Richard Branson, born on July 18, 1950 in Blackheath, London, has a heart as big as the company he started from a church in London, which became a success overnight.
He was the eldest of the three children in his family, but the fate wasn’t just with him from the time he started breathing.
He was referred dyslexic by the doctors, and was having a hard time reading and writing in school. Nevertheless, a few of his teachers found the potential in him and mentioned that either Branson will end up in jail, or would change the face of the world and become a multi-millionaire. The history stands on its grounds while Branson tastes the heights of success and stands to be called a billionaire.
Branson somehow overcame his dyslexic lifestyle and tried growing and selling Christmas trees and budgerigars. The business didn’t bloom much and hence, he started a magazine named Student at the meager age of 16. This marked the beginning of his billion dollar empire.
For his love and passion for music, he started a mail order record company in 1970, soon after which, a record shop was inaugurated by him on Oxford Street in London. The name “Virgin” was given by one of his early employees due to all of them being new in business. But the one thing that no one expected was the title of Virgin reaching such grandeur and fame.
For his Student magazine, Branson used to interview personalities like Mick Jagger, which rather became an overnight success.
It was due to these magazines and the publicity of the personalities it provided that laid the foundation to his record shop. Within no time, the store started giving competition to the then successful outlets including the High Street operated by WH Smith.
The reason behind the success of Virgin was the low cost it offered, despite of the resale price maintenance applicable at that time.
There was a time when Branson was allegedly questioned about selling export stocks, and to get out of it, he had to pay a lot of tax abruptly. His mother re-mortgaged her home in order to gather the amount of funds to fulfill the tax, but this taught Branson a lesson and he never looked back. He progressed and earned enough from his store that in 1972, he launched his record label by the name, Virgin Records. He built up a household studio in an estate bought from the earnings of the store and started renting it to various budding artists. The best part to this all is that the very first album recorded in this studio hit the tiers of success, which was Tubular Bells, recorded by Mike Oldfield in 1973.
Branson was of the view that instead of touching new heights, he had to gather the clouds and set new heights of success. He took his luck with him and started investing in a large number of other niches. It was in 1979 that he bought a gay nightclub named Heaven from the income he made through the record studio.
The main source of income and success came to Richard when his record company went international in 1980. He chose to stick with the name, Virgin, for the rest of the ventures he planned to invest in, and started taking one step at a time. Launching Virgin Vision and Virgin Games in 1983, Branson started something big, something more influential. It was then that he planned to land up on airlines and launched Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Cargo in 1984. A big leap indeed it was.
Branson fell a few times and had to sell a few of his companies in order to support the other. After all, he was a kind of guy that wanted to own everything, and in order to create such an empire, one needs to make some sacrifices. The most motivational part of Branson is he never left hope, though he did feel bad trading many of his companies. Branson told that it was in 1992 that he had to sell the Virgin label company to EMI for £500 million in order to keep Virgin Atlantic operational. He also said that he spent a commendable amount of time crying for the loss of the company that he started his career with.
But Branson is a strong-hearted person. He never left hope and re-entered the music industry with V2 Records, and rest as they say is history. The tag of Virgin started progressing at an unimaginable speed, a speed that every start-up owner wishes to achieve but usually fail to do so. The ball was in his court, and he put it right into the goal post over and over.
After making an entry to Japan in 1990, Branson again started finding something much more influential. He risked a huge amount of capital by entering British Rail in the form of Virgin Trains in 1993, which was also evidently a successful investment.
It was late in 1999 that Virgin Mobile made a debut in the market and achieved success overnight. Branson thought of breaking all the horizons and going space-wide, not figuratively, but literally. It was in 2004 that he formed Virgin Galactic that would license the technology behind Spaceship One, and would take people who could afford a hefty ticket of $200,000 to tour the space using Scaled Composites White Night Two.
Branson was always skeptical about Global Warming until Virgin Fuels was launched. This new company launched in 2006 provided a cheaper and healthier substitute to the everyday fuel being used and hence marked a substantial step in preventing Global Warming.
In order to achieve an empire of about $5 billion, one has to go through a series of failures too. In case of Branson, though there were just a few of them, but they were not small. It was in 1990 that disputes rose between British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. British Airways were allegedly hacking into the systems of Virgin, which they treated as a huge competition.
Evidently, British Airways lost the case and had to pay a hefty amount as compensation to the Virgin group.
In 20016, Virgin Mobile was sold to NTL for about £1 billion, but Branson couldn’t just stay out of the telecommunication market. Normal people think of getting shares in some company if they want to invest in that niche, but Branson thinks of forming a new company. He launched Virgin Media in 2007 that stood on the same grounds. As of now, he personally owns 15% of this new company.
Branson is also a philanthropist and believes in great charity work. He has also been mentioned to be one of the richest and most successful persons on the Earth. The story of Branson and his self-made empire of more than 400 companies inspire everyone everywhere. It is not everyday that such a legend is born, but as is said, with hard work and determination, everyone can become a legend. Branson quotes,
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.”
Branson is a down-to-Earth person and always commends the team that stood with him through thick and thin. Though Branson has been blamed for tax evasion and using dark marketing techniques in order to prevent paying tax, but he clarified everything in a very subtle manner.
Branson personally owns the Necker Island, which is also his home, away from the hectic lifestyle that he has to lead every day. Here is a video showing a day in the life of this busy man!