Seeing the “Virgin” logo and brand, one cannot help but to picture the company’s lion-haired founder, Sir Richard Branson. The knighted entrepreneur is more rockstar than businessman to the general public, and there is no question that Virgin Group benefits from his fame. Yet, hiding behind the sometimes outlandish, always entertaining, public image is a shrewd moneymaker, dominating capitalism with his own unique style. Here is our modest attempt at a step by step approach to model your own business after Sir Richard’s glorious example.

Do what you love and work is fun

Obviously, it takes hard work to amass a wealth such as Branson’s (approximately $3 billion USD), and a brand as well known as Virgin. To make this work more tolerable, Branson suggests making your business your passion. In an interview with CNNMoney, Sir Richard says, “if you can indulge in your passion, life will be far more interesting than if you are just working.” Observing Branson, it would be difficult to argue that he does not love his life, even though his schedule is so packed and demanding, interviewers wonder when he eats. Without an honest appreciation of what you do, dealing with long hours and mountains of stress would be unbearable for most.

Educate yourself and avoid failure

Because you love fitness (for example), you don’t mind reading and learning literally everything about it, in order to become the nation’s top exercise guru; bar owners enjoy expanding their knowledge of beverages and why dieters can’t resist a good happy hour; and car salesmen live to improve their sales pitches or knowledge of cars. Branson believes such knowledge is key, suggesting you should try “to know more about {your business} than anyone else.” You see, entrepreneurs might not be the dashing risk takers we want to admire. In a recent New Yorker article, Malcom Gladwell (author of Tipping Point and Blink) supports Branson’s advice. Gladwell points out that the advantage our country’s most recent and successful entrepreneurs held was not their tolerance for risk, but rather their tireless dedication to studying key business moves. Branson didn’t get uber-wealthy by blindly throwing around cash. He became an expert on your business,and then he bought your business, and your customers have never looked back.

Attack opportunity and think big

Sir Richard’s first business was a magazine called Student, which he started at age 16. At the time, he was not a publishing magnate, just a kid who realized a dream and an opportunity. He wanted to be an editor of a magazine, so he started his own. At the time, magazines were not created with students in mind. Branson’s was and advertisers were all too eager to pay him to reach this untapped population. He dropped out of school to run the publication. This same vision led to Sir Richard starting Virgin Atlantic Airways. He was tired of continuously crappy experiences while flying, and figured he could do better, so he started his own f*!%ing airline! Virgin actually makes flying something to look forward to, like when your parents used to dress up to get on the plane. Also, he believes people want to go to space (duh) so he birthed Virgin Galactic.

Live large and own a sweet island

Branson says, “I used himself to put Virgin on the map.” In fact, many people probably learn about Sir Richard Branson before they know what Virgin Group is, does or sells. Whether attempting to fly around the world in a hot air balloon, or kiteboarding with a naked model, Branson is not afraid to let it all hang out (pun intended). Obviously, Virgin’s entertainment and retail businesses are a natural fit for this type of publicity, but did you realize Virgin Group also includes railways, health clubs, banks and limousines? It seems being a business superhero benefits all of Branson’s companies. And why shouldn’t we be constantly promoting a business we are proud of? Topping off his ridiculous life style is Necker Island, a little piece of the Caribbean owned by Branson, that is so sweet this place was featured on MTV cribs, and often appears in travel mags. Heads of State too busy to listen to your humanitarian business proposal? Call a meeting in the Caribbean, they’ll show. The key is when the media shoots Sir Richard, they are shooting Virgin as well. His life is a marketing plan. Think he writes off his private island ownership as a business expense?

Pay attention to the customer and make your millions

No matter how good your new (or old) idea is, if you neglect serving those that pay the bills, you will not make it very far. This is, in fact, why Branson is confident Virgin Atlantic will do well, even through this down economy. His company offers the customer a terrific experience at an even better price. This mindset extends through all his companies and even to his charities. As a member of the mega-rich, Sir Richard feels obliged to give back, which he does through various non-profits and funds designed to save the earth and its inhabitants. Despite the all the marketing, the buying and selling of companies, one constant remains – whatever business Branson is in, he wants to do right by the customer, and customers are buying that.

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