Richard Branson, Enigmatic and flamboyant but incredibly Successful Entrepreneur
“Flamboyance “should be the second name of this enigmatic entrepreneur born in the United Kingdom in 1950 and gone into business at the age of 16. The name “Richard Branson” and “Virgin” brand go hand in hand and although he started his business life as a flamboyant entrepreneur, he was already the subject of a television documentary at the age of 20. His insatiable appetite for business from a young age resulted in the forming of a mail order record company called “Virgin” which he later turned into a store in Oxford Street in London. By 1972, he had formed his own music label called “Virgin Records”. There’s hardly anyone alive who has not heard of the “Virgin” brand that is splashed across everything from Records to Airlines, from Credit cards to Megastores. Branson’s streak of adventure makes him seek out challenging opportunities that he loves to turn around and make a success of.
Disappointment in School
With such a reputation one is forgiven for thinking that Richard Branson had a brilliant time in school. This however is far from the truth because to him school was a nightmare. It was not easy for him because of his dyslexia, which embarrassed him tremendously. He did pretty badly at IQ tests that failed to test his ability on sports and music and what he was actually good at. Therefore no one could recognize the many talents he had, mostly that of being able to realize his dreams and by doing so get others too to recognize their ambitions and fulfill their potential. Richard Branson today is a household name and his personal wealth is identified at around $3 billion. No one has still been able to break his record of being the fastest person to cross the Atlantic Ocean by boat or his ability to circle the globe in a balloon. People never expect such genius from a dyslexic boy.
Talent however cannot always be hidden and in Richard’s case it started to come to light during his teen years. Sick of school and its rigid discipline, he started his own newspaper which was not focused on one school or on any school; but on the students of several schools to give them what they needed. It had news worthy articles on Ministers, intellectuals, celebrities, rock stars etc. and it sold advertising to major corporations. This was in a way a business plan and the first of its kind that Richard Branson put together at the age of 17 while still in school. When the first edition was published, the Headmaster of his school in Stowe wrote “….Congratulations Branson. I predict that you will either go to prison or become a millionaire ….. “ Prophetic words indeed. (I mean the Millionaire part!).
Branson steps into Business
His forage into real business was in 1970 when music stores in London never gave discounts on records. Branson saw his chance and jumped at it without hesitation. He provided an opportunity in his magazine to offer records at cheap prices by running ads for mail order delivery. It was such a success, much more lucrative than the magazine itself that he recruited his magazine staff to start his music store business. Soon enough they were ready with only a name required for it and “Virgin” it became, after one of the students suggested they were “complete virgins at business”. The rest as they say is History. Branson has around 150 companies that make huge amounts of money for him. Virgin airlines however is one of his pet projects and done exactly in the “Branson” style offering reasonable fares on transatlantic flights and other attractive amenities such as movies, massages, ice cream, bedroom and even shower room facilities that goes on making money for him.
His Success and his Charisma
One of the reasons for his great success is that his businesses are all small and not huge corporations with boards and lots of staff. They’re manageable and Branson is aware of everything that goes on while being able to empower other with his fantastic and sometimes flamboyant ideas that nevertheless take off pretty well. Richard Branson is fond of stating that he never went into business solely with the idea of making money; yet that’s what he does over and over again. It’s like he cannot help himself and his charismatic personality and the ability to talk to his employees and get them to tell him their problems have turned him out to be one of the most successful employers ever.
In 1999 Branson was awarded a Knighthood and became Sir Richard Branson for his contribution to the country’s economy. He lives with his wife and two children in London and maybe still thinks its only a dream; As he once said “…."Sometimes I do wake up in the mornings and feel like I've just had the most incredible dream. I've just dreamt my life." Richard Branson