Richard Branson: The Virgin Group Billionaire Entrepreneur
There are very few British entrepreneurs who are better known than Richard Branson. He is a world-renowned figure as a result of his sheer determination to use one brand to establish a presence in numerous industries and consumer driven sectors since the 1970s, which is extremely impressive given that he was once almost bankrupt. The entrepreneur is a prime example of what can be done if you put your mind to it and also that you can achieve entrepreneurial success in a number of guises rather than having to stick to one or interrelated industries. As a result, a lot can be learned from his path to success.
Early Entrepreneurial Offerings
Richard Charles Nicholas Branson was born in Blackheath, South London on July 18, 1950 to a landed and titled family. It is fair to say that his upbringing was rather privileged as a result of that, which is mirrored in his education. The entrepreneur was a private school boy, attending both Bishopsgate School and Stowe School during his childhood. He could not have had a better education because it was the best that money could buy but Branson was unfortunately dyslexic and so struggled academically. However, his attitude seemed to suggest than he did not need an education to be successful in business.
The entrepreneur already had two businesses under his belt by the age of 15. He grew and sold Christmas trees and bred budgerigars. Despite the fact that both ventures failed, they had taught him all he needed to know about business in order to leave school at 16 and head to London to explore the world of business there. It was that year that Branson launched Student magazine, which was successful and made him the money he needed to embark upon his own entrepreneurial brand.
The Virgin Years
Richard Branson’s first business under the Virgin brand was in the music industry. He travelled to France to purchase cheap records and then sold them via mail order and also out of the trunk of his car. He began to make serious money because such commodities were expensive then and he sold them for far less than stores but at a profit to himself. Although he did not know it then, the entrepreneur was to sow the seeds of discounting in the music industry that would take hold by the end of the 1970s. The brand was in place already so he went on to open a store on Oxford Street in Central London from where he launched the Virgin record label as well, despite the fact that his recording studio was at his home. His French exporting did catch up with him though and he was fined a sum that nearly crippled him. Were it not for financial help from his mother it would have done.
Despite this setback, the entrepreneur’s Virgin brand become extremely visible and eventually bought various other ventures in the 1980s, including Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Trains, Virgin Finance and Virgin Galactic. Branson is also famous for owning his own island in the British Virgin Islands ironically. He has also invested in real estate in Barbuda and Antigua. Today he is worth $7.9 billion and is 236th on the Forbes Rich List as of March 2008.
Richard Branson is not only an exceptional entrepreneur but also a man who will never back away from a challenge. His world record attempts have been well documented. He has flown across the Atlantic in a hot air balloon and crossed the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle, among other things. However, all of this adds up to one conclusion – Richard Branson proves time and time again that anything is possible if you have the drive, ambition and foresight to do it. Education does not matter if you have a head for business, or at least this is message in the entrepreneur’s case.