Richard Branson: How to start a global business

How do you get a brilliant idea for a global business off the ground? Start local, according to advice from Richard Branson.

"Launching your brand overseas will be hugely expensive, and finding distributors and retailers that are willing to take on an unknown brand will be extremely difficult," the Virgin Founder says in a recent Daily Monitor blog. "If you can create a strong local brand … you will have a better chance of attracting partners or investors who want to back your expansion."

But how do you create that strong local brand in the first place? "Think about your product and try to pinpoint what makes it different," the Virgin Group founder advises. "Is it 100% natural? Locally sourced? Is it a homemade family recipe?

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"Also consider the wider purpose behind your product, and consider how it can make a positive difference in the world."

One company that successfully managed build a strong brand before launching globally was Innocent Drinks. The founders of the smoothie company all had other jobs when they used their own money to set up a stand at a music festival selling their smoothies and juices.

They had two bins at their stand, one marked "Yes" and another marked "No" and they asked customers to taste the drinks and decide whether the three of them should give up their jobs and run the business full-time. They received a resounding yes from their customers. And a few years later Innocent Drinks was bought by Coca-Cola.

Think about your product and try to pinpoint what makes it different.

So how can you replicate Innocent Drinks’ success? It’s a good idea to get clued up on everything involved in starting a business – try and find a mentor who could help you with this.

"You might also benefit from looking at free online courses or tools," Branson says. "There is a lot of material on the internet these days aimed at helping first-time entrepreneurs with things like planning, marketing and public relations."

To find out more about the tools available to you when trying to develop a business idea, as well as advice from others who have been there and done it, check out our recent series: In focus: How to turn an idea into reality.


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