Having set up his Virgin business empire in 1970, Richard Branson’s success in the travel, banking and entertainment sectors has seen him become a favourite when it comes to someone aspiring entrepreneurs look up to.
In a survey of 500 company owners by small business lender Everline, Branson was named by 40 per cent of respondents as their preferred business mentor.
In second place was younger, and American, business builder Mark Zuckerberg with 13 per cent of votes. This number rises to 25 per cent if only 18-34 year olds were asked.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is a favourite among the younger demographic
Russell Gould, managing director of Everline, says, ‘When it comes to aspirational business leaders, it’s hard to see anyone knocking Richard Branson off the top spot anytime soon.’
However, Gould is quick to point out what he describes as a worrying trend of a lack of people ‘in the pipeline’ that small business owners want as mentors.
‘We need government and business partners to do more to help small businesses get off the ground and ensure they get the support they need to keep growing,’ he adds.
‘We also need to ensure that successful businesses get their fair share of the limelight in order to encourage and inspire the next generation of small business owners.’
Everline also suggests that its poll reveals an alarming lack of female business role models. Despite being an author, Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling was found to be the most popular woman mentor – with 6 per cent of the vote.
J.K. Rowling has made a huge commercial success of her books
Television personality, music executive and X-Factor creator Simon Cowell also secured 6 per cent, with politicians such as David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg featuring further down the list with 5 per cent, 2 per cent and 1 per cent respectively.
See also: Richard Branson STILL the country’s most admired entrepreneur – The 64-year-old remains popular among the country’s youngest entrepreneurs.