Sir Richard Branson's road to success hasn't been an easy one, having dropped out of school at 16 and struggling with dyslexia. He's now one of the most wealthy and successful business people on the planet, with an estimated net worth of $4.1 billion as of 2020. As such an inspirational figure to so many, it's worth exploring the highlights of his career, and how he achieved such stellar success.
Branson was born in Surrey, England, in 1950. His father worked as a barrister and his mother as an airline stewardess and the couple sent a young Branson to boarding school. At school he struggled with severe dyslexia and dropped out aged just 16 in order to start a culture magazine called Student. He managed to secure $8,000 worth of advertising for the first print run alone.
By 1969, Branson had moved to London and was surrounded by the dynamic music scene, which inspired him to create Virgin. Virgin began life as a mail-order record service but, ambitious to expand, Branson then bought a bricks and mortar record store on Oxford Street. He then progressed to building his own record studio in 1972, and Virgin Records took off.
Branson then expanded on a bigger scale, with the Voyager Group travel company, Virgin Atlantic airline and a series of Virgin Megastores added to his portfolio. Branson was crushed when Virgin, in financial trouble, had to be sold in 1992. A year later he bounced back, founding Virgin Radio and a second record company called V2.
The Virgin group eventually reached 35 countries, with 70,000 employees across the world. Not content to sit back and enjoy his success, Branson went on to create space-tourism company Virgin Galactic, cruise line Virgin Voyages and the high-end Virgin Hotels.
It's not all been successes though, and Branson has failed in numerous ventures. Virgin Cars, Virgin Cola, Virgin Brides, Virgin Publishing and Virgin Clothing never made it off the ground. Branson, however, is inspirational in that he embraces failure. He has been quoted as saying 'the secret to bouncing back is not only to be unafraid of failures but to use them as motivational and learning tools'.
That's part of the secret to Branson's achievements – he is a man who seizes every opportunity, for good or for bad. His optimism, determination and drive have inspired millions of business people, making him one of the greatest role models for the business community.
Began his business career aged just 16
Founded his Virgin brand in 1969
Rapidly expanded and diversified his business ventures
He embraces failures and mistakes
Optimism, determination and drive led to his success