Richard Branson on When Inexperience Is an Advantage
5th December 2011 - 2332 days ago
Our Oxford Street store quickly became popular with Londoners, which meant we soon had the cash to open our second and third stores. We stuck to our original winning formula, making sure to open stores on busy streets, especially looking at spaces that needed smartening up, since we could get a few months rent-free. This usually gave us some time to establish a local following. Soon we had stores in almost every large town in Britain.
From music retailing we moved into the recording industry, but it was our move into the airline business that underlined for me the advantage of inexperience. When we leased our first 747 jumbo jet in 1984, I knew very little about the airline business, beyond the fact that I had flown a lot as a record executive and disliked it. The food was poor, the entertainment was bad, the seats were uncomfortable and the service was lackluster. Surely all this could be changed - it was just common sense.
Virgin Atlantic's early years were all about breaking conventions. I hated being stuck in one place for eight hours at a time, so we created a bar where Upper Class passengers could meet and talk during the flight. We brought massage therapists on board to relieve the tedium and ensured that all passengers had better seat-back entertainment. Continuing this tradition, Virgin America, our newest airline, has similarly revolutionized the industry in the United States.
So when you are dealing with prospective partners, suppliers or employees, turn their questions about your inexperience to your advantage. Explain that it frees you and your team to follow your vision for the industry. And if you make adjustments along the way - not just to correct for problems you've noticed, but for contributions from your employees as well -- you will forge a new path to success.
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