By k | August 29, 2007 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

When compared to a James Bond villian,
rebel billionaire and serial entrepreneur
Sir Richard Branson told Stephen Colbert
that he likes to think of himself as
Dr. Yes, not Dr. No. 

Having read numerous articles on the man,
this isn’t a flippant comment. 
It is his personal philosophy. 

When approached about new ventures,
his first response is why not?

What is your first response?

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 29th, 2007 at 6:00 am and is filed under New Business Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

1 Comment

  1. August 31, 2007 @ 12:26 am

    While you may be correct in that Sir Richard may PERSONALLY be an easy sale of sorts (if you can actually be so lucky as to get close enough to pitch to him)… one should not be fooled into thinking that getting his consideration of a proposal is an easy matter. Believe me — I know… I tried for nearly a year to get Virgin’s consideration of a proposal that (based on a perception of Sir Richard and Virgin, obviously similar to your own) should have been right up their alley.

    The proposal sat at Virgin USA for 3 months before I received a form letter turndown, with not even a single phone call to ask any questions whatsoever about the proposal. -

    I then spent a month sending faxes to my reviewer, citing reasons why I believed my proposal was indeed “in-line with Virgin’s overall strategic goals” — along with large numbers of quotes from Sir Richard himself, that I felt proved it. The whole reason of which was to try to get my “sole reviewer” to give me just 5-minutes on the phone to discuss the proposal. — But she would never take my calls, or return my calls as requested… and Virgin has no Appeals Process in place for rejected proposals.

    When I finally asked the receptionist what I should do, because I ultimately couldn’t accept a turn-down on such a highly important project at their level — she suggested I resubmit my proposal to their London Offices. — So, I spent a month revising the proposal and did as she suggested.

    After the proposal sat at Virgin Management for nearly 3 months with no word… I tried to make some connections through Virgin Unite (Virgin’s social foundation) because of the humanitarian aspects of my proposal that were also in line with VU’s work. But because I wasn’t a non-profit, they simply referred me back to Virgin USA.

    4 months after sending my proposal to London… I received the exact same form letter turndown from them… as I had received from Virgin USA months before. — Again with no phone calls to ask even a single question about the proposal. — And again my London reviewer (even after I’d spent nearly 8 months just trying to get someone at Virgin to talk seriously with me about the proposal, to let me know that they’d at least READ IT and given in serious consideration — as well as something other than a form letter response as to why they’d rejected it)… was unwilling to even give me the common courtesy of just 5-minutes on the phone.

    So, I just said SCREW IT! I’ll find my help elsewhere.

    Now, one thing you should understand about Virgin’s Corporate Development Teams (who represent the division of Virgin responsible for reviewing new proposals) is that 1.) they are small units of no more than a dozen or so people… 2.) they have to split their time between proposal review and responsibilities to working on existing Virgin businesses… and 3.) they receive as many as 300 new proposals per week at each office. This makes them highly understaffed for the job at hand, when it comes to providing honest consideration of ALL of the proposals submitted to them.

    So, while yes, Client K — Sir Richard Branson definitely does pose a dashing vision of a jet-setting, care-free entrepreneur willing to give “anything a try” that anyone might bring to him… the actual process of trying to get through the daunting bureacracy of of his proposal review teams, tarnishes that image very quickly.

    I just wish Sir Richard actually valued his proposal review activities enough to maybe throw an extra $2 million per year (from the nearly $20,000 million ($20 billion)that Virgin takes in each year) into maybe quadrupling the size of his proposal review staff. — Maybe then he might be able to more readily live up to the image that he portrays of himself… and show some respect for the people that submit proposals to him — based on that image.

    Hey, I love the man… but his organization’s got problems. I just hope he sees it and gets his house in order, so he can continue to be the ray of hope for small-time entrepreneurs like us the world over.


    Posted by Mike

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