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Amazing Business Story: Richard Branston


This is the maiden edition of Amazing Business Stories, a category dedicated to spotlighting successful CEOs and entrepreneurs all around the world with the purpose of learning who they are and what helped them to get to where they are now. We believe strongly that if we can imbibe the habits and characters of these highly successful individuals then we can be better positioned to achieve that all-important success in our business endeavors.

This week we beam our lights on Richard Branston, the founder of the Virgin group and a highly prolific businessman. Richard Branston was born on July 18, 1950 in Blackheath, England. He attended school until the age of sixteen, after which there was no more mention of his academic history; which was only to be expected because young Richard had a condition known as Dyslexia.

 Dyslexia is a learning disorder marked by a severe difficulty in recognizing and understanding written language, leading to spelling and writing problems. So Richard performed badly in school but he soon discovered that he possessed an enormous talent in connecting with people, and this played a big role in the building of his Virgin Empire. His parents also played a significant role in his life.

They were very supportive of his endeavor from a little age. They always encouraged him to go ahead and do what he wanted, and on one occasion his mother helped to pay a fine that was placed on him during the early days of his business.

After various attempts in different businesses, Richard finally started his first successful business, a magazine called Student at the age of 16. He advertised popular records in the Student and the magazine was successful. And then in 1970 he began a mail-order record business. This quickly materialized into a record store the following year.

Seeing how successful these ventures were Richard took another step and began his own recording studio where he leased out time to the budding artists. And then the very next year he launched his own record label called Virgin Records. Six years after, he bought a gay nightclub called Heaven. And then in 1980, the year after he took ownership of Heaven nightclub Virgin Records went international.

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This is the start of an Empire that would span the better parts of four decades and would extend from music to telecommunication, health to banking, travels to leisure, making Richard the only man to build eight billion-Dollar companies in eight different sectors. According to Forbes 2012 list of billionaires, Richard Branson is the 6th richest citizen of the United Kingdom with an estimated net worth of $4.6 billion.

 Virtually every single year, starting from 1966, Richard initiates at least one new business under the Virgin name. There are now over 100 Virgin companies worldwide employing approximately 60,000 people in over 50 countries. In Nigeria, there is Virgin Nigeria, the country’s national carrier.

Five lessons from Sir Richard Branston

It is never too early to start:

There is no greater thief of opportunity than procrastination. Many of us are gifted with brilliant business ideas but we waste them away by postponing the day of commencement. We keep hoping for the perfect time to start. Hello!!! There is never a perfect time or perfect circumstance. Whatever you can think of start working on it right away, not after you get into school, or after you graduate, or after you get married. The time is now!

Search for your strong side, use it to your advantage:

Richard had Dyslexia, which automatically meant that he performed badly in school and it also means that many would have considered him a failure. But no one was created a failure; everyone has a strong side, an area where he or she is better than most other people. Richard found his and he used it to his advantage. We spoke about this in 5 ways to develop a business idea. Find an area that you are most comfortable, and use it to complement that where you are lacking.

After one success move to the next:

Winston Churchill once said, ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the ability to move on that counts’. Do not relax on one success, after you achieve one thing move to the next. The fact that you were able to achieve that victory means that there is still a lot in you. There is so much you are capable of, never limit yourself.

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Dream big:

Richard wrote in his biography “My interest in life comes from setting for myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them…” One of the greatest disfavors you can do to yourself is to dream small. It is not just an insult on yourself but also on your creator, who created you for GREAT wonders. Here is the litmus test; if your dream is not so huge that it scares you or amazes people around you then you need to go back and think about your life again.

And when you become a parent:

Try to support your child in the development of his God’s given talent. There is a reason why it is there, it is not for fun or a mistake, it is the primary source of that child’s livelihood. Look around you, some of the biggest most successful individuals didn’t school as much as those who are now working for them; or the areas where their businesses are built are different from what they studied in school. All the young entrepreneurs I have spoken with so far are doing something completely different from what they studied while in school.

Do not misunderstand me, I am not saying school is not right, but learn to be perceptive to your child’s talents and interests, and do as much as you can to help that child develop it. It is five times more important than anything he would ever learn from any classroom. Imagine what would have happened if Richard Branson’s parent were not as supportive as they were, he might just have ended up in prison as one of his headmasters had predicted.

Information courtesy: Wikipedia

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