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Richard Branson made his fortune by using the profits from his record store chain to found Virgin Records in 1972. He earned his first million dollars in 1973 when Virgin recording artist Mike Oldfield sold over five million copies of his record, "Tubular Bells." In the following years, Branson added to his fortune with other ventures. He founded Virgin Atlantic Airlines in 1984, Virgin Mobile in 1999 and Virgin Blue (now Virgin Australia) the following year.

In 1992, the entrepreneur sold Virgin Records for £500 million in order to sustain Virgin Atlantic Airways. The sale of this and other companies helped contribute to the market maker's fortune. Among the companies he sold are Virgin Media, Virgin Radio and the gay nightclub Heaven, of which he was part-owner.

As of 2015, Branson's net worth is an estimated $4.9 billion, making him the seventh richest U.K. citizen. The tycoon is the founder and chairman of the Virgin Group, which employs over 50,000 people in 50 countries and is comprised of over 400 companies. These companies include wine stores, health clubs, financial services businesses, a Formula One team, radio stations and a space tourism company called Virgin Galactic. The combined annual revenues of Virgin Group companies total $24 billion.

Branson never allowed inexperience to discourage him from being a dynamic and daring entrepreneur. In fact, he named his company Virgin because he and his employees were all new to business. Part of his early success at Virgin Records came as a result of his willingness to sign the Sex Pistols and other controversial artists no other label wanted to sign. This, along with the extraordinary growth and expansion of the Virgin Group, reflects Branson's philosophy that one must act before he is ready in order to achieve success.

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