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Richard Branson put together his first business plan at 15 years old and it’s surprisingly solid\


The multi-billionaire iconic entrepreneur Richard Branson, now 67 years old, began his career more than 50 years ago. He started his first venture, a student magazine, at 15 years old, and he just revealed his original business plan.

He was “disgruntled with the archaic school practices of the day,” Branson writes in a blog post. His headmaster at the time suggested that Branson take his frustrations to the school magazine. But the young entrepreneur didn’t want to be bound by that publication’s rigid standards.

We wanted to campaign against corporal punishment, compulsory chapel, games and Latin,” Branson says.

All these ideas were far too ‘revolutionary’ to be aired in the school magazine, The Stoic, a name which seemed only too apt to its long-suffering readers. We then thought about linking up with other schools that had similar rules. Gradually the idea of an inter-school publication, Student magazine, was hatched.


The entrepreneur met with students from other schools, talked about ideas and recorded everything in a notebook. Branson is a huge proponent of writing down your ideas when they come to you so you don’t forget.

Then, Branson wrote down the names of 250 members of parliament he would like to be in touch with for the magazine, as well as a list of potential advertisers he found by flipping through the phone book. He contacted British retailer WHSmith to see if it would sell the finished product.

Thus, with contributors, advertisers, distributors and costs all in place — at least on paper — I had written my first business plan,” says Branson.

That was enough to get him going.

It’s amazing how your ideas can take flight, so long as your write them down and share them with others. And as you can see from my story, a business plan doesn’t have to be a lengthy, well-thought-out proposal — it can be as simple as some notes in a notebook, or a scribble on the back of an envelope.


Branson’s message is that you don’t need to wait to have a formal, perfected business plan to get started. That idea has been championed by other billionaire entrepreneurs, like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

If I had to understand everything about connecting people before I began, I never would have started Facebook,” Zuckerberg said in his commencement speech to Harvard graduates this spring.

Image Cortesy Virgin Active SA. - Richard Branson.

Image Cortesy Virgin Active SA. – Richard Branson.

Zuckerberg was a teen hacker and he carried that mentality into launching Facebook.

According to Hoffman, that is why Zuckerberg is so successful.

He has no qualms about rushing out an imperfect product. In fact, his famous mantra is ‘move fast and break things,‘” says Hoffman about Zuckerberg on his podcast, “Masters of Scale.” “If you are Steve Jobs, you can wait for your product to be perfect, but there are almost no Steve Jobs in the world.” [1]


Tips from Successful Business Owners

You have a great business concept. You’re passionate about your business idea. Now, what does it take to ensure your great idea becomes a successful, thriving business?

According to successful businesses, there are a number of key factors that can contribute to the success of a new business.

  • Great Business Concept. Successful business owners agree that a great business concept is a key factor in the success of a business.

    Do you have a unique product? Are you addressing a niche market need? Or do you simply have the ability to provide exceptional customer experience? Whatever your approach, you will need to stand out from your competitors. However, don’t forget to look at what your competitors are doing well, so that you can benchmark against those strengths.

  • Reliable Employees. Attracting bright, creative, committed talent and retaining them are important aspects of managing a successful business. Many successful businesses contribute their success in the start-up years to great employees and managers.

    One way to get and keep the best employees is to meet their needs outside as well as inside the workplace. As a business owner, you can demonstrate this commitment to your employees in a combination of ways, including providing financial, health, and career benefits or career development opportunities.

  • Loyal Customers. It is no surprise that customers are the forefront of your business’ success. Business owners cite attracting and retaining clients as a significant obstacle in the success of their business in the first years. What are your customers’ needs and is your company’s vision aligned with those needs? Look at your products and your delivery and distribution channels.

    Identify reasons why your customers choose your business over your competitors. Match your strengths and weaknesses with opportunities. Having an in-depth understanding of your customers and the marketplace in which you operate can help you meet the needs of your customers and establish a long term relationship with them.

  • Effective Cash Flow. Fluctuations in cash flow can be deterrent to the success of a business if you are not prepared for it. Cash flow is the fuel that keeps a business running smoothly and applying simple cash flow management strategies can result in better control over your business. Do you have a cash flow budget? Do you understand the sensitivities in your cash flow such as price, volume and seasonal variations? Have you discussed solutions with your financial advisor to manage these fluctuations, which can result from and predictable factors to unexpected expenses? These are just some of the questions you should consider in ensuring you have control over your businesses’ cash flow.

  • Successful Planning. Business owners recognize that a business needs a road map to point the way to success. Setting out  business plan is an important first step in setting your objectives and reaching them. Whether you are starting a new business or running an established one, a good business plan helps set you on the road to financial success. By mapping out your goals and strategies, you’ll get a clearer picture your business, competition, strengths and weaknesses and essentially, what your business really needs to succeed.

  • Accessible Capital. A great number of businesses believe that inadequate capital and financing were responsible for their companies’ problems in the start-up years. As with many facets of your business, your financial advisor can help. Your financial partner can offer you a wide range of convenient and flexible options to help your business succeed, whether it be an overdraft or line of credit to provides you with ongoing management of your cash flow or installment loans to finance purchases. [2]


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References Sources:

[1] Taken from Richard Branson put together his first business plan at 15 years old and it’s surprisingly solid written by Catherine Clifford for CNBC.

[2] Taken from Tips from successful business owners – CIBC.com written by CIBC.

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