Richard Branson (or Sir Richard Branson, if you prefer) is one of the world's most successful entrepreneurs. A self described "Adventure Capitalist", he had his first successful business venture at the age of 16 (Student Magazine) and today has over 350 companies under his Virgin brand with a net worth of approximately $2.5 billion US dollars (ranking him 261st richest people in the world according to Forbes 2009 list of billionaires).
While his success is astounding, there is an underlying story that is essential for every entrepreneur to know. On numerous occasions, the difference between business start up success and failure has been determined by his ability to be highly creative in problem solving, being able to think on his feet and recognizing potential obstacles (sometimes before they existed) and overcoming them.
When he first launched his magazine, he needed his first advertiser. Most established companies might be reluctant to advertise in a newly formed publication being run by a teenager - who wouldn't be? But their uneasiness quickly disappears when the magazine’s phones seem to be ringing off the hook. But there is a story to WHY they were ringing off the hook - and it wasn't other interested advertisers, like the established company considering investing money for an ad presumed.
When he launched his Virgin music label, he had the opportunity to record many great musicians....but he almost never got started when he bought a castle intended to be set up as a music recording studio in the English country, and there was a local noise ordinance that he forgot to check that prevented him from making too much noise. There is a fascinating story of how he overcame this problem.
Virgin Atlantic Airways. The modern standard for trans-Atlantic luxury flight almost never got started when his first (and only plane at the time) had its engine literally blow up right before the test flight (that would get the aircraft certified by the English government as an air carrier) and it was captured on film by a photographer. Once again, he escaped the jaws of failure.
Richard Branson has the unique ability to overcome adversity through perseverance born out of sheer determination and willpower to succeed. When combined with creative problem solving skills and his other talents, his success in business becomes less luck and almost a natural conclusion, given his recipe for success.
Learn more about how he overcame the problems outline above in our next blog post. Meanwhile, we hope you will enjoy watching in an interview he did for Eye to Eye with Katie Couric.