Richard Branson: Screw It, Let's Do It
First to cross the Atlantic by a hot-air balloon, knighted for his services to entrepreneurship, and with space-travel on his agenda. Richard Branson has accomplished a lot in his lifetime. He has established everything from businesses and ventures to charities and expeditions. Often guided by the ideology of “Screw it, let’s do it”; he has served and profoundly impacted the world.
Passionate & Perseverant
Branson struggled with dyslexia all his life, and with the traditional education system not working out for him, he dropped out at the age of 16 to give something else a go. With what ultimately lead to the creation of his empire of 400 companies and an appetite to provide an alternative to the stale media, he started a youth-cultural magazine called “Student”. Stemming from his marketing genius, after selling $8000 worth of advertising; he distributed the initial 50,000 copies entirely for free.
To help fund his magazine efforts, Branson came up with an ingenious idea of setting up a “Mail-Order Record Company”. He would run this from a rented empty shop above a shoe store. While running the business, him and other students believed that they were complete novices at running such a business; thus the name “Virgin” was born.
Soon enough, this mail-order record company brought in enough money to expand his business venture. Through his creative genius, Branson then set up a record store on Oxford Street in London.
His methods weren't always perfect, at one point being strapped for cash and to save costs, Branson came up with an elaborate scheme to evade taxes. But it did not last long as he was caught and even sent to jail. He did learn his lesson though, as he came up with an agreement to pay forgone taxes over a period of 3 years. This early lesson changed his behaviour; he then turned to balance sheets and a proper company structure to operate his future ventures.
Thoughtful & Innovative
Following the success of the record store, he was able to gather enough funds to build a recording studio in 1972 in Oxfordshire, England. In 1973, with the help of Branson's team, Mike Oldfield recorded his single with it landing on the UK Top Charts. He subsequently signed "The Sex Pistols", "The Rolling Stones" and more; it would be fair to say that Virgin Records was a prospering, even being in the top 6 record companies in the world.
Emerging from Branson’s hard work and passion for change, he proceeded to form even more businesses and expanded his entrepreneurial efforts once again, this time establishing a travel company “Voyager Group”. Just 17 years after launching his magazine, he held 50 companies with sales over 17 Million dollars. He had created a very distinctive identity for the Virgin brand.
In 1984, turning into one of his toughest challenges yet, he grew the Voyager Group into "Virgin Atlantic" as a cancelled flight from Puerto Rico to British Virgin Islands served as the inspiration. The airline became famous due to its unique service and superior amenities. His ventures are deeply tied into his extravagant personality and strong beliefs, and was very struck by this.
Creative & Visionary
Moving forward to current times, Virgin Group has now launched more than 400 companies into existence in over 30 countries. This ranges from a train company (Virgin Trains), luxury game preserve (Virgin Limited Edition), mobile phone company (Virgin Mobile) to an ocean exploration company (Virgin Oceanic) and space tourism company (Virgin Galactic).
The Entrepreneur sums up his business philosophy as “money is not the driving force behind his varied business endeavours. Instead, his principal motive for expanding into new ventures is that he enjoys the challenge of trying to do something better than other people.”
He has no centralised headquarters, and embraces his unusual business and management practices to create what is now a 5 Billion Dollar empire. Branson is very active on social media and is one of the LinkedIn’s most followed influencers. Be sure to check him out!