At first glance, Richard Branson is an enigma. Look a little deeper, though, and he's somewhat decipherable. At his core are traits that are good predictors of entrepreneurial success. We asked experts in the fields of psychology and entrepreneurship to share their thoughts on what makes entrepreneurs succeed. Through their answers and our interview with Branson, we shed some light on what makes him such a notable individual.
Risk Taker: Bold, brave risk taking is a central feature of human progress, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship," says Dr. Frank Farley, a psychologist at Temple University in Philadelphia. Much of Branson's success has come from taking big risks. "
Lifelong Learner:" This trait is key to Branson's ability to successfully compete in various industries. He started out aspiring to be a journalist, co-founding a magazine called Student in his teens. Says Branson, "Being a journalist and being an entrepreneur is not that dissimilar. You're learning all the time."
Swift Action and Experimentation: "Making quick decisions and experimenting are good predictors of success, says J. Robert Baum, a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland. Branson hasn't wasted a moment of his life, and he isn't afraid to experiment."
Thrill Seeker:"Farley says Branson fits the Type T Personality, which is characterized by "risk-taking, stimulation-seeking, and thrill-seeking; is motivated by novelty and change with a high tolerance for uncertainty; is self-confident and optimistic; believes he can control his fate and his destiny; is creative and innovative; shows independence of judgment and likes to make up his own mind; is a natural-born rule breaker; and thrives on challenges."
Self-Efficacy and Confidence:
"Entrepreneurs face big barriers to entering new markets with new products," says Baum. "You get knocked down all the time, so you have to be able to hang in there even when other people are telling you that you're wrong." Branson's own levels of self-efficacy and confidence were crucial in finding funding.
Venture and Industry Experience:
Baum says experience is a good predictor of your success. With businesses spanning multiple industries, Branson isn't always knowledgeable about each one, but he surrounds himself with people who are.