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.
The magazine — and the lessons it taught Branson — helped kickstart Branson's business empire. A few years later, Branson would found a mail-order record business which would later become Virgin Records. Branson eventually expanded the Virgin brand to encompass airlines, a music label and even space travel.
"That £100 ended up paving the way for Virgin Galactic, Atlantic and all the other Virgin companies around the world today," writes Branson.
Branson reminds new business owners that the digital era has made it cheaper than ever for anyone to become an entrepreneur. He says technology has "dramatically" brought down the cost of selling products and services online and much can be done right from the comfort of your own home.
"Rather than commit to pricey premises you can set up online with no technical expertise using a website builder, and start selling from your kitchen table," says the billionaire.
Even funding is easier, he writes. "Raising finance to start a business from a bank has gained a reputation for being difficult, but today you can bypass this altogether with schemes that are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs launch, such as crowdfunding or Start Up Loans."
"We didn't need lots of money to start our first business and that's even truer today than it was back then."
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