“To me, business isn’t about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.” ~Richard Branson
Richard Branson is one of the richest men in the world—and it’s because of the hugely successful company he conceived back in 1970, the Virgin Group. One of the leading international business groups, Virgin is a well-known, liked, and respected brand that has a diverse portfolio of companies under its wing—from mobile telephones to financial services, to music, Virgin is a brand that people recognize and trust.
But Virgin wasn’t the first business venture for our Sir Richard Branson—in 1968, when he was just seventeen, Branson published a magazine called Student. That same year, he conceived of the Student Advisory Centre, a resource helpline for young adults to call when they don’t know how to deal with problems. He came up with the idea after he accidentally got his girlfriend pregnant and didn’t know where to go for the help they needed.
Virgin was born in 1970, when Branson began selling discounted records through mail order. A year later, the first Virgin Record Shop opened in London, and a year after that, the company opened Britain’s first “residential recording studio.” By 1973, the music label Virgin Records and Virgin Music Publishing had opened—and with stunning success. From there, Branson’s success just kept growing and the company kept expanding into different areas.
Now, at sixty-two years old, Richard Branson is worth an estimated $4.6 billion dollars. And earlier this year, he made headlines by taking the Giving Pledge, promising to give away the majority of his wealth during his life or upon death. His business endeavors are far from over, though. His current project is Virgin Galactic, which aims to offer commercial flights to the edge of space. The program is expected to open to the public by 2014.
Outside of business life, Branson has been active in humanitarian initiatives, including the funding of the South African leadership group, The Elders. He has also set up the Branson School of Entrepreneurship in South Africa to help stimulate economic growth by supporting local start-ups and business enterprises. In 2008, he hosted an environmental gathering on his private island, Necker Island, to discuss with world leaders, celebrities, and entrepreneurs the issue of global warming.
Branson is as adventurous as entrepreneurs come, and his business practices have brought him and his company great success over the years. After his Virgin Galactic enterprise, which seems to be well on its way to being complete, we can’t help but wonder what will come next for him.