Lessons from Branson and Blakely - the founders of Virgin And Spanx

Richard Branson interviews Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx.

Blakely worked at Walt DisneyWorld in Florida and then sold fax machines door-to-door before she launched her brand Spanx . Through those experiences she learnt a great deal about running a business. 

Richard and Sarah share four lessons (nuggets) that can be  learnt by working for someone else before launching a business:

1. Learning how to treat people.

Working for another company gives you the opportunity to observe how managers and employers treat their staff. 

Whether this is a positive or a negative experience for you, it is a chance to learn.

If you see behaviors that you like — flexible work arrangements for staff, for instance, or rewarding people when they achieve goals — then you can replicate this in your own business when you launch. 

Of course, you can also use this time to pinpoint behaviors to avoid — like working too many hours, or treating staff unfairly.

2. Learning how to delegate.

My skills are not suited to accounting, says Richard .  So when he first started Virgin, he hired an accountant, Jack Clayden, to do the  accounts and guide him through the business maze. . "We wouldn’t have gotten our business off the ground without him — he often knew better than us how we could make our vision a reality." Says Richard

"Working with Jack, I learned that if I wanted to make my business a success, then I would have to delegate."

By working for others, you’ll likely learn how to form a team you can trust and empower them to get things done.

3. Learning how to deal with failure.

 Failure is inevitable for every entrepreneur, but working for someone else before you launch a company can help you learn how to deal with it. 

Whether you’re observing someone else’s failure and learning from his mistakes or experiencing failure yourself, the process can teach you a lot. (Without it affecting your capital)

4. Learning how to manage work-life balance.

Work-life balance is something that everyone will struggle with at some point in their careers. Some entrepreneurs find themselves working 100-hour weeks and eventually become so stressed that they burn out.

If you learn how to manage your work-life balance when you’re an employee, it’ll make your life easier when you’re running your own business. 

Richard gets up early to play tennis or go kitesurfing and spend some time with his family before he starts work each day. That routine reminds me why He does what he does , and helps him get the balance right.

 (Treating people, art of delegation , coping with failure , work-life balance) 

Below are some of the comments that came from the Richard's linked in  post https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6301456997929750528

It's a testing ground , you will gain experience and knowledge and get paid for it. Having a job first is gold for anybody working in the gig economy .

Being an employee before starting our own business is actually the learning curve before the actual earning curve. It not only gives us necessary knowledge about the business, but also helps us in taking responsibilities for our actions. Hence being an employee first,entrepreneur later is a blessing in disguise.

Being an employee is a must as you will see and experience good and bad of running a company from all aspects and all departments. You will also see and experience the TEAM and it's costing.

You will gain insights on human relationships:  how to create successful ones that benefit all parties and drive the business to have greater positive effect.

you will gain insights that assist in being a better manager/owner than you otherwise would have been. Lifelines are seldom straight thus a few extra knots keep you from slipping when its rough...

Be selective about the industry you start with...and be deliberate about learning the ropes..

Its always good for you to acquire wealth of experience. A good follower become a good leader

Our business was open for 9 years, and when the business closed, I have been an employee ever since.  When you sign the checks on the front, it gives you a greater perspective on how to be a better employee

"I had years of experience as an employee before I started my own business and they were invaluable.  My last paid job was effectively a two -year training programme during which I gained all the contacts and specific industry knowledge essential to setting up my business.  It enabled me to hit the ground running. "

Having business experience can give you a competitive edge in (applying for jobs) in the public sector in which real world skills are often lacking. Having good academic AND business credentials can be a winning combination in higher education

Dianne would add ... be the best employee you can be. It will teach you how to be the best manager you can be ... the best entrepreneur ... the best friend ... the best colleague ... the best neighbor. Align your thoughts, words and actions and your brand will be as authentic as you are.

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants....."Isaac Newton"