Sir Richard Branson is a business tycoon and got game because of the being founder of the Virgin group that has more than 400 companies. He has been ranked as the 4th most wealthy person in the UK. Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is the full name of Richard Branson, born on July 18, 1950, in Surrey, England (Successstory.com, 2018). Edward James Branson, his father, worked as a barrister. Eva Branson, his mother, was a flight attendant. Form the childhood Richard has a problem with Dyslexia due to which he was unable to concentrate on studies and dropped out from schools (Famous Entrepreneurs, 2018). The time that he reached 16, he dropped out again and started his youth culture magazine known as “Student”. First edition of this magazine was launched in 1966. By 1969, he was living in London commune surrounded by drug scene and British music. While he was in between these, Branson had an idea to start a mail-order record company. This was his first step towards expansion of his business. The company he stared was named as Virgin. The company performed well enough that Branson opened a recording studio in Oxford shire, London (Branson, 1950).
With the help of Branson’s team, Mike Oldfield recorded his single “Tubular Bells” in 1973. The song was a big hit and stayed at the UK charts for almost 247 weeks. Branson took advantage of this big hit and signed other aspiring musical groups to label which includes famous Sex Pistols. Culture club, Genesis and rolling stones, an artist like these helped to make Virgin music in becoming one of the top six music record companies in the world (Famous, 2018).
Branson expanded his business by including Voyager group Travel Company (1980) and the Virgin Atlantic airline in 1984 along with high numbers of Virgin Megastores. The success of the company was not predictable, However Company started struggling with low finances. Ultimately, was sold for $1 million to Thorn EMI. Branson dreams were shattered and it has been reported that he was crying while signing the contract. Although his concentration was never out of sight. He remained focused on the music industry that gave him the huge success. Back in 193, Branson founded a small station Virgin Radio where he started a second music record company named V2. After the launch of this new company, Branson signed Tom Jones and Powder Finger. Virgin group within no time crossed the country limits and reaches out to 35 countries in the world with almost 70,000 employees handling the working affairs in the UK. Branson is also known for his sporting achievements. One of the most prominent achievement was notably the record-breaking Atlantic crossing in Virgin Atlantic Challenger II in 1986. Branson was knighted in 1999 for his contribution to entrepreneurship.
Virgin Galactic, Voyages and Hotels
In the recent years, the adventurous Branson shifted his focus towards space tourism venture. He formed an alliance with the Scaled composites to establish Spaceship Company. With the test launch of spaceship two, it made impressive developments back in April 2013. After this successful testing, Branson was looking happy ad more than 500 people reserved tickets to have a ride on Virgin Galactic Spaceship. Branson introduced a new cruise line, named Virgin Voyages, in 2015. The design of the ships are made in such a way that they can hold 2800 guests along with a crew of 1,150 remained on track. Along with this venture, Branson moved towards hotel business by founded Virgin hotel in 2010. The latest acquisition made in 2018, by taking over Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. The company had a plan to maintain Status Quo before going for renovation in 2019 (Ft.com).
Theories of Entrepreneurship
These theories focus on the individual and the mental or emotional elements that drive entrepreneur individuals. This theory was put forward by David McClelland. The theory explains that people that have a high locus of internal control have the power to influence anyone. In case of Richard, for the childhood, he was suffering from the power of Dyslexia but this problem did not make him internally weak. Thought made him internally strong him that is one of the reasons he took chance and established his own business. When his business was shattered because of not having enough financials to support his business. He did not panicked but continuously striving for the ways to establish his business again. These internally and mentally strong capabilities lead him to become what he is today.
Sociologist theories have the centre focus with the explanation on entrepreneurship with various contexts that enables the opportunities this theory explains how social attitudes shapes the perception of entrepreneurship and entrepreneur’s behaviour. In case of Richard, when he was living in London, he was surrounded by drug dealers and musician. Because of these, he had an idea of making a music record company. At that time music was one of the top leading business in the UK. He opened up a music record company in Oxford shire, London. This company was later found success after the first song was recorded in the studio. The song was a big hit in the market and continued on the charts of the UK for almost straight 234 weeks.
According to Kete de Vries, those who have troubled children become successful in their lives. In a troubled childhood, children tend to be low self-esteem, security and low confidence. Growing in the environment, people do have repressed wishes. In case of Richard, in his childhood, he has so many troubles with reading writing. He was dropped out of schools so many times. But now he is one of the top 5 billionaires in the UK. This shows that the way he coped with the childhood situation is remarkable. The strength to do it made him what he is today.
Richard Branson Leadership
Richard has vibrant advertising ideas, creative spirit and innovative methods that helped him attract more and more customers and gave him a fame like an Oscar award (Anon, 2018). Throughout his journey, Branson faced many failures but he had this belief of “no taking as no for an answer”. He did not panicked and continued striving for producing best results. He always got people’s attention. In the ups and downs of establishing Virgin, one can easily see the leadership style that led him to what he is right now. According to him, it doesn’t matter how many times you fail, it is just normal, failures should not make you weak but strengthen you to overcome your failure and look for the best. Branson looks entrepreneurship as a business challenge while other looks it in a way of just becoming successful. He is the pride in himself that he offered more customer value to many other companies operating in the UK. Customers had already a sense of feeling that they were treated fairly in the market when virgin entered. The values given by Branson made a strong positive impact on the minds of customers (Forum, 2017).
Branson had a belief of taking out the best players in the market while another look at the bigger player of the market as powerful leaders.one of the biggest reason of Branson’s fame is his innovative style and positive attitude (William, 2017). In 1960’s, his affirmation to the hippies’ movement shows how courageous and innovative he is. This is considered as one of the biggest attributes of his business success. Because of this, it allowed Branson to make his brand as cool in the minds of customers. The excitement was considered as his challenge, though money is not always the measure of performance. The environment provided to the employees of the Virgin makes them stay loyal even in the case that they were getting paid less than the paid for the similar jobs offered in the market. Major concerns for the organizations today is employee retention. It is quite terrifying that most of the organizations today do not address this issue which results in them in low productivity and high cost. It has been said in one of the articles that most of the employees working in the USA change their job within 2 to 3 years span of time. The reason behind this is not getting enough attention from the top management of the company. “There are many things in the world that are not perfect and I think students can make this world a much better place. If you are going to spend your life doing something, you should spend it doing something that’s going to make a positive difference in people’s lives” (Lsbf.org.uk).
For Branson money was not just the only measure of performance but the working environment and inside the culture of the company important role in the retention of the employees. This stopped employees from switching to other companies because Branson took care of them and provided them with a challenging and exciting environment in the organization. Branson had this believe that business should be fun, it should not be taken as just performing duties and getting paid (Ollila et al, 2012). Employees should enjoy working in the organization this is better for both the employees and the organization. The success Branson has today is entirely dependent upon his beliefs. It is as like as in sports in which one has to enjoy and has to win as well. Branson inspires people by creating an exciting working culture that helped him motivate his employees and made them produce what they were intended to produce.
For instance, Branson inspired his employees of Virgin sales in such a way that it was not formally be done in other companies operating in the market. He makes goals for every department and wanted them to achieve them on time. The culture of Virgin is “Doing the impossible, possible”. Because of exciting working culture, people were motivated to join this organization so that they can grow with it.
The leadership style of Branson was transformational in a way that he focused on reputational branding instead of service branding (Niphadkar, 2017). Virgin brand is known for his attributes like creating value, reliability, and return on investment, adventure and fun at work. Just like other companies, Virgin also faced ups and downs in its journey but it remained cool in its operations in the market and became the trendsetter across the globe. Marketing anywhere and everywhere is one of the strongest beliefs of Virgin Company.
From the journey of zero to the top 5 billionaires of UK, one can observe that Branson did not let people follow him but giving them the sense to think and freedom to create. Branson in his leadership style allowed his employees to make mistakes but at the same time, he encourages them to make an innovation by creating an innovative idea which would result in the expansion of the company. It is one of the strong qualities of a leader to motivate his team, Branson did exactly that by continuously becoming the motivator at all times.
One of the great decisions made by Branson was when the company in Virgin reaches to a certain level he gave full control of the company to the manager of the company. This policy of promoting employees give them a sense that they are taking care of and have the opportunity provided by the owner so that they can innovate new ideas and shine on the organization. Strong attribute of Branson leadership was he takes all the responsibility of any loss that has been incurred because of employees so that they will never feel demotivated and exhausted along with that if a company makes good profit in the market he just not take all of credit but to encourage his employees he give that credit to his employees all the time. Branson takes the first step towards the expansion of business and his employees follow them to achieve the target. He had this influential attribute present inside his leadership that he can motivate employees and get them to achieve what he wanted them to achieve. He was playing the role of a captain that just leads the team and intervene only when it is necessary (Lerner et al., 2018).
Measure of Success
Branson’s set of beliefs made him the successful entrepreneur. His belief for not taking no for an answer is the strongest attribute he had. Throughout his journey, he faced many failures but continually strive to get back up. This positive attitude led him where he is right now. When Virgin was sold in the initial phase, he was shattered and even cried while signing the contract but this failure did not break him but gave him the courage to get back up and rise again. He was not just focused on one business but always looked for other opportunities and move quickly along with them. Credo of Branson is “If you know one business, you know every business”. He added “If you run a record company, you can run an airline. If you can run an airline, you can run a bank. If you can run a bank, you can run a soft drink company.” (Johnson et al., 2017)
Finding the right people at right people is another factor of his success. He was not focused on the people that are experts in their fields, but he focused on people that were good in communication (Leadersmag.com, 2018). According to him,” What makes somebody good is how good they are at dealing with people”. Branson said,” If you can find people who are good at motivating others and getting the best out of people, they are the ones you want. There are plenty of so-called experts, but not as many as many great motivators of people” (Rifkin, 1998).
Employee retention is another aspect of Branson’s success. Nowadays organizations do not pay attention towards employee retention. Mentioned previously in the paper that employee changes their jobs within 2 to 3 years span of time. Mainly because of the working environment and having no attention from the management of the company. The working environment and inside the culture of the company important role in the retention of the employees. This stopped employees from switching to other companies because Branson took care of them and provided them with a challenging and exciting environment in the organization. “Screw Business as usual” one of the famous sayings in different occasions (Keynote, 2018). Branson had this believe that business should be fun, it should not be taken as just performing duties and getting paid. Employees should enjoy working in the organization this is better for both the employees and the organization. Opportunistic nature of Branson is one of the key factors that helped him in his success. A person is said to be opportunistic who see the opportunity and avail it as soon as possible. In case of Branson, every opportunity that he saw throughout his journey he makes quick moves in capturing that opportunity. He had this belief that if you can run one company you can run another company.
Above picture shows the snapshot of Virgin group in the UK (2017). Form the snapshot one can clearly see the group remained focused on providing their customers with great value and quality products. Group made significant improvements in the delivery network across different areas of business in 2017. Now many people recommend Virgin money to their family and friends. Net promoting score rises from 29 in 2016 to 40 in 2017. The strength of the business lies in the customer-focused strategy. The overall performance of the company is astonishing and made profits on a continues basis. Snapshot of 2017 also depicts its strong financial performance in the market (Uk.virginmoney.com).
There are 200 companies in the Virgin Company but it is not quite realistic that one gets his hands on leader of every single company. Branson always strikes first whenever he sees an opportunity. His approach to the opportunity is very fast and quick, he makes full use of the opportunity. For every company, it usually takes 2 to 3 years to make an idea and move its operation s in the market. In case of Branson, it took five months for both Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Airways when ideas were floated in the market. The success of Branson is based on the fact that he does not just let every manager of his company know or convince about the idea he had for expansion. He makes the decision implement the decision and then collaborate with his employees and get them on the road to achieve the target. Somehow Branson always saw to be the man of the moment.
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