By Rachel Lerman
The Seattle Times
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Great Q&A with Richard Branson on why it’s a great time to be an entrepreneur.
The Seattle Times
Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and one of the most-recognized entrepreneurs in the world, has been in the business of starting businesses for 50 years.
Virgin Group encompasses ventures from a varied group of industries — records, airlines, even space travel.
Business is all about making a difference in people’s lives, Branson told a crowd of a couple hundred people Tuesday at a panel event in downtown Seattle, part of the entrepreneur’s “Business Is an Adventure” series. The event was held a day after Branson arrived in Seattle to celebrate the launch of a new Virgin Atlantic route between Seattle and London.
The business magnate sat down with The Seattle Times on Monday after his Virgin Atlantic flight from London. (This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.)
Q: If you were to start out today and build your brand would you have done anything differently? Do you think it’s different today?
A: I think young entrepreneurs today have an advantage that I didn’t have 50 years ago. The word “entrepreneur” is now known, whereas 50 years ago, there were hardly any entrepreneurs around. There’s money they can tap into and entrepreneurism is not a dirty word. It sounds bizarre, but if someone 50 years ago wanted to become an entrepreneur, their parents would be upset they weren’t becoming a doctor, or a lawyer or an accountant. Whereas today, I think most parents would be quite pleased and proud of their kids that they wanted to create businesses that make a difference in people’s lives.
In some ways it’s easier today, in some ways it’s more difficult because a lot of the great ideas have already been done. So it means the challenge is that much more difficult. When I started, the airline business was absolutely dreadful, so it was easy for us to come in and shake it up. When we started the train business, trains were absolutely dreadful and we came in and made it a lot better.