Entrepreneurship traits of Bill Gates and Richard Branson

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Management ・APA ・6 Sources

A couple of the most well-known and physically recognizable businesspeople in the Western World are Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson. The two are regarded as self-made men because they never attended college but ultimately rose to the position of world's richest people. They did not acquire their compelling strategies for exceptional leadership and disruptive innovation by going to lectures or reading books; rather, they lived through the kind of self-motivation that is characteristic of a great entrepreneur. Both Bill Gates and Richard Branson are best characterized by qualities like self-motivation and tenacious determination. Gates and Branson never allowed any form of failure in life to bar them from attaining their goals. Their next venture after dropping out of school was in business enterprises. Both Gates and Branson are risk takers. They are ready to fail out of trial but optimistic that at the end of it all they are going to success.  Gates posits that success is an intelligent teacher that lures smart people to have a feeling that they cannot lose (Cheng & Liu, 2011). He further says that we should not judge our tomorrow’s success with the failure that we experience today (Cheng & Liu, 2011). Such sentiments support that the two are risk takers. Gates ad Branson at one point argued that risk taking and entrepreneurship are synonymous.  

An overriding trait mentioned in almost all the readings that Gates seems to lack is the will to try out new ideas. In other words the readings suggest that a good entrepreneur should be one who is ready to try new ideas and means of doing things, even those which are not familiar to him. Unlike Branson, Gates is glued to the old ways of doing things and does not make any attempt to change unless something unusual happens outside, for example the surfacing of Internet web browser.  Gates is not actually ready to switch from one kind of software to the other. The only thing with is evident is adaptation, otherwise there is nothing radically new. Branson, on the other hand is more apt to try unfamiliar things for his company.  If we rely on the idea that entrepreneurship is strongly grounded on creative destruction rather than adaptation, then we may be attempted to question whether Gates still qualifies to be a developmental entrepreneur after his initial software design because he is essentially making no new combinations. 

Question Two: Classification of Entrepreneurial Traits of Richard Branson and Bill Gates According to McMillan (2011) 

According to classification of entrepreneurs by McMillan (2011), Gates can be classified as innovative high-tech and opportunity entrepreneur. Similarly, Richard can fit the same classification delineated by McMillan (2011), only that he can also be said to be digital marketing and franchise entrepreneur. Gates qualifies to be classified as opportunity entrepreneur because he saw trend in the advancing information technology, pointed an existing opportunity and came up with Microsoft (Crow, 2008). Still, Gates fit the enterprenuaral classification of McMillan (2011) as a high- tech entrepreneur because he created Software Company, and not improving eve on the existing ideas. We could still follow the same line of thought while classifying Branson as an opportunity and a high-tech entrepreneur as described by McMillan (2011). Additionally, Branson is also classified as a network marketing and franchise entrepreneur because he opened up close to four hundred groups of companies until he could not manage (McMillan, 2011). He hired people to manage the companies on his behalf. This is the only means by which one can qualifies to be classified as a network marketing franchise entrepreneur. McMillan (2011), describes it as a pyramid way doing business, where an entrepreneur opens up a business, enlarge its branches,   employ other people who later on take the management role but under him. 

McMillan (2011) could also classify Gates as a solo service entrepreneur. Such classification delineates a sole proprietorship. At the onset of the business, Gates started with the friends to help him run his company.  On the other hand, McMillan (2011) could also classify Branson as a commodity entrepreneur because he highly invested on a business opportunity which was already saturated. Branson continues to come up with varies ranges of merchandise firms producing the same product which already exist in the market.   Virgin Group Companies has its integral values grounded on healthcare, transport, food, drinks among others which are also produced by other companies. 

In another angle, Branson may also be classified as a high-tech entrepreneur just like Gates. Away from improving the existing services and products in the market, he included new chain of companies producing the same products as the existing ones. 

Question 3: key similarities and differences are in the entrepreneurial styles and characteristics of Richard Branson and Bill Gates

 Branson is a democratic leader; he enjoys a good relationship with his employees and subordinates. Specter, (2007) records a statement by Branson where he ones said that he makes sure that he under comfort environment of a team of builders who ensure that the satisfaction and plights of an individual employee is not compromised in the pursuit of grand vision.  Contrastively, Gates would prefer a chain of command from the top position running down to the junior employees. 

It is interesting to note the way in which these two celebrated entrepreneurs are holding distinctive view in social entrepreneurship. Gates, on one hand, advocates for Creative Capitalism which supports the justification by Adam Smith that the wealthy should help the poor. Gates strives to make Microsoft technology available even for the poor especially in Africa. Branson, on the other hand, advocates for Gaia Capitalism which is a more dynamic entrepreneurial strategy.       

Additionally, Branson’s behavioral trait was for the view of supportive and participative behaviors, whilst Gate’s behavioral trait was more directives in nature. Gates gave direction to his followers and he expected that they follow the instruction, while Branson enjoined his followers in important decision making about the company. 

Both Gates and Branson have immensely contributed in building big companies which result to their outstanding wealth. But it is Branson who has always tried to break the monotonous ways of doing things by trying different ways. Gates seem to be wed in old ways of doing thing then he defends them against new alternatives. 


The path taken by Bill Gates and Richard Branson is a clear proof that anybody with a determination and a will to go can make it. It is possible to harness certain qualities, and certainly prospective entrepreneurs’ needs to be directed on the successful paths that they can take at any period in their lifetime. People can learn from Gate and Branson that you do not need to be a type A personality for you to make it in life. 


Crow, D. (2008). The real legacy of Bill Gates. Spectator Business, 44-45.

Cheng, Y., & Liu, Y. (2011). Bill Gates envisions nuclear future for China. McClatchy - Tribune Business News.

McMillan, A. (2011). Chapter 2: What type of entrepreneur are you? Be a Brilliant Entrepreneur: Flash. London: Hodder Education. [eBook Business Collection

Specter, M. (2007). Branson’s luck; profiles. The New Yorker, 83, 114-125.

Virgin galactic was a total punt, says Richard Branson. (2013). Telegraph.Co.Uk.

Wilson, L. (2011). Section 1: Starting your own business. The Small Business Planner: The Complete Entrepreneurial Guide to Starting and Operating a Successful Small Business. New York City, N.Y.: Morgan James Publishing. [eBook Business Collection]

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