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How The Virgin Group Was Started

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A self titled rebel billionaire and the founder of one of the biggest conglomerates in the world, Sir Richard Branson is the owner of 400 companies in 30 countries.

Known for his alternative way of thinking, Richard Branson always challenged himself to go a step further believing that he can not only compete with large enterprises but could also do their job better. All the Virgin businesses operating today are known to work with controversial and subversive artists as well as successful ones. Almost all of the businesses started by Richard Branson challenged the established behemoths in different industries and beat them at their own game. The life story of one of the richest people in the world today is filled with highs and lows and lots of lessons to learn.

Born in Surrey England, Sir Richard Branson started his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 16. In 1968, he launched his first business, a magazine by the name Student which was run only by students. While starting a magazine in itself is a great accomplishment, Sir Richard Branson was also dyslexic, who could not read, write or spell well and was often beaten for poor behavior. The publication sold $8,000 worth of advertising in its first edition and the first run of 50,000 copies was disseminated for free. However, Branson covered the cost of publication through advertising later.

Post the success of the Student, at the age of 17, living in a London commune, Branson along with Nik Powell had the idea to start a mail order record company to help fund his magazine efforts. Considering themselves to be a ‘virgin’ to the business, both the young entrepreneurs decided to name the new company Virgin Records. Starting from a London commune, Virgin Group today has an annual revenue of over £19.5 billion. The success of Virgin Records allowed Branson to build a recording studio in 1972 in Oxfordshire, England.

The first ever record produced by Virgin Records was also an instant smash and Mike Oldfield’s single “Tubular Bells” stayed on the UK charts for 247 weeks. In the following years, Branson signed other aspiring musical groups to the label, including the Sex Pistols, The Culture Club, The Rolling Stones and Genesis. Virgin Records grew to become Virgin Music and one of the top six record companies in the world.

But, this was just the tip of the iceberg. By 1984, he decided to expand further and included the Voyager Group travel company to his cap. He added the Virgin Atlantic airline and a series of Virgin Megastores in 1984. But Branson’s iceberg was also hit by the Titanic. In a span of a decade, by 1992, Virgin was suddenly struggling to stay financially afloat.

Despite that, Richard Branson did not lose hope. He launched Virgin Radio in 1993 followed by a second record company V2 in 1996. In 1997, he launched the Virgin Trains which became the most criticised operator on the railways within a year. 1998 saw the birth of the Virgin Mobile. The Virgin Galactic an airline that will operate in space was then launched in 2004. The Virgin Active UK gym chain took shape in 2005. In 2015, the Virgin Voyages was announced which was supposed to be a new cruise line. Virgin cruise ships are set to debut in 2020 and are designed to hold 2,800 guests and a crew of 1,150 people.

Slowly but surely, the Virgin group was a part of 35 countries around the world, with nearly 70,000 employees. The company handles affairs in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, Asia, Europe, South Africa and beyond.

Richard Branson has set new goals for himself every step of the way challenging norms, breaking records and inspiring people to go the extra mile. Knighted for his services to entrepreneurship in 1999, he resides on his private island, the Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, contributing to humanitarian services whenever possible and addressing important issues in the world with the same enthusiasm and vigor.

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Famous People Who Turned Their Failures Into Success Stories

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Struggles and failures are a part of everyday life. However, it is how you deal with the failures which makes you a great person. Every great entrepreneur has had their fair share of lows before they rose up stronger than before. From Richard Branson to Dhirubhai Ambani and to Steve Jobs, every great success story started off with nothing. Here is our list of entrepreneurs who went through major failures before becoming some of the most famous people in the world!

1. Arianna Huffington

Picture credits: huffingtonpost.com

Arianna Huffington had one dream in life and one major drawback for achieving the dream: she didn’t know how to speak the English language. Everyone around Huffington thought her dream was going to be just that. Language was a major hindrance for her and even when she got into Cambridge, life wasn’t easy. She had to learn the language by reading and listening to everything in English and slowly, by speaking in the language she wasn’t sure of, Huffington started overcoming her fear.

While not a direct failure, her lack of the knowledge definitely acted as a major roadblock. Coming from a life where she and her mother had to work to make ends meet, Huffington led a constant life of struggle. Despite working through the day, Arianna still wanted to overcome her inabilities by working on her English pronunciation skills. From not knowing the language to mastering it so much that she could write her first book, The Female Woman, Huffington’s life saw an inspirational rise.

Even through all the roadblocks and mind blocks, Huffington pushed past her struggles to become the CEO and founder of the extremely famous Huffington Post. Even after that, the struggles just refused to stop. From fainting out of sheer exhaustion to realising sleep was important, Huffington addressed very issue with skill and talent. A woman who has grown through all the hurdles thrown at her in life, Arianna Huffington has shown that no block is too great and every barrier can be overcome!

2. Steve Jobs

Picture credits: medium.com

More than a decade ago, when Jobs released the first ever iPhone, he changed the way the world used smartphones. While the average audience was quite taken in by this cool new toy, there were more skeptical people than those who were in favour. How can a  company which didn’t have any experience in dealing with the production of phones, make waves with something like an iPhone? However, the success of the phone was greater than what people would have expected and overnight, the future of Apple and Jobs changed forever.

Before Jobs made Apple the massive success it is today, he had more than his fair share of failures. Dropping out of college and with no formal education, he led quite an exciting life. Despite all the rejections he faced in various phases of his life, Jobs never stopped working on making his dream come true.

From hiring John Sculley as the CEO of Apple (a move which brought the Company down,) to launching various failed products and to not knowing where to market the Next Computer, Jobs led an interesting journey to the top. Today, Apple has a valuation of more than a trillion dollars and with one impressive innovation after another, everything produced by Apple is one of a kind. Ironically, the fact that he was ousted from Apple didn’t stop Jobs from growing. He took this so hard, he considered this as one of the major failures in his life. However, despite all the things which went wrong, Jobs always said he was who he was because of the failures.

3. Walt Disney

Picture credits: lifecredits.com

When Walt Disney started his journey as a caricature artist, a lot of people told him he just didn’t have it in him to make a mark in the world. However, he stuck through with his creations and started weaving stories with the creations he made. While Mickey Mouse was the first ever caricature he designed that became famous, his other creations became just as famous in the coming years.

Despite being fired by only a junior editor from his first job, Disney worked on his skills so much, he slowly but surely started making a mark. Did you know that when Walt Disney first created Mickey Mouse as a character, he wanted to name it Mortimer Mouse? Mickey Mouse was also drawn as an aftermath of a deal gone wrong. One of the first animated series Disney was working on, called Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, fell through as a result of a disagreement between Universal Studios and Disney.)

The only way Disney knew to deal with the situation was by drawing out his pain! However, had it not been for his wife’s timely intervention, the world would not have fallen in love with one of the most adorable characters of Disney’s history, Mickey Mouse! When Walt Disney died, his personal valuation stood at a whopping $ 35 million, making him one of the richest men in the world, without the shadow of a doubt.

4. Richard Branson

Picture credits: twitter.com

Richard Branson, a serial entrepreneur and now the 5th richest man in the world, also had his fair share of troubles. Branson had the business selling streak from a very young age. At the age of 16, he started his own magazine called Student. While the magazine did really well, it also set the stone for his record label, Virgin Records. However, despite the record label taking off in the first few years, trouble started brewing. Without giving up, Branson kept thinking of how to make the most of what he had.

It was only when a flight of his got cancelled on the way to Virgin Island, that inspiration struck Branson. From selling tickets worth $ 29, to redefining the way people flew, a cancelled flight was quite literally Branson’s ticket to freedom. With people not liking the clothes offered by his clothing brand and a record label which failed to succeed, Branson refused to give up. Everything Branson did over the years was to ensure that nothing he did was without enthusiasm. So much so that he wanted the entire world to experience what he felt when he lost his virginity!

Failure is a part and parcel of life. There is nothing that is truly stopping you from achieving your dreams. Stop thinking about what was done and lost and start thinking about how to make a difference in your life. If you think we missed out on any other stories like these, comment and let us know!

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Why Is Risk Taking A Stepping Stone To Success

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Risk taking and entrepreneurship almost go hand in hand. Everytime you start and stop yourself from achieving the impossible, think of what your idols did and look at how they overcame their roadblocks. From Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg and to Jeff Bezos, everyone has had their share of troubles and disparities. However, it was only because they decided to take risks and move out of their comfort zone that they could become the successes they are today. If you still aren’t convinced, here’s why you should definitely take risks to do better!

1. Hidden opportunities come to light

Often times, taking risks is looked at as a negative thing. While the risks you take may not really pan out the way you want them to, the end result is always a good one. Take, for example, the story of Oprah Winfrey. If she hadn’t decided to make a move and jump out of the life she was used to, there was no way she could have become one of the most successful women entrepreneurs in the world today! Every opportunity she saw, she took. Everything happening in life was a lesson worth learning and this was one of the primary ways that Oprah jumped

2. Taking risks has a certain order

While taking risks may seem like an ad hoc and a spur of the moment decision, it really isn’t. There is a certain order to the madness and if you plan everything perfectly, then taking the risk is worth all the effort. Do your homework, understand the situations and get your bearings in order. Only after you have all your i’s dotted and t’s crossed, can you see what the end result of taking risks looks like!

3. There is nothing scarier than doing nothing

From Steve Jobs to Travis Kalanick and to Mark Zuckerberg, every successful businessman has taught one important thing. Doing nothing doesn’t push you forward but keeps you rooted in the same place, with no growth happening. Putting yourself in situations you did not expect not only helps you deal with the future, but will also help you overcome your fears in a way you thought wasn’t possible. For years, society has been telling women they cannot do anything, that their position is only in the kitchen. If an entire gender hadn’t rebelled and said no, they had to do things their way, change wouldn’t have happened. Defy the norms. Show people you can do what you want and make sure you always stand out. No matter what.

4. Risks help you get over your fears

One of the most common roadblocks to you achieving your success is fear. The more vulnerable and  fearful you are, the more you realise you can’t achieve you want. “Success in life comes from taking risks,” Push yourself to move away from the fear and reach a point where taking risks seem not only fun, but worth it in the long run!

5. Embrace your failures

Like Arianna Huffington said, “failure is not the opposite of success but a stepping stone to success.” Learn to live with your failures and accept that whatever happens, happens for the right reasons. Deal with all the lemons life throws at you and always know that you can turn them into a really delicious lemonade! Just like all the extremely successful entrepreneurs who have quite literally slammed the door on failure.

Often times in life, you tend to stop yourself from achieving the goals because you are terrified of going the extra mile. When you think of how the grass is greener for the other person, take a moment to think about how they got to that point. If you think we missed out on any other reasons as to why taking risks is important, comment and let us know!

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Liliane Bettencourt And What To Learn From The Woman Behind L’Oréal

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Liliane Bettencourt, the heiress to L’Oréal, was, when she died, the richest woman in the world and the 14th richest person in the rest of the world. While fashion and cosmetics were the center of Liliane’s world, there was a lot more to her than just looking chic and pretty. Everything about Liliane’s life has been under public scrutiny and everything she did, helped her push L’Oréal to an unforeseen and unprecedented level. While the rest of the world remembers for her very public and ugly feud with her daughter, we would like to remember her for the way she built the Company up!

1. Her dedication to business

Picture credits: theguardian.com

From companies like Sun Pharma, to Foxconn and to L’Oréal, all major family run businesses have one thing in common: dedication to the business. With Liliane Bettencourt, the addiction and the conviction to the business was so strong, it was almost infectious. In fact, she said exactly that in a statement shortly before her death, “My life is L’Oréal. I have always been involved in the development of the company, and I will protect it to the end.” At another time, during the early days of Liliane’s role as a CEO Of L’Oréal, someone suggested using Isabella Rossellini as the brand ambassador. The moment Liliane heard the news, her response was. “But, ambassador of L’Oréal, it’s me!” Sticking true to her dedication to the Company, Liliane always thought of her business first, then anything else.

2. Family and stability always go hand in hand

Picture credits; livemint.com

Despite having a very public war with her daughter, over property and money, among other disagreements, Liliane always believed that family comes first. Further, one of her other concerns came from the fact, she wanted the control of the business within the family. In fact, when Nestlé bought a majority stake from L’Oreal, Liliane ensured that at least 30 % of the shares were within the Company and not sold. This helped make sure, no matter what, as long as Liliane was alive, one third of the control was going to be in the family! If family and stability was not the center of Liliane’s growth strategy, then L’Oreal wouldn’t be what it is even after her death!

3. Keep expanding and growing

Picture credits: lovealusa.com

When L’Oréal started, it was a small cosmetics chain where most of the products were sold domestically. With every product sold and every sale made, the profits L’Oréal earned through the years, propelled it to the top! Growing from having almost nothing, to earning 26 billion as revenue in 2016, L’Oréal grew exponentially. Further, the shares which Bettencourt sold back to Nestlé before she died, increased the value of L’Oréal by at least a 100 times, making the Company one of the richest ones in the world!

Liliane Bettencourt led an eventful life. With a journey full of ups and downs, she made sure, no matter what she did, her business was always her focal point. A journey rooted deep in family and values, Liliane Bettencourt’s life stopped short at the ripe old of 94. A woman who fought tooth and nail to make a mark, she most certainly has left a strong legacy behind.

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