Sir Richard Branson and Lord Alan Sugar are two of the UK’s most recognisable businesspeople. They’re also two of the UK’s most influential businesspeople, but they both took very different routes to get where they are today.
Richard Branson is best known for the creation of the Virgin Group, which rose from humble beginnings to a global network of more than 400 companies today. Branson started his first business at age 16, selling a magazine to his classmates at school.
Four years later the Virgin brand was born as a retailer selling records by post. Nearly half a century later the Virgin empire is still going strong and has left Branson with a fortune of £4.1bn.
Meanwhile, Lord Sugar started his business career selling electrical goods from the back of a van. He then set up Amstrad (Alan Michael Sugar Trading), which became a market leader in consumer electronics by the 1980s. At its peak, Amstrad was worth £1.25bn although, after a series of failures it was eventually sold in 2007 for £125m to BSkyB. Today, Lord Sugar’s wealth, all £1.4bn of it, is tied up in London property.
However, while Lord Sugar and Richard Branson took different routes to get where they are today, there’s one common factor that they’ve both cited as the root of their success over the years.
The common factor
Lord Sugar and Richard Branson have both got to where they are today by being impatient. Both of the entrepreneurs are well known for their drive to get stuck into a new business project without spending months weighing up the pros and cons.
In Amstrad’s early days, the company succeeded by Lord Sugar’s ability to get products on the shelves faster than rivals. While Richard Branson’s “Screw It, Let’s Do It” philosophy has pushed the Virgin group into hundreds of different markets around the world.
Of course, both Branson and Sugar have had their fair share of business failures along the way. Amstrad’s failure was brought about by the company’s overexpansion, and there are countless Virgin branded ventures that have failed to yield a return for Branson.
Nevertheless, impatience has helped the two business magnates overcome their failures. Their desire to diversify and expand into new markets has ensured that the loss of a single business venture won’t wipe them out.
Driven to succeed
A lack of patience is the most prominent, common factor between Richard Branson and Lord Sugar’s success, but the two businesspeople are also linked by their drive to succeed and perseverance.
Richard Branson’s drive to succeed has helped him create one of the world’s most successful brands, and his determination has helped him push through failures. Meanwhile, Lord Sugar’s drive to succeed has seen him turn the relative failure of Amstrad into a hugely successful property empire.