Business Enviornment

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Introduction
Charismatic entrepreneur Richard Branson (born 1950) became well known when his daredevil business tactics were upstaged by his death defying antics as a sportsman.Founder and mastermind of the Virgin business enterprise, Richard Branson hewed a reputation as one of the most popular personalities in all of England. The charismatic Branson attracted crowds and media attention everywhere, not only in the course of his business exploits but also for his adventurous lifestyle. At the height of his popularity, Branson's name was touted for prime minister, and even monarch, of his native Britain. Tongue-and-cheek aside, Branson's financial escapades were serious business, and his adventurous personal nature projected an aura that seemed larger than life. Branson was born at Stonefield Nursing Home, a home for children with special needs, in Blackheath, London, the son of barrister Edward James Branson and Eve Branson.His grandfather, the Right Honourable Sir George Arthur Harwin Branson, was a judge of the High Court of Justice and a Privy Councillor.Branson was educated at Scaitcliffe School (now Bishopsgate School) until the age of thirteen. He then attended Stowe School until the age of sixteen. Branson has dyslexia and had poor academic performance as a student, but later discovered his ability to connect with others . Richard Branson was not adventurous by nature. Out of concern, his mother left him alone in the countryside one day, with instructions t o find his own way home through the fields of Devon. Branson was only four at the time, and a neighbouring farmer eventually discovered the boy and alerted the Branson s to retrieve their son. Young Richard, who spent that day chasing butterflies, was enamored by the exhilaration of freedom at such a young age. Years later, when his parents enrolled him at Stowe boarding school in Buckingham, he found the environment too restrictive. He dropped out of high school and moved to London, where he made his living as a publisher and later opened a retail record business.

Personal Life

Branson is the eldest of four siblings. He has two sisters, Lindi and Vanessa Branson. His brother, Ted, followed in their father's footsteps and became a barrister. Branson's poor academic records contrasted with excellent performance in sports, especially swimming. With Lady Joan Templeman he has two children, Holly and Sam. He revealed in an interview with Piers Morgan that he and wife Joan had a daughter named Clare Sarah who died when she was just four days old in 1979. The couple wed at their daughter Holly's suggestion when she was eight years old in 1989 at Necker Island, a 74-acre island in the British Virgin Islands that Branson owns.He also owns land on the Caribbean Islands of Antigua and Barbuda. Holly Branson is now a doctor. Branson is a supporter of Oxford United. In 1998, Branson released his autobiography, titled Losing My Virginity, an international bestseller. Branson was deeply saddened by the disappearance of fellow adventurer Steve Fossett in September 2007; and, the following month, he wrote an article for Time magazine, titled "My Friend, Steve Fossett".

A Young Entrepreneur

Branson arrived in London in 1967, at the age of 17,he undertook his first business venture. He published a magazine called Student, for young activists. The first issue was published in January 1968, and reached a printing of 100,000 copies at the peak of its popularity. Student was an excellent business vehicle, and resulted in a positive business experience for Branson. Branson started his second business in 1970, a mail -order retail record company called Virgin Mail. The unfortunate occurrence of a British postal strike in 1971 forced Branson to realign his fledgling record company from a mail-order supplier into a successful discount record retailer in London. Branson's initial ventures into capitalism were encouraging, but generated "red ink" at the onset. As Branson saw his business debt swell to approximately $20,000 he devised an illicit pseudo-export scam that allowed him to evade the tax payments on his merchandise. For a time he eluded the authorities but was eventually brought to justice and to jail. It cost him (and his mother) $45,000 in bail to secure his freedom. In time and with perseverance he worked his way out of accrued business debts of $90,000, including fines and back taxes owed to the government.

Record Business

Branson started business after he travelled across the English Channel and purchased crates of "cut-out" records from a record discounter. He sold the records out of the boot of his car to retail outlets in London. He continued selling cut-outs through a record mail order business in 1970. Trading under the name "Virgin", he sold records for considerably less than the "High Street" outlets, especially the chain W. H. Smith. The name "Virgin" was suggested by one of Branson's early employees because they were all new at business.At the time, many products were sold under restrictive marketing agreements that limited discounting, despite efforts in the 1950s and 1960s to limit so-called resale price maintenance. In effect, Branson began the series of changes that led to large -scale discounting of recorded music. Branson eventually started a record shop in Oxford Street in London and, shortly after, launched the record label Virgin Records with Nik Powell. Branson earned enough money from his record store to buy a country estate, in which he installed a recording studio. He leased out studio time to fledgling artists, including multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield. In 1992, to keep his airline company afloat, Branson sold the Virgin label to EMI for £500 million.Branson says that he wept when the sale was completed since the record business had been the birth of the Virgin Empire. He later formed V2 Records to re-enter the music business.

Virgin Empire

Virgin Group Limited is a British branded venture capital conglomerate organisation founded by Richard Branson.The core business areas are travel, entertainment and lifestyle. Virgin Group's date of incorporation is listed as 1989 by Companies House, who class it as a holding company; however Virgin's business and trading activities date to the 1970s. The net worth of Virgin Group Ltd as of September 2008 is £5.01 billion. It consists of more than 400 companies around the world. Virgin Group operates from its headquarters at The School House, 50 Brook Green in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Although Branson retains complete ownership and control of the Virgin Brand, the commercial set-up of companies using it is varied and complex. Each of the companies operating under the Virgin brand is a separate entity, with Branson completely owning some and holding minority or majority stakes in others. Occasionally, he simply licenses the brand to a company that has purchased a division from him, such as Virgin Mobile USA, Virgin Mobile Australia, Virgin Radio and Virgin Music (now part of EMI). The brand name "Virgin" arose when Branson and a partner were starting their first business, a record shop. They considered themselves virginsin business. The current Virgin logo was originally sketched on a paper napkin and remains largely unchanged since 1979. In February 2009, Branson's Virgin organisation were reported as bidding to buy the former Honda Formula One team. Branson later stated an interest in Formula One but claimed that, before the Virgin brand became involved with Honda or any other team, Formula One wo uld have to develop a more economically efficient and environmentally responsible image. At the start of the 2009 formula one season on 28 March, it was announced that Virgin would be sponsoring the new BrawnGP team, with discussions also under way about introducing a less "dirty" fuel in the medium term.After the end of the season and the subsequent purchase of Brawn GP by Mercedes, Branson invested in an 80% buyout of Manor Grand Prixwith the team being renamed to Virgin Racing. Branson and Tony Fernandes, owner of Air Asia and Lotus F1 Racing, had a bet for the 2010 F1 season where the team's boss should work on the winner's airline for a day dressed as a stewardess. Fernandes escaped as the winner of the bet, as Lotus Racing ended 10th in the championsh ip, while Virgin Racing ended 12th and last.

Humanitarian initiatives
In the late 1990s, Branson and musician Peter Gabriel discussed with Nelson Mandela their idea of a small, dedicated group of leaders, working objectively and without any vested personal interest to solve difficult global conflicts. On 18 July 2007, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nelson Mandela announced the formation of a new group, The Elders, in a speech he delivered on the occasion of his 89th birthday. The founding members of this group are Desmond Tutu, GraçaMachel, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Jimmy Carter, Li Zhaoxing, Mary Robinson, and Muhammad Yunus. The Elders is independently funded by a group of "Founders", including Branson and Gabriel. Desmond Tutu serves as the chair of The Elders who will use their collective skills to catalyse peaceful resolutions to long -standing conflicts, articulate new approaches to global issues that are causin g or may cause immense human suffering, and share wisdom by helping to connect voices all over the world. They will work together over the next several months to carefully consider which specific issues they will approach. Branson's other work in South Africa includes the Branson School of Entrepreneurship, set up in 2005 as a partnership between Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of Virgin, and entrepreneur TaddyBletcher, the founder of CIDA City Campus, a university in Johannesburg. The school aims to improve economic growth in South Africa by supporting start-ups and micro-enterprises with skills, mentors, services, networks and finance arrangements. Fundraising activity to support the school is notably achieved by the Sunday Times Fast Track 100, sponsored by Virgin Group, at its yearly event, where places to join Richard Branson on trips to South Africa to provide coaching and mentoring to students are auctioned to attendees. In 2009, Jason Luckhurst and Boyd Kershaw of Practicus, Martin Ainscough of the Ainscough Group and Matthew Riley of Daisy Communications helped raise £150,000 through the auction.

World record attempts

Richard Branson made several world record-breaking attempts after 1985, when in the spirit of the Blue Riband he attempted the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing. His first attempt in the "Virgin Atlantic Challenger" led to the boat capsizing in British waters and a rescue by RAF helicopter, which received wide media coverage. Some newspapers called for Brans on to reimburse the government for the rescue cost. In 1986, in his "Virgin Atlantic Challenger II", with sailing expert Daniel McCarthy, he beat the record by two hours. A year later his hot air balloon "Virgin Atlantic Flyer" crossed the Atlantic. This was the largest balloon at 2.3 million cubic feet (65,000 m³), and the first hot-air balloon crossing the Atlantic. In September 2008 Branson and his children made an unsuccessful attempt at an Eastbound record crossing of the Atlantic ocean under sail in t he 99 feet (30 m) sloop Virgin Money. The boat, also known as Speedboat, is owned by NYYC member Alex Jackson, who was a co-skipper on this passage, with Branson and Mike Sanderson. After 2 days, 4 hours, winds of force 7 to 9 (strong gale), and seas of 40 feet (12 m), a 'monster wave' destroyed the spinnaker, washed a ten-man life raft overboard and severely ripped the mainsail. She eventually continued to St. George's, Bermuda.In March 2010 Richard tried for the world record of putting a round of golf in the dark at the Black Light Mini Golf in The Docklands, Melbourne, Australia. He succeeded in getting 41 on the par 45 course.

Honours
In 1993, Branson was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Technology from Loughborough University. In the New Year s Honours list dated 30 December 1999, HM The Queen signified her intention to confer the honour of Knight bachelor on him for his "services to entrepreneurship".He was knighted by HRH The Prince of Wales on 30 March 2000 at an investiture in Buckingham Palace. Also, in 2000, Branson received the 'Tony Jannus Award' for his accomplishments in commercial air transportation. Branson is the patron of several charities, including the International Rescue Corps and Prisoners Abroad, a registered charity which supports Britons who are detained outside of the UK. Branson appears at No. 85 on the 2002 list of "100 Greatest Britons" (sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public). Sir Richard also ranks No. 86 on Channel 4's 2003 list of "100 Worst Britons". Sir Richard was also ranked in 2007's Time Magazine "Top 100 Most Influential People in the World". In 2009, Branson was voted the UK's "Celebrity Dream Boss" in an opinion poll by Cancer Research UK. On 7 December 2007, United Nations Secretary General Ban KiMoon presented Branson with the United Nations Correspondents Association Citizen of the World Award for his support for environmental and humanitarian causes.

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