Friday, June 26, 2009


The second of my ‘Spotlight on a Millionaire’ series focuses on Sir Richard Branson. Sir Richard has demonstrated that anyone could be a successful entrepreneur with the right attitude and mindset. OK, so he’s a billionaire now, but the same principles apply.

In 2008, Forbes Magazine named Sir Richard among the 250 richest people in the world. Born on July 18 1950, the young Branson suffered from dyslexia and consequently, struggled academically. However, he identified his key strengths at a very early age. That skill was his ability to relate to people effortlessly and genuinely.

Sir Richard came from a reputable family with both father and grandfather working in the judiciary. That did not deter him from starting his entrepreneurship selling records out of the trunk of his car.

With hard work and a good team around him, he soon graduated to owning a record store in Oxford Street, London. He also co-owned the record label, Virgin Records which he sold in 1992 to grow his Virgin Airline business. Subsequently, he has entered the railway industry and continues to grow his airline business. For example, recently, the entrepreneur merged with SN Brussels Airline and has also formed a brand new national airline in Nigeria, Virgin Nigeria.

In 1992, Sir Richard demonstrated his people touch by splitting an out of court settlement of over £500k paid by British Airways for alleged libel, among his employees.

He received his knighthood in 1999 for his services to entrepreneurship. A man who never rests on his laurels, he has been involved in several world record attempts, including crossing the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by sea and air and circumnavigating the globe.

Recently, he has worked with Nelson Mandela and musician Peter Gabriel to appoint prominent global leaders to form a group known as The Elders, tasked with finding solutions to some of the world’s long standing conflicts.

Several lessons can be learnt from the achievements of Sir Richard Branson. Firstly, his lack of academic achievement shows that we all have weaknesses, even the most successful entrepreneurs. However, we can overcome these weaknesses by focusing on our key strengths. His was relating to people in a positive way, demonstrated by his tremendous generosity towards his employees mentioned above. Secondly, the best entrepreneurs are those who demonstrate leadership – the better your leadership, the more likely you are to achieve results. Thirdly, a successful entrepreneur does not sit back and admire his achievements but instead is always looking for new challenges.

Watch out for the next ‘Spotlight on a Millionaire’.

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