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Richard Branson: It Doesn't Cost Much to Start a Great Business

Short on cash? That's still no reason to hang up your entrepreneurial dreams, says the Virgin Group founder.

Think you need buckets of cash to launch a business? 

Think again, says serial entrepreneur and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. “A business can be started with very little money."

The entrepreneurial bug first bit Branson in the mid 1960s, when he tried to grow and sell Christmas trees and budgerigars, a type of parakeet. Both endeavors tanked, leaving him with no money to launch the magazine for teens he so desperately wanted to publish. 

Branson had wanted to give young people a way to speak out against the Vietnam War, but with no funds, he wasn't sure where to start. 

As luck would have it, Branson's mother stumbled upon an expensive necklace one day, which she turned over to the police. When no one claimed the necklace, she decided to retrieve and sell it and gave her son a small cut of the profits. Branson put the measly funds toward advertising and Student magazine was born in 1968. 

The publisher followed Student with a business selling mail-order records in the early 1970s, which evolved into Virgin records. Virgin Atlantic Airways took flight in 1984, and Branson has been dabbling in business ever since. 

“I think because I have great difficulty saying the word ‘no,’ almost every day’s a different adventure,” he's said

Perhaps not needing money helped too. 

Last updated: May 28, 2013


Julie Strickland covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurial endeavors of all kinds for Inc. Her work has been published in Brooklyn Based and City Limits in New York, the Free Times in Columbia, SC, Real Travel Magazine in London, and Daegu Pockets in South Korea. She lives in New York City.

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