An Orange Profile: Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson is the founder of Virgin Group, which runs over 400 companies ranging from airlines to records, cell phones to space travel. Branson is a very high Orange with a net worth approaching four billion dollars. He actually targets industries and businesses that have the worst customer service, or where others are losing a fortune. He then turns the industry thinking and approach upside down, makes a ton of money, and creates happy customers.

Here is a great insight into his business approach from an old interview:

INTERVIEWER: Your high school principal, correct me if I’m wrong, said: “You’re either going to end up in jail or you’re going to be a billionaire.” Why?

BRANSON: I think maybe he saw a little bit of a rebel in me and I suspect that’s why he said it. I mean, I — I was hopeless at school. I mean, I had no interests at all in conventional education. I didn’t like the way that we were being taught at school. I thought there must be a better way — a better way of teaching people, that schooling should be more interesting. So I questioned — I questioned a lot about the way things were being done.

I never had any interest in school. I thought school should be more interesting and I decided to leave at age 15. And so Virgin has been an appropriate name. Almost every industry we’ve gone into we’ve gone into from scratch and…We were virgins at it. And as you say, we also, you know, if we start a new airline somewhere in the world, we’ll try to take on cabin crew, not pilots, if you please note, cabin crew who haven’t necessarily worked for other airlines before. So they’ve come with — we train them and they come with a fresh approach.

INTERVIEWER: How do you go from “Tubular Bells” to, “I want to run an airline”?

BRANSON: I was in Puerto Rico one day, and we — I got bumped off — off an airline. And I was desperate to get to the Virgin Islands. And I went backstage and got out, sort of, can I hire a plane. And I got a blackboard and I wrote, “$39 one way to Puerto Rico. And I went back out, and all the people there bought a one-way ticket to Puerto Rico, and Virgin was born. And there were lots of happy customers. And we actually made — I don’t think I divided the number of passengers quite rightly, so we made about $20 on the trip.”

Sir Richard Branson Rules of Business:

Haggle – everything’s negotiable


Keep it casual

Move like a bullet

Have fun working

Be a common regular person