[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 October, 2003, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Branson tops the poll
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, is the winner of our poll asking BBC News Online readers to name Britain's best entrepreneur.

Richard Branson
Richard Branson: Britain's most popular entrepreneur
Sir Richard was the winner by a wide margin, receiving 57% of nearly 15,000 votes cast.

In second place our readers voted for James Dyson, the inventor of the revolutionary vacuum cleaner, who was the choice of 17% of readers.

In third place was Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of budget airline EasyJet, with just under 10% of the vote.

Branson's path

Like many other entrepreneurs, Richard Branson started out by risking everything for a bright idea, leaving school at 16 to start a magazine and then his first music venture - Virgin Records.

The success of the Mike Oldfield record Tubular Bells and the Sex Pistols turned Virgin Music into big business.

Richard Branson went on to launch the transatlantic airline Virgin Atlantic and later budget airlines in Australia and Europe.

His latest plan is to launch a budget airline in America.

Among his many other ventures, some more successful than others, are mobile phones, trains, personal finance, and clothing.

He is now thought to be worth more than 1bn, although his fortune has fluctuated over the years.

Personally adventurous as well, he has attempted to set records in high-altitude balloon flights and ocean-going speedboats.

And his most high-profile charity work was his nearly-successful bid to turn the National Lottery into a not-for-profit venture.

As part of BBC News Online's series on small business, we asked readers to nominate and then vote on their favourite entrepreneurs. Here are some of the comments you made about Sir Richard Branson and other prominent British entrepreneurs.

A selection of your comments

James Dyson - inventor of ball barrow, Dyson vacuum and more efficient washing machines. Nuff said.
Simon Hickey, UK

That Dyson guy who invented the bagless vacuum and two drum washing machine
Nicki, England
Alan Sugar's my choice, because of his Amstrad success, first with hi-fi equipment. Then he introduced a word processor and later took on IBM and was amongst the first - or probably the first - to bring out a an IBM-compatible PC and for many years was the No. 1 rival to IBM.
Charles Waddams, New Zealand

Richard Branson - definitely Britain's best entrepreneur. If he can be successful in the Australian flight industry (and he certainly is), then he must be a genius with will-power. Many before him have tried and failed due to protectionism in the market.
George Cook, Australia

Richard Branson has done a fantastic job building the Virgin empire, but James Dyson gets my vote. He took the huge risk of going it alone to build his product, and shook up the whole industry. For as long as I can remember, every brand of vacuum cleaner has always been called a "Hoover", but a Dyson is always a "Dyson".
Mike Clarke, UK

That Dyson guy who invented the bagless vacuum and two drum washing machine.
Nicki, England

Richard Branson has to be the best entrepreneur surely. He has his fingers in so many pies and seems to turn everything he touches into gold, his trains being a notable exception! Midas Branson.
Chris Finn, England

Sir Clive Sinclair, who was responsible for bringing computing to the home. Look at where we are now.
Michael Tott, UK

I nominate Ug the hairy fellow who discovered that wheel thing
Solomon Rehnquist, USA
I vote for Sir Richard Branson, as he has been running a successful and innovative brand now for longer than any of the others. He is a master of generating positive publicity, that enhances his own image as well as that of Virgin Group.
Stephen Forster, UK

Sir Robin Saxby has built ARM up into the UK's only technology company of any real standing globally.
David Thomson, Scotland

Clive Sinclair. Look at the list: ZX80, ZX81, self-assembly LED watch, pocket TV, oh and the C5 (well 4 out of 5 isn't bad).
John Brooks, USA (UK ex-pat)

I nominate Ug the hairy fellow who discovered that wheel thing. Failing that, the Persians & Indians did a lot to advance mathematics. Remember what even Isaac Newton, not noted for his humility, once said: "I am here because I stood on the shoulders of giants".
Solomon Rehnquist, USA

Although I very much admire Anita Roddick, Richard Branson and Stelios Haji-Ioannou for how they have all revolutionised their respective industries, my vote has to go to James Dyson for his true inventiveness and amazing tenacity.
Vicky, UK

Richard Branson has got to be this country's business guru, but Stelios Haji-Ioannou is a marketing marvel at work. Who else would wear placards and hand out leaflets during a film at someone else's cinema?
Ben Sheard, UK

Running a business




Select a past profile:


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific