Virgin Group founder Richard Branson got a question from a mother in Texas about her 12-year-old boy, and the celebrity businessman gave her a surprisingly thorough answer.The kid kept failing at his little business ventures. He tried making wallets and mowing lawns, but he couldn’t get any customers. He’d get discouraged, but his mother wanted to help him keep him going.
Branson published the advice he gave in his new book “Like A Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You At Business School,” and posted the excerpt on his blog.
“First of all, your son shouldn’t be disheartened – with all his restless activity, he is off to a good start. Indeed, he has achieved the first step, which is just to turn up and try. And he is showing good instincts. One of my golden rules for the Virgin Group is that any business we decide to launch should enhance customers’ lives. His lawn-mowing service certainly passes the test. Tell him not to be discouraged. Any good entrepreneur must take risks when starting new ventures, and most enterprises do not work the first time around. Now he needs to take the second step, which is to learn from his mistakes and ensure he doesn’t repeat them next time.”
In 867 words, he told two stories about his initial “schoolboy attempts” to start businesses, and then broke down what the kid needed to do with his lawn mowing business in five points.
- Is the pricing right? — if nothing works, maybe even offer to mow for free and ask customers to pay whatever they’d like
- Is the equipment up to date? — perhaps invest in a better lawnmower
- Do some research to find your most likely customers — find those whose circumstance require them to get extra help
- Can you broaden the services you offer? — cleaning cars, pulling weeds or taking out the trash
- Offer to donate some of your proceeds to a local charity — may help convince people, since it’s helping the community
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