Richard Branson says: “One of my favourite sayings is, “90% of life is just showing up,” because finding the courage to pursue your vision and start a new business often hinges on just that first step.
Once you’ve spotted an opportunity in a given sector, having the confidence to follow your dream and raise that first crucial bit of financing is often the hardest problem facing a budding entrepreneur. The following two questions reminded me of how I established some of my first businesses, and how I’d begin again if I had the chance.
Q: If you were 24 today, and you were given a budget of $3,000 (Rs138,300) to start a business, what kind of business would you choose? What if the budget were around $25,000?
Alex Bodislav, Bucharest, Romania
A: That’s an easy one. It would definitely be some kind of Web-based business, and I’m not sure it would make a difference if I had $3,000 or $25,000 to start out.
I began my career in the late 1960s with my first business venture, Student magazine. I started by selling it one issue at a time, and soon moved to selling records from a phone booth. The publishing and music industries are struggling today due to the changes brought about by the Internet—but where there’s upheaval, there’s opportunity.
Look at how Apple Inc. has revolutionized the music industry with iTunes, its online music store, and the iPod, its digital music player. Such is the genius of Apple’s designs and their hold on the consumer that the company has taken the mobile phone market by storm with its “you gotta get one of these” iPhones. Then it tackled the publishing world with the iPad.
A whole industry is growing up around designing applications—games, magazines and booking engines—for these Apple devices. Successful application designers and publishers are already making a fortune, the way publishing and music moguls did in the 1960s and 1970s.
I have always been fascinated by all forms of content—music, books, television and film. Virgin has invested in all of these industries, with mixed success. If I were reborn as a 24-year-old, I would look at this area for an “app-gap”—a gap in the market or an opportunity to shake up the leading players.
And today I would also think big: These days an entrepreneur faces few geographical boundaries to success. When I started Virgin, our projects were limited to the UK because of financial limitations and cultural differences. With the development of the Internet, the world shrunk rapidly, and is now a far more cosmopolitan and connected place…..”
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