Sir Richard Branson’s Advice to Entrepreneurs: Screw It, Just Do It

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Last month I had an incredible opportunity to meet and speak with Sir Richard Branson before my keynote at VTEX Day 2017, the top e-commerce conference in Brazil. I asked him what advice he had for entrepreneurs and after thinking about it for a few seconds he fired back, “Screw it, just do it.” Below is his full response to my question:

“If you have an idea that can improve other people’s lives,” says Sir Richard Branson, “then don’t just talk about it, put it into practice. It is the entrepreneurs who change the world, change countries, and employ all the new people.”

“Well Done Is Better Than Well Said”

This echoes one of my favorite quotes from Ben Franklin: “Well done is better than well said.” So many entrepreneurs mistakenly believe that their ideas and vision is all that it takes to be successful. But successful entrepreneurs know that there is one attribute that is more important than all the others: Grit.

In Angela Lee Duckworth’s famous TED Talk, “The key to success? Grit,” she states “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future… for years.”

And so Sir Richard Branson’s advice, as usual, is dead on. “Screw it, just do it” is about jumping in and getting it done. It’s about taking bold action when everyone else is afraid to venture into uncharted waters. Rather than waiting for someone else to pave the path for you, Sir Richard Branson encourages you to be the brave soul who paves his or her own path.

Take Massive Action

When she was 95 years old my late grandmother, Elizabeth Bilisoly Carmody, gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me. She said, “In life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did.” The context of our conversation was about how much she’d done and seen over her lifetime and never regretting any of the wild and crazy things she did. She lived life on her terms and I loved that about her – it made me want to be the best version of myself.

And yet, how many times do we sit on great ideas rather than taking massive action? The bolder the idea, the more risk is involved and we begin to second guess ourselves wondering if we have what it takes to pull off our great ideas rather than Daring Greatly as Berne Brown encourages us to do.

Pulling the Tiger’s Tail

Sir Richard Branson went on to share some amazing examples of what he meant by “Screw it, just do it.” My personal favorite of his examples occurred when British Airways sponsored The London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames in London. There was a mechanical problem, and so the engineers were struggling to raise the Ferris wheel from the ground to set it upright.

Without missing a beat, Sir Richard Branson marshaled his team into action and within an hour had one of his giant blimps circling the area with the words, “BA Can’t Get It Up!

Instead of all the positive press British Airways expected from the launch program, Virgin had stolen the show and delivered one of the best stunts in their history.

“We didn’t have the budgets to outspend our competitors,” said Sir Richard Branson, “so we had be clever and find ways to pull the tiger’s tail. This forced our much larger competitors to respond.” Not to mention help build the Virgin brand.

“Screw It, Just Do It”

You hear Sir Richard Branson’s advice and you know it to be true. The real question is how will you take massive action today? I encourage you to cut through the red tape and focus on how you can do something amazing today for your employees and your best customers. If you’re not sure where to start, how about 5 Ways to Convert Employees into Intrapreneurs. Perhaps encouraging your team to take massive action will help you build a culture of doers rather than the smartest most talented team locked up in the conference room.