Richard Branson’s advice on embracing entrepreneurship

Let me tell you a story on how I use/used Richard Branson’s advice on embracing entrepreneurship as a Financial Advisor.  I started my entrepreneurial journey as a ‘virgin’, and like most virgins, I didn’t know what I was doing. I use the word virgin because the entrepreneur who has inspired me the most throughout my career is Sir Richard Branson. His own brand, Virgin, was born because entrepreneurship was entirely new to Branson and his co-founder – an acknowledgment of their inexperience in business.

Although I’ve been blessed with the friendship and guidance of many entrepreneurs, Branson’s “Screw It, Let’s do It!” attitude has helped me through many challenges over the years as a Financial Advisor. His ability to create a global brand from his houseboat and his home on Necker Island has been motivation and inspiration to me.  It helped me see that anything is possible.

When I look back at the last 20 years, from my first experience on Virgin Trains to flying on Virgin Atlantic, and even working with the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg (South Africa), it’s clear that Richard Branson has been a positive influence in my entrepreneurial journey.  That’s why it was such an honor to ask the man himself a question on a LinkedIn Audio Event. More on that later…

Richard Branson's Advice

The live conversation between Branson and Dan Roth (LinkedIn’s Editor-in-Chief) focused on Branson’s updated autobiography, Finding My Virginity, and the upcoming HBO documentary series about his life.  Richard Branson’s advice on embracing entrepreneurship as a Financial Advisor helped me tackle obstacles, think outside of the box, and ultimately thrive. Today, I want to share my takeaways and some key lessons for Financial Advisors looking to grow their business.

Adapt today to be successful tomorrow

Being a Virgin entrepreneur isn’t easy.  Whether you’re learning to deal with rejection to not being able to perform when it counts, the entrepreneurship journey is a rollercoaster (one that I got on years ago and refuse to get off). Change is the one thing you’ve got to get used to on that rollercoaster. It’s inevitable. You can either embrace it or live in fear of it…

Companies aren’t future-proof,” says Branson, and nothing lasts forever. An entrepreneur should be prepared to adapt and avoid being nostalgic about the company itself. “Sometimes you have to take your company in a new direction because circumstances and opportunities have changed.

The world of financial advice has definitely changed. I had to adapt when I moved my practice online.  I discovered a world of possibilities: new client opportunities and better work-life balance. Nothing is set in stone.  Just because something hasn’t been done a certain way before doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. It’s why I created Conneqtor.  To help other Financial Advisors embrace change and learn how to thrive in a digital world.

Preparation and hard work determine your ‘luck’

Here’s the number one tip that I hope will help other Financial Advisors realize their dreams: in the words of Richard Branson, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” As Branson acknowledged in his book, The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership, success comes from hard work, not ‘luck’. 

I was asked recently what makes my company, Couplr, and its solution different. I told them it’s the culmination of my 17 years of preparation. Like most entrepreneurs, I’ve experienced periods of doubt and feeling like nothing is happening – I call these periods preparation. They can be mundane and slow, but are extremely important. Opportunity will come knocking and when it does, how prepared you are will determine your ‘luck’.

We all have control over our own luck.  When we work hard, the preparation pays off.  It may look like luck to others, but is actually thanks to the investment of time, energy, and patience.  Just like the years of work we do as advisors with our clients.  All of the work you’ve done this year to build your advisory practice is setting yourself up for future success. It took time for me to transition my brick-and-mortar business to a virtual practice, but it was a game changer for me, my family, and my clients.

Turn challenges into opportunities

I’m often asked about the best place to begin when you want to start your own business. From dull and expensive airlines to sluggish banks, every Virgin business has been built out of a desire to do things differently. We’ve looked beyond the standard ways of thinking and pushed the boundaries of expectations. Challenges can lead to great opportunities!” – Richard Branson

Being a creator and entrepreneur on LinkedIn has opened so many doors for me, but it wasn’t always this way. I used to only watch or ‘lurk’ on LinkedIn. I didn’t provide any value to others; I just consumed and wondered why LinkedIn ‘didn’t work’ for me. It was a challenge that I had to reframe into an opportunity… LinkedIn wasn’t working for me because I was taking instead of giving. 

So, I changed my approach. I recognized that the traditional advisor model didn’t meet the modern needs of advisors and clients.  I needed to change my tactics to start opening new doors. Because of this mindset shift, so many opportunities, both personally and professionally, have been presented to me.  Staying on the path of ‘the way things have always been done’ would almost certainly not led to this outcome.

It was an out-of-body experience to hear my name called as I was offered the opportunity to ask Richard Branson a question: “You appear to be the epitome of Work-Life Balance – was it always this way, especially after starting a family, or something you found while on your path and Finding Your Virginity?” 

This event is burned into my memory, I still can’t believe it happened!  I may never have had the pleasure of speaking with him if I didn’t change my mindset.  I had to believe and view the challenge of marketing myself online and connecting with people virtually as the opportunity it was.  Keep an ear out for special annual gathering (maybe even on a certain island) we are calling the ReBL Entrepreneur.

A final piece of Richard Branson’s advice on embracing entrepreneurship as a Financial Advisor

Richard Branson said during the live event, especially as a young entrepreneur, he had to get creative and figure out ways to grow his businesses without money. The great news is that there are so many ways to be creative when it comes to building your business as a financial advisor. Don’t feel intimidated, or that your dream is out of reach. Start small. Get scrappy. Look for ways to create value.

Whether you’ve been a financial advisor for 6 months, 40 years, or somewhere in between, it’s possible to take your business to the next level. In my own business, I was able to reduce my overhead expenses by ~61%.  I also increased my income by 20% a year while working fewer hours and realizing an amazing work-life balance.

The Conneqtor Coaching Course was designed as an on-demand solution for Financial Advisors looking to build and run a modern advisory practice in the 21st century. If you’d like to know more about what you can do to bring your firm into the 21st century, download my free eBook, and don’t forget to subscribe to my Rethink. Financial Advice Podcast with great friend Adam Holt.


Derek Notman

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