Some people fear failure. However, there are also those who believe that failure is something you learn from. Failure is something that makes us stronger – that teaches us what we have to do to be successful.

Richard Branson is one of a kind: he did not have one big failure, he had several of them. Each of those wrong turns and miscalculations nearly cost him his fortune (and sometimes his life) – but he always found a way to recover from those mistakes.

His First Failure

At age 16, Branson decided that he wanted to drop out of school and to make it big with his own business: the Student magazine. His wish was for the magazine to turn into a big voice, speaking the truths of his generations. He did get quite a few big-name interviews – but the money wasn’t exactly flowing. This did not bide well for him.
Had he continued with the original plan, he might have gone under. However, he saw that it was not a good plan – so, he decided to be flexible. He changed his focus into music, and his magazine turned into a record business. Now, he has a billion-dollar records company called Virgin Records.

The Crash of Virgin Atlantic Airlines

In 1984, Branson launched his own airline –Virgin Atlantic Airlines. His goal was to give people a superior flying experience – but while the opportunity was big, he had very little experience in this. As a result, his business nearly crashed before it even had the chance to get started.

For the first flight test of his company, Branson rented a Boeing 747 – but as bad luck had it, a flock of birds flew straight into the engine – therefore, causing extensive damage to the plane. Without a working plane, the company obviously could not be certified – but instead of panicking, he restructured the companies that he had. He eventually raised enough money to repair the plane and get his airline started.

The Virgin Cola Experience

Somewhere in 1997, Richard Branson made a bold move: he decided to take on Coca Cola – one of the most popular brands on the planet. And he decided to do so using his own brand: Virgin Coke.

At first, the early taste tastings seemed to be quite promising – and Branson actually believed that his soft drink would surpass the original brand in its success. However, upon its launch, it became pretty clear that this would not happen. The company folded in only a couple of years, which taught Branson that strong branding and identity are the keys to success.

A Story of Determination

Aside from those major businesses, Branson had multiple other ideas that failed. He played with trains and cars. He wanted to travel over the Atlantic in a balloon. He tried to make it into the fashion world. Some of those companies worked, others had the same fate as Virgin Coke. However, it taught Branson that as long as he kept his cool, learned from his mistakes, and was flexible in his decisions, he could still reach success.