Richard Branson reveals his blueprint for making your business a success

'I launched Virgin with £200'

"I started with a necklace that my mum had found - she had handed it into the police station, two months later nobody claimed it and so she sold it for £200. She gave the money to me and I used it to sell advertising to get my magazine going.

It just goes to show that very, very small amounts of money can result in companies, like Virgin, being created. Some of these things break through and tens of thousands of jobs get created."

'I messed up one of my early business pitches'

"I remember pitching my magazine to IPC newspapers as a teenager.  I started telling them I wanted to expand into hotels, airlines this and that. After a while they just showed me the door. I did get a letter from Patricia Lambert who was head of IPC about ten years ago simply saying, errrr, we were wrong."

'More mentors is what the UK needs right now'

"Switching the clock back many years when I started there were no mentors around and no one to get help from.  You were literally thrown in the deep end and if you were very lucky you learnt to swim.

I think it's up to all of us to find mentors to help these new start-ups. Not paid mentors - there are thousands of people who could give up a weekend to help new entrepreneurs. So I'd say helping mentoring schemes is the most important thing right now."

'Travel is the best way to come up with a new business'

"If you can reinvent the wheel, so much the better, but if not see what works overseas. It is those people that get out, travel and monitor what has been successful elsewhere and then borrowing the ideas makes a lot of sense."

'It doesn't matter what age you are - anyone can start a business'

"It's important to encourage anybody who has a good idea that can make a difference to other people's lives to give it a go. It doesn't matter whether they are young or old.  I feel young people could be encouraged more though in school or college."

'Getting your product right is more important than marketing'

"If I had a small budget I would spend it making sure we have the best product in the field. Then use myself to get the free marketing rather than spending on advertising. When I began, Freddie Laker said to me, 'get out there and make an arse of yourself, get on the front pages of the papers and not the back."

'I would like to see someone start a business in sugar'

"Apart from cigarettes, sugar is the biggest killer there is.  So if you can make products that are sugar free and taste decent then great!"

'My favourite start-up business in the world right now is'

"There's a company run by a British guy in New Zealand called Lanzatech. He's come up with a unique way of taking the waste product from steel and aluminium plants and turning it into aviation fuel. It could mean the airline industry could go from one of the dirtiest industries to one of the cleanest."

Sir Richard Branson was speaking at the Virgin Media #Pitch2Rich competition.

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