How do you work hand in hand with someone you do not see eye to eye? Maverick entrepreneur, UK’s 7th richest man, and founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, recently shared how he has been getting by; listen in, you grab a few business saving tips.
Branson, popular for his affinity with the public, recently answered a reader’s question on entrepreneur.com, which was reported on virgin.com, about how to make business partnerships work. Here are his three tips on how to keep business cooperation alive even when disagreements threaten to kill your relationship.
Don’t be afraid to debate
Branson, who ventured into entrepreneurship at the young age of 16, wrote in the blog that one of the standout lessons of his 50 years involvement in business is the importance of having a healthy debate about strategy and direction. “I always encourage my colleagues to challenge me and speak up if they disagree with any of our group’s plans,” he wrote, referring to his Virgin group which brought in a revenue of $23.5 billion in 2012. The husband and father of two said business affairs should also imitate some family skills. “The old saying that ‘a family that eats together, stays together’ also applies to disagreements in business – a team that challenges each other will be successful together.”
Branson also sided against popular notion, stating that senior management teams must not always be harmonious. “Of course, you cannot be at permanent loggerheads with your senior colleagues or fellow founders, but the occasional debate is good for everyone and will help to sharpen your team’s focus”.
Get rid of ‘yes’ men
If your subordinates are always nodding to whatever you say, and never disagreeing, fire them, Richard Branson instructs. The English entrepreneur with over 400 companies under his control wrote in the blog that disagreement and debate is healthy, and that organizations run by a chief executive who lords over a team of “yes” men is unlikely to succeed. “I have always surrounded myself with colleagues who think differently than I do and who bring different skills to our companies”.
To buttress his point, Branson went back to his experience with his first venture, Student Magazine. “As I have written in previous columns, my early businesses were founded with Nik Powell when we were teenagers. We complemented each other well – Nik was very organized and cautious, while I was more of a free spirit. We learned a lot about how to work together as we established Student magazine, our mail-order record business and then a retail business together – he was the perfect foil for me, since I constantly had ideas for new ventures.”