Richard Branson, in his twenties, was the owner of an unfortunate résumé.
As one writer from Success.com put it, Branson was:
“… high-school dropout with poor reading and math skills. Failed get-rich-quick schemes. Long-haired, barefooted hippie. Struggling business that led to two arrests and a night in jail on suspicion of tax evasion.”
Well, as another website puts it: You are what you venture.
That’s what it says on the website for the National Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation which states its mission:
“… to celebrate the living spirit and untold stories of great entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators as we inspire and support the next generation to solve challenges across time, language and culture.
In that spirit this is space to examine the ideas of Richard Branson, culled from several articles online, and meant to help encourage a new generation of frustrated, underemployed or longterm unemployed people currently also saddled with unfortunate résumés.
Branson left school to pursue his own goals, but he tells people it can be a difficult choice. Well-meaning family members and friends, who believe that finishing an educational course and completing your studies is the better idea for everyone, may be unable to understand the decision.
When asked what it takes to be an entrepreneur, the Virgin.com website reports what the Virgin Group Founder believes:
“It starts with inquisitiveness, I guess. I love learning. I’ve never thought I’m starting a company as such, I’ve just seen situations when I’ve been traveling where I’d thought I could improve on something. One of my favorite phrases is ‘Screw it, let’s do it’, I’ve used it a lot of times because we love going into industries and shaking them up, doing something that’s never been done before.”
From Success magazine online, it states that Branson “… remains mindful of his own entrepreneurial beginnings, as well as the fact that great ideas from up-and-comers help fuel the Virgin Group today.”
One key to entrepreneurial success, according to Branson, is to gather “… a great group of people around you who believe in your idea.” He adds:
“Entrepreneurship is business’s beating heart. Entrepreneurship isn’t about capital; it’s about ideas. Entrepreneurship is also about excellence. Not excellence measured in awards or other people’s approval, but the sort that one achieves for oneself by exploring what the world has to offer.”
Branson revealed in an Entrepreneur online response: “Whatever the type of enterprise you eventually launch, you can reassure your parents that you will be learning marketable skills as you go.”
Leaving school at 16 to start a business, Branson believes that he and his friends learned much more than they ever could have absorbed in a classroom. It may not be the road taken by others of course, but if it is, he says:
“Your family might ask you, why not continue with your studies? And what constitutes a good education for an entrepreneur? I’ve found that there is simply no match for life experience. The lessons a budding entrepreneur learns while making mistakes and finding ways to recover from them are invaluable to her development.”
Branson suggests that individuals be prepared to tell others about the plans and strategies devised for that startup idea.
“If you want to launch your startup right away, be prepared to tell your family about your plans and strategies. Look into contacting local programs that offer seed money for small businesses, Branson said.
But as an alternative idea, Branson suggests the possibility of both launching the business and continuing with studies.
“These days, some universities are giving students who leave school early, better opportunities to pursue their studies as they see fit. I recently met with representatives from the London School of Business & Finance, who are looking to introduce online support for those starting out in business. This will give their students the chance to try their hand at business, with guidance from mentors who have years of experience. This is a great example of the type of program that may suit your goals.”
While Branson jokes that he won’t be passing an exam in rocket science any time soon, he remains confident that his recent work with Virgin Galactic employees has increased his knowledge in that specific area.
“Since then Virgin has started so many businesses, often in areas in which we initially had little or no knowledge,” Branson said, “that it feels as though my education has never ended.”