If there is one businessman who turns conventional business and marketing on its head, it’s Richard Branson. His drive, passion and belief in his people has taken him from strength to strength.

Studying the qualities that are present in successful leaders is the fastest way to nurture your own potential.

  1. Does the world’s greatest mentor have a mentor of his own? In the past I’ve had some wonderful mentors. Freddy Laker, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and the late Mo Mowlam have all given me great guidance and inspiration. I also listen to all my employees. I believe in them and let them have a go.
  2. You have had your fair share of challenges, how do you move forward after a setback? It’s important to face these challenges head on. Most importantly don’t beat yourself up if you fail. Just pick yourself up, learn as much as you can from the experience and get on with the next challenge.
  3. What advice can you give a young entrepreneur starting with no money? First and foremost, a successful business must have sound knowledge of its market, and work on how its product or service will be different, stand out and improve people’s lives. If you can ensure it responds to a real need out there in the marketplace, your business can punch well above its weight.
  4. Unlike when you started, do you think the internet has levelled the playing field for young entrepreneurs? Yes, it has certainly made a difference in terms of finding your opportunities and getting your message out there. But ultimately you still need to be focused on refining that core idea that drives your business. After all, no business will succeed on internet exposure alone.
  5. How do you decide which ideas to focus on? There’s no winning formula to help decide which idea will work and which won’t. I definitely go on gut instinct but it has to have the backup of research and information. Never be afraid of taking risks and leaping into the unknown.
  6. You are known as being a great leader, what advice can you give to someone to develop that trait? Studying the qualities that are present in successful leaders is the fastest way to nurture your own potential. Determining the strengths you admire in others, as well as identifying areas for personal development, can help you become a successful leader.
  7. Finding the right people can be difficult, how do you find people who can be leaders in your business? Sometimes they are already there. When employees tell you about their ideas for the business, don’t just ask questions, take notes and follow up. If you can, ask those people to lead their projects and take responsibility for them. This adds to their confidence and allows you to take a further step back.
  8. If you were to start from scratch and you could only choose one, which project or business would you choose? It’s difficult to pick just one, as we have had so many successes to be proud of over the years. For me the triumphs are when Virgin has entered a sector and turned it on its head, like Virgin Atlantic in 1984 and Virgin Trains in 1997, when the doubters and critics are proved wrong.
  9. What would be your five top tips to success? Search out a good mentor, understand mistakes are inevitable, set goals and pursue them fearlessly, don’t listen to negatives – prove your doubters wrong, surround yourself with a reliable, enthusiastic and energetic team – then trust them.
  10. So, what’s next on your agenda? I am yet to decide what my next big challenge will be. Watch this space.