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Surrey hosts Virgin boss

Richard Branson talked about business leadership at the 2012 Surrey Regional Economic Summit this afternoon. -
Richard Branson talked about business leadership at the 2012 Surrey Regional Economic Summit this afternoon.
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One of the world's best-known entrepreneurs had three sage words of advice for young people in Surrey considering getting into business.

"Just do it."

You may fall down, perhaps even more than once, said Virgin Group's Richard Branson, adding you then just dust yourself off and keep going.

Branson was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Surrey Regional Economic Summit Thursday at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel.

Branson is the founder of Virgin Group of companies, which include eight separate firms worth more than $1 billion dollars.

When asked if he had any advice for the one-third of Surrey's population that's under age 20, Branson said they should get past their fears and forge ahead.

"If they have a good idea, just get on and try it," Branson told the packed crowd of about 1,000.

"It's these small new businesses that are going to create jobs," Branson said. "If you're afraid of failure, you're not going to try," he said.

The author of a book called "Screw it, just do it," Branson said people tend to hesitate too often.

"I think people analyze too much," Branson said. "In the end, you should just try it. Sometimes, you'll fall on your face, sometimes it will work."

Branson expanded into the airline business several years ago when he was heading from Puerto Rico to the British Virgin Islands to meet his girlfriend (now his wife).

He got bumped back to a later flight.

Instead of waiting, he rented a private jet, wrote on a chalk board "British Virgin Islands: $29," and waited.

"And I filled up my first plane," Branson said. When he arrived at his destination, someone said if he could "spruce up the service a bit" he might have his own airline.

When he arrived back home in England, he got on the phone and called Boeing, looking for a second-hand 747.

That was the birth of Virgin Air.

Branson is now expanding into space travel, under a firm he calls Virgin Galactic.

For $200,000, he'll provide a return trip from space, and over time, he'll reduce that cost, bringing more people on board.

He's developing his second rocket this year.

Eventually, he said he'll be able to run point-to-point travel, allowing people to travel from Vancouver to Australia in two hours.

The craft of running more than 300 companies involves the "art of delegation," Branson said. "I let them make mistakes. Find somebody better than yourself."

That allows the principle of the company to remain a visionary.

He also advised the crowd of business people never to underestimate the value of a brand.

"Your reputation is all you have in life."

@diakiw

 

 

 

 

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