Who is Richard Branson? 15 Interesting Facts about Richard Branson7 min read

richard branson

Who is Richard Branson? 15 Interesting Facts you didn’t know about Richard Branson

About Richard Branson:

Richard Branson was born in London in 1950. Suffering from dyslexia at school, he didn’t go down the typically academic track but got a taste for business instead. After opening his first record store in 1971, he made enough to open Virgin Records and his ventures soared from there. He now owns a business that consists of four hundred operations and enterprises.

15 things you didn’t know about one of the most famous self-made men in the world, Richard Branson:

1. The name virgin comes from his status as a complete business novice.

The entrepreneurs’ very first business venture was a magazine called ‘student’. He also started selling cheap records and undercutting the local stores. When he began trading under the name virgin he chose the name because he believes that there was no point in starting your own business unless you can do it out of a sense of frustration. Virgin was a reference to him being very new to the business.

Cover Page of Rcihard Branson's Magazine named 'Student'
Cover Page of Rcihard Branson’s Magazine named ‘Student’. Source: virgin.com

2. His record label signed the Sex Pistols when nobody else would.

 Branson founded Virgin Records in 1972 with his friend Nick Powell. Establishing a record studio in a country estate in Oxford. One of their first signings was the controversial punk band ‘The Sex Pistols‘, who were making waves around the world and sometimes for the wrong reasons. There are other signings included Peter Gabriel, UB40 and a little band you might have heard of called the ‘Rolling Stones’.

Richard Branson in front of Record Store
Richard Branson in front of Record Store. Source:virgin.com

3. His record attempt resulted in him being rescued by the Royal Air Force.

Richard Branson is a great lover of trying to break World Records. But his first attempt at the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing didn’t go terribly well. His boat the Virgin Atlantic Challenger capsized and had to be rescued by the Royal Air Force. Embarrassingly, he was still in British waters at the time. So, he clearly didn’t go very far. Some British newspapers insisted that Branson reimburse the RAF for their efforts.

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4. He claims to live on Necker Island in the Caribbean for health, not tax reasons like many billionaires.

Branson has come under fire from the authorities and from the government for not paying enough tax. The Sunday Times calculated his wealth at 3 billion pounds but because of his residence on Necker Island in the Caribbean, he pays very little tax despite all of this criticism. Richard Branson has claimed that his reasons for living on the island are entirely health-related.

Richard Branson at Necker Island.
Richard Branson at Necker Island. Source: mirror.co.uk

5. Virgin Atlantic Airways was established because of a cancelled flight.

Rcihard Branson was on a trip to Puerto Rico but his flight was cancelled. The wealthy Branson chartered a flight and gave the other standard passengers a ride – in exchange for a small fee to cover the cost of hiring it. This proved to be the beginning of his ventures into air travel. Virgin Atlantic Airways was established in 1984.

richard branson first flight
Virgin Atlantic had just one 747 when it started service. Photo: Virgin

6. When he had to sell Virgin Records Branson cried when it went through.

 To keep his airline company going Branson had no choice but to sell Virgin Records in 1992. He hated doing it so much that he cried when the sale went through, mainly because of the sentimental attachment he had to his first business venture. He did sell it for 500 million pounds though, which probably helped to dry those tears.

Photo: bbc.com

7. Virgin Atlantic Airways and British Airways have had a rocky relationship.

The past two airspace domination didn’t run smoothly for Branson. Virgin sued British Airways for poaching passengers. Smearing them in the press and hacking their computers in the 1990s. They settled the case and paid Branson half a million pounds. They were also ordered to pay 110 thousand pounds to cover legal cause. Branson distributed his settlement through his staff citing it to be a bonus.

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A British Airways 787 Dreamliner and A Virgin Atlantic 787 Dreamliner. Photo: simpleflying.com

8. Richard Branson only paid 180 thousand dollars for his island in the British Virgin Islands.

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The Virgin CEO first visited Necker Island in the 1970s when he was considering it for his virgin record signings. A record label clearly isn’t a record label without an island to put up the rockstars. He boldly offered the current owner a very low sum compared to be six million dollars asking price. He was reportedly escorted off the island for his cheek. But the owner found himself in trouble later that year and accepted Branson’s low offer. After all, it’s now worth around two hundred million dollars.

Necker Island- Ariel View, Photo: virgin.com

9. He’s a viable candidate for London Mayor but he’s not that interested in running.

In 2000 when London was looking for a new mayor Branson was suggested as a great candidate. Polls even showed that he would be the most popular candidate by quite a significant percentage. He dominated the poll with 66 percent of 1000 Londoners surveyed, saying that they would vote for Branson over the political candidates. Branson isn’t interested though.

10. Richard Branson wakes up at 5:45 a.m. every day and goes kite surfing.

The Virgin Group founder spends the majority of his time on his Island. So there are many options for his morning exercise. Branson goes to sleep with his curtains open so that the Sun wakes him up naturally before 6:00 a.m. he then goes kite surfing and has a healthy breakfast before getting started on the business for the day.

Rcihard Branson doing Kite Surfing. Photo: bbc.com

11. Branson owns lodges and holiday homes all over the world.

You might think that a billionaire would be content with their Caribbean island but Branson owns a few different pads around the world. Some of the most glamorous are the elusive a safari lodge in South Africa, a ski lodge in Switzerland.

12. Richard Branson hates suits and ties.

This entrepreneur doesn’t believe in smart dress codes, much preferring casual dress. His most personal vendetta is against the tie which he wants to eliminate entirely because he thinks it’s far too restrictive. He’s even quoted as saying “I often carry a pair of scissors with me, ready to cut off the tie of any unsuspecting wearer”

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 He’s even made a cushion out of his snipping which lives on a sofa in his home on Necker Island.

 13. He pays more attention to his gut feeling than statistics.

 Virgin staff calls it a virgin system of one. Branson’s belief that his own gut feeling is more reliable than market research. Some staff like it and others are more critical, which was revealed in des dear love’s book business, the Richard Branson way. Branson makes his mind up quickly to deciding whether a business proposal is for him within 30 seconds. The most important thing is that it has to excite him.

14. Branson believes in a bottom-heavy approach to management.

Richard Branson believes strongly in bottom-heavy management. He prefers to delegate and give out responsibilities to workers and incentivize his staff. Finding top-heavy management stifling for creativity and innovation, this links well with his belief in running a company informally, with absolutely no ties allowed.

15. Richard Branson loves collecting memorable cars.

He doesn’t always gravitate towards the most expensive cars in the world but he has a fine collection of some of the most unusual. He owns a Morris mini-minor, a Humber super snipe, which was produced in Britain from 1938 to 1967 and many other unusual cars from around the world. For driving around London on a normal day though he’s quite fond of the classic Land Rover.

richard branson in a car

There’s no doubt that Richard Branson wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for his unorthodox business style. And it’s one he’s become so famous for. Virgin is one of the most influential brands in the world because it covers so many different industries and sectors, and it’s helped Sir Richard Branson to become one of the most famous business people in the world.

Source: Alux.com

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