Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur by Richard Branson
This is the second time I have listened to Sir Richard Branson’s book, but the first time I have reviewed it. Richard Branson is a fascinating entrepreneur. Struggling in school, he started a newspaper for students. It quickly grew in popularity to the point he received an offer to sell it. He immediately turned that money into the music business, reselling vinyl albums by mail cheaper than the corner shops. The next logical step was to create a recording studio and begin promoting bands. From there, things continued to grow and grow. The result of his willingness to strike out into areas he knew nothing about became known as the Virgin group of brands.
Business Stripped Bare is a look at Branson’s business philosophy and brand genius. He shares the story of how he built the brand and why he feels it is successful. He is brash, challenging, energetic and doesn’t subscribe to stuffiness on any scale. He believes in keeping businesses as small as possible (100 employees where possible), empowering employees to make decisions and energizing them around the brand.
The Virgin Group is one of the largest privately held companies in the world and this inside look at how they approach business is fascinating to me. Branson’s easy-going, chatty-style of writing is engaging. He provides story after story demonstrating his core beliefs on building a business. More than most business books, I found the advice useful and entertaining. While not a step-by-step manual, he covers the more intangible aspects of success, such as keeping employees engaged, dreaming big, where to never compromise, how to recognize and capitalize on opportunity and how to learn from mistakes.
There are few global business leaders I would like to meet. Branson is one whom I would. Judging from his writing style, I think I would l even be comfortable talking with him. Perhaps this book is ghost written, but the style matches what I have read about him in the news. He seems like a normal guy who made it big. He isn’t afraid to let it all hang out on the line in promotion of the company, even if it means bungee jumping from a helicopter or showing up naked to a product release. He does things on his terms and no one else’s. He believes in his people and is relentless in the pursuit of of perfection for the customer service and safety.
One thing I took away from his book is the importance of constant observation. He carries a notebook with him everywhere he goes and writes down every observation. Everything from worn carpet on a plane, salt shakers on trains to ideas for improving cell phone offerings go into the book for review and implementation. He prides on Virgin’s ability to rapidly adapt and execute change quickly to meet customer needs and expectations. I believe they are richly rewarded for this attention to detail. There is a lot to be learned from his approach.
Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur is a book every entrepreneur should read and reread. I believe his advice to be sound and immediately adaptable to any size business. I am attempting to implement as much as possible within my own company, even though it is far from entrepreneurial. Of course, I also try to apply it to the virgin brand of my own. If I have even a half a grain as much success as he has, I’ll be satisfied.