How Richard Branson Became a Billionaire

Sir Richard Branson – a British born multi-billionaire business magnate – is an inspiration to us all. Why? Well, not only has he built his own fortune from modest beginnings, but he is now worth an estimated $4.6 billion (2013) and ranked #272 in Forbes Worldwide Billionaires List. With a portfolio of over 200 companies, and having made his first million at the age of 25, we should use his success story to motivate ourselves into becoming the next multi-billionaire too!

How it all began

Starting his entrepreneurial career at the age of 16, he launched The Student magazine. His overnight success was put down to the fact that he was able to fill a niche in the market – selling records at a price less than the high street. This achievement soon enabled him to open up a shop on Oxford Street in London called Virgin.


It was now that brand ‘Virgin’ was about to take off. Branson collaborated with Nik Powell to launch a record label – Virgin Records, in 1972. Leasing out studio time from their country estate, their name and reputation was soon nationwide. To keep the brand and popularity of the name alive, Richard signed many controversial bands to his label including the Sex Pistols.

Pushing himself to achieve “huge, apparently unachievable challenges” (Branson autobiography), he decided to launch an airline. The Famous Virgin Atlantic Airways was created in 1984, and this would see Branson’s wealth go from a millionaire to a multi-billionaire!

Following in the success of his airline, he launched the popular Virgin Mobile in 1999 and even created the Virgin version of cola and vodka! These business ventures cemented Branson as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world. 

Interesting facts about Richard Branson

  • When Branson was at school, he suffered from dyslexia, and with few academic achievements, his prospects for securing a well-paid job in those days were low.
  • Unbeknown to many, Richard’s first two entrepreneurial attempts failed. His first failure was a Christmas tree growing venture, and the other was raising budgerigars.
  • After winning a court case against British Airways (caught for playing dirty tricks against Virgin), he was awarded £500,000: £110,000 awarded to Virgin Airways, and £3 million in legal fees paid for by BA. Branson generously divided the compensation among his staff – widely known as the BA Bonus!
  • Not only does the business magnate own his own wildlife reserve in South Africa, he also owns his own Caribbean island (Necker Island), which is frequented by A-list celebrities all year round.
  • In 2007, Richard Branson stunned the media by announcing the Virgin Earth Challenge, which will award $25million to the individual or group capable of designing a commercially viable design to remove anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse cases without harmful effects.
  • Branson has made several attempts to break world records (of which some he failed first time around!) including: the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing in the Virgin Atlantic Challenger II and crossing the Atlantic in his Virgin Atlantic Flyer hot air balloon.
  • Who is Richard Branson’s inspiration? Nelson Mandela of course. Not only does Branson consider him an inspiration, but they are friends.

Looking at Richard Branson’s life so far, it is clear to see that the route to success is not a straight path. In fact, it is a result of hard work and sheer determination. Branson never allowed any failures or difficulties set him back, he simply used these experiences to push himself further. If we have our goal set in mind, and focus solely on achieving this goal, it can be achieved. Good luck!