Richard Branson funded his first business at 16 for less than $2,000.
If you think you need big bucks to get your business started, think again. A lack of funds didn’t stop a teenage Richard Branson from his first venture — and he says it shouldn’t deter you either.
The Virgin Group founder receives pitches from entrepreneurs on a daily basis, he writes in a recent blog post. Most share a common line: “I need x amount of money to get started.”
This sort of thinking is a mistake, says Branson. “There’s no doubt it can be easier to achieve lofty ambitions if you already have financial backing,” he writes, “but in many cases you don’t need lots of money to start a business.”
He uses himself as an example. Branson, dyslexic, dropped out of school as a teenager. He has said he was considered, “the dumbest person at school.”
At this time, Branson hatched Student Magazine, his first business. Branson saw the youth magazines of the day as boring, saying that his ideas were “too ‘revolutionary’ to be aired in the school magazine.” His interschool publication, launched in 1966, was an alternative with attitude. It covered Branson’s passions, such as music and the Vietnam war.
His business plan was simple — just a list of names, potential advertisers and costs that he jotted down in a school notebook. The magazine was run out his co-founder’s parents’ dingy basement. “I was just 16 years old when I founded the magazine, and had no money to put toward it,” writes Branson.
As fate would have it, Branson’s mother found a necklace on the ground near their home and gave it to the police. After months without anyone stepping forward to claim the jewelry, the police returned the necklace to her. His mother sold the necklace for £100 and offered it to her son. (£100, by some calculations, has the purchasing power of around £1,500 in today’s money or just more than $1,900 USD).
The two business partners used the money to pay off their magazine’s electricity and postage bills. “Without it, the business would have collapsed,” Branson writes.