Richard Branson: the enduring entrepreneur at 65
Famous UK entrepreneur and investor Richard Branson turned 65 on Saturday July 18. UK academics comment on his enduring success as an entrepreneur.
Deniz Ucbasaran, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Warwick Business School in Coventry, UK says “Some people consider entrepreneurs to be extreme risk takers and people who have made it from rags to riches.
“If this holds true then Richard Branson wouldn’t qualify. But I suspect few would disagree with the label entrepreneur being associated with Branson. Why? Because Branson spots opportunities – opportunities to improve customers’ well-being, even if on a small scale.
“He clearly has empathy with customer problems and a creative brain to solve these problems. Importantly, however, Branson acts on these opportunities to create value for customers even when faced with the certainty of being challenged by incumbents but with the uncertainty of knowing what shape that challenge will take as well as knowing how to respond.
“He is able to do this, not because he is a risk taker but because he knows what he can afford to lose and is confident that he can engage the energies of those around him by sharing his vision for a better future for customers.”
Nicos Nicolaou is a Professor within the Entrepreneurship & Innovation department of Warwick Business School and believes Branson’s success as an entrepreneur can partly be attributed to something often deemed as a considerable learning disadvantage: dyslexia.
“Richard Branson is an interesting example of an entrepreneur. Many people forget Branson is dyslexic, and research has found that dyslexics are often more likely than others to become entrepreneurs,” added Professor Nicolaou.
“This is because they take a more creative and take a holistic view of things. Just look at some of the other hugely successful entrepreneurs: Steve Jobs, Henry Ford and Charles Schwab were, or are, also dyslexic. So dyslexia can be gift that accounts for part of their success.
“Branson, through his own admission, attributed frustration as a major factor in driving his entrepreneurial spirit at the beginning of his journey. Much like Steve Jobs, he was frustrated by the restricted environment of school and college, so instead challenged authority by looking for an opportunity – for Branson it was selling records by undercutting the High Street competition. That soon became establishing an airline, a mobile network, rail company and so on.
“The story is Branson was told by his headmaster he would either find himself in prison, or as a millionaire, and we all know how that story panned out – Branson’s net worth stands at multiple billions.
"It is ultimately that determination to be creative and look at the big picture that has made him such a success story.”
July 19, 2015