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The Problem With Sure Things


You want a guarantee that your business will succeed? I’m sorry, but I can’t give it to you. If there was a surefire way of making money, everyone would be doing it.

No matter how sure you are of your business plan, no matter how confident you are of success, there’s no guarantee that you’ll make it this time.

Back in 2006, I chanced across an amazing opportunity.

As you know, following 9/11, security tightened up at airports. Business travelers are usually in a hurry. They don’t like queuing in long lines at security, or being asked to take off their shoes. So they were choosing to charter private flights.

I crunched the numbers, and revenues in the sector were soaring at a rate I hadn’t seen in any business since the dot-com boom.

But nobody was co-ordinating the thousands of private operators. The only way you could charter a flight was by calling the local airport, or looking for an operator in the phone book.

What a huge opportunity! I set up a company to co-ordinate the booking of chartered flights. I was certain of success.
In the process of raising capital for the business, I met Richard Branson. He was so impressed with my business model that he bought a controlling stake in my company. We rebranded as Virgin Charter.

We launched in 2008. Then disaster struck. Oil prices spiked – which increased the cost of chartering a jet by 50%.

You know what happened next – Lehman Brothers collapsed.

I had planned to be running a wildly successful business. I believed I’d found a sure thing. Instead, I found myself fighting for survival.

The problem with sure things is that they’re never as sure as you’d like them be.

Business is risky. That’s why you should do everything you can to balance your risk. Be realistic in what’s possible for your business. Then, if things don’t go the plan, you won’t fall nearly as hard.


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