs.  Branson replied by first explaining that to build a business you need to be confident and ready to stick it out through the hard times, but you also need to admit when something isn’t working.  He explains:

“The impending failure of a business is something that you will instinctively recognize deep down, but human nature may prevent you from acknowledging it.  … There will be times when you must accept that despite your best efforts, an idea or business cannot be saved. … Overall, it seems to me that if you have been struggling to pay the bills and salaries on a regular basis; if you cannot get traction with customers; if you can’t raise awareness of your product or brand, then it is time to quit.”

When asked how he regroups after a failure, Branson explained:

“Over the years, my team and I have not let mistakes, failures or mishaps get us down. Instead, even when a venture has failed, we try to look for opportunities, to see whether we can capitalize on another gap in the market.”

Clearly, Branson is an advocate of taking calculated risks to build a business and committing to his business decisions, but he does know that not all of his decisions will turn out to be good ones.  He’s willing to accept the consequences, learn from those mistakes, and do what it takes to keep growing his business.  He explained:

“I have lost count of the number of times rivals, reporters, bankers and even my own finance directors have told me that our time was up — but every time, I kept going and tried another angle, thinking that our situation was not as dire as it appeared. We have sold houses, hotels and even other businesses to raise cash. Sometimes we expanded our way out of trouble by ordering new planes, signing new bands or even buying new nightclubs.”

You can learn from Richard Branson and other successful entrepreneurs as you work to grow your own freelance writing business.  Remember, you’re not just a writer.  You’re also a small business owner!

You can follow the link to read the complete answers from Richard Branson and get more insight into the mind of a successful entrepreneur.

Image: Flickr


2 responses
  1. bobbi carr Avatar
    bobbi carr

    Very interesting article. I especially enjoyed Branson’s quoting his mother:
    My mother drummed into me from an early age that I should not spend much time regretting the past. I try to bring that discipline to my business career. Over the years, my team and I have not let mistakes, failures or mishaps get us down. Instead, even when a venture has failed, we try to look for opportunities, to see whether we can capitalize on another gap in the market.

  2. Zahra Brown Avatar

    Yes, admitting defeat can be hard, but then accepting it and moving on means you can quickly work toward success.

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