Richard Branson

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Think Like Spotlight: Richard Branson

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When you read Think Like you are not just reading another self-help book. You are reading over 20 different roadmaps to success. Perhaps one of the most non-traditional roadmaps in the book is that of a well-known entrepreneur from England: Sir Richard Branson.

Claim To Fame: Virgin Group

Entrepreneurial History

Like many other entrepreneurs, Richard Branson developed an early interest in entrepreneurship. In fact, he was just 16 years old when he embarked on his first business venture in 1966: a magazine called Student. With the magazine as his medium, Branson was able to interview and interact with some of the most influential musical names at the time. He also utilized the magazine to sell discounted versions of popular records. It was this success that sparked his first brick and mortar business — Virgin Record Stores.

Virgin started out simple enough. Richard and his business partners were merely selling records after all. But the money was good and the interest was there so, in 1972, Richard Branson launched the very first Virgin Records label. Virgin Records would remain a part of Branson’s repertoire until 1992 when he sold it for £500 million to assist in maintaining another of his more prominent business ventures: Virgin Atlantic Airways.

The airline company was formed in 1984 after a flight Richard was scheduled to be on was canceled. Rather than change his plans, the entrepreneur decided to charter his own plane and offer a ride to the rest of the would-be passengers for a reasonable sum. The company received enough public support and attention to worry other key industry players like British Airways.

Later, Richard would expand his travel interests, which already included air (Virgin Atlantic) and earth (Virgin Trains), to space with the creation of Virgin Galactic. This particular subset of the Virgin group is preparing to offer space tours to the general public.

Always looking to diversify, Branson had also established media group Virgin Mobile in 1999. He owned roughly 75% of the company until 2006 when he executed a sale that would effectively merge the mobile group with a tv/broadband/telephone company called NTL: Telewest. Virgin Mobile “sold” for almost £1 billion, and Richard still owns 15% of the new, merged entity.

The Virgin Group (and Richard Branson) would go on to control more than 400 companies. Some were considered extremely successful, others less so. What’s most important is that Richard’s entrepreneurial brain never stops spinning. He is unafraid to diversify, and he is unafraid to fail. And, in true Richard fashion, he is unafraid to vocalize his thoughts on several modern-day issues like environmentalism and global warming, thereby creating the thin level of transparency valued by modern consumers.

Be sure to pick up a copy of Think Like to learn more about the mindset and practices that enabled Richard Branson to build the Virgin empire.