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Room in the Gloom for a Boom

Richard Branson is an incorrigible optimist; it's how he's managed to build one of the world's most successful empires. So with reports on the global economy ever bleaker, it is soothing to hear Sir Richard, true to form, finding the silver lining.
Branson addressed mainly entrepreneurs when he said in a recent interview that he believes the next generation of the world’s self-made billionaires will emerge from the recession, with various industries humbled and in need of a shake-up.

Pleasingly, Branson is not the sort of blind optimist who tells us in an annoying voice to ‘turn our frowns upside down’, or that with the lemons life gives us we should be making lemonade. Far from being ignorant to the devastation of the global meltdown, particularly in the banking sector, Branson said he saw the recession going on longer than is being predicted, but urged business leaders not to panic.

But instead of speaking for the man, here’s what he said in his own words, in a recent visit to Australia for the launch of yet another domestic airline.

“There are a lot of Richard Bransons that will come out of the next three or four years. Fortunes are made out of recessions. A lot of entrepreneurs get going in the economic depths because the barriers to entry are lower.


If you are best in your field, then don't cut back on quality because good companies always survive ... I got into business aged 15 and since then I've seen four recessions, so I'm quite used to weathering these storms. We are not going to be out of this one any time soon, so people are going to have to dig in and work longer hours to pull us out.

We cannot allow perfectly decent companies to go to the wall just because they cannot get liquidity. And if your bank is behaving badly, then shout about it because no business can afford to lose that lifeline.

Where companies indicate they may have to cut back and tighten their belts, we have given strict instructions to management to look at job-sharing, part-time work or shorter working weeks to prevent job losses. We want to look at everything first because there is nothing more demoralising than being out of work. That has to be an absolute last resort for any company.

You have to come up with imaginative ways of saving cash, like signing every cheque yourself. You would be surprised how much you can save even in large companies if the boss questions every purchase order that goes out."

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