Social media is abuzz today with Sir Richard Branson’s decision to let Virgin Group’s salaried employees take as much time off as they want. There are undoubtedly thousands of ecommerce company executives right now planning to copy Branson’s new HR policy. After all, if it works for the British billionaire, surely the policy will benefit your business too. Right?
You are not Richard Branson
This may be a good deal for Branson and/or his employees. That doesn’t mean it will work for your company.
Richard Branson’s business is not your business…and you are not him. What might work for him doesn’t necessarily work for you and your employees.
You are not Warren Buffett
You see the same type of mistaken assumption when it comes to other billionaires like Warren Buffett. There are hordes of investors trying to copy Buffett’s strategies and tactics. Yet they are not Buffett and they lack his resources.
For example, few investors can decide to dominate a particular niche by simply acquiring all the stock in the number one company within that niche. Similarly, most can’t pick up a phone get whatever help they need from Wall Street or Washington, D.C. to make a deal happen.
You are not Steve Jobs
Although there are lessons to be learned from Apple’s success, you are not Steve Jobs. Just because Jobs (and now Tim Cook) can do something with Apple doesn’t mean such action can or should be taken by your company.
You are not Tim Ferriss
The closest thing to today’s lovefest with Richard Branson’s new employee leave policy is the cult that developed around entrepreneur Tim Ferriss’ “4-Hour Workweek.” Like lemmings, many Internet business owners read the book and misinterpreted it.
A short workweek for someone with an existing online business that’s automated and supported by other human resources is very different than a new Internet venture where there’s only one or two people working 24/7 trying to building something.
If you read between the lines, Ferriss’ book really described a life were working 4 productive hours a day was far more beneficial for the average entrepreneur than screwing around 40 hours a week doing nonessential or low-value tasks.
Unfortunately, many Internet marketers decided to pretend their ecommerce companies were at the same stage as Ferriss’ business. Tasks were outsourced prematurely or to the wrong people. Customer support plummeted as emails were checked only once a day and phone calls were not returned. Productivity plummeted as a something-for-nothing mentality translated Ferriss’ book to mean four hours of goofing off would lead to success.
So what is the secret of Richard Branson’s success?
Who knows? Branson probably doesn’t.
Hindsight isn’t really 20/20. Humans have selective memories. If five eyewitnesses can give conflicting accounts a half hour after a traffic accident, what are the odds that Branson or anyone else can accurately identify all of the key factors to lead to early success in his business ventures?
Yes, success does leave clues. The late British billionaire Felix Dennis identified 88 of them in his books on getting rich.
Some of Richard Branson’s best business practices might help your business. The same can be said about countless others who have made their mark.
But you’re not any of them. Your resources and goals are different. Learn from others who are more successful than you but don’t assume everything they do will help you if you blindly copy it.