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Why Mentors Are More Important Now Than Ever This is why a mentor should be one of your most important business relationships.

By Aytekin Tank Edited by Frances Dodds

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Thomas Barwick | Getty Images

When Richard Branson founded Virgin Atlantic in 1984, he'd already been a seasoned entrepreneur for several decades. He launched his first business, a magazine called Student, when he was just 16, accompanied by a wildly successful record mail-order business that soon became the first Virgin Records.

Branson didn't specifically set out to become an airline magnate. Rather, it was born of the frustration he felt while his British Virgin Islands-bound plane was stuck on the tarmac in Puerto Rico. Rather than suffer in silence, Branson worked out how much it would cost to charter a plane instead, and how figured each passenger could pay just $39 if they pooled the expenses. ″(When) we arrived in the BVI, somebody said "sharpen up your service a bit and you could be in the airline business,'" Branson recalled, and from there, Virgin Atlantic was born.

Branson may have been as close to a born entrepreneur as they come, but that didn't mean he flew into his new business blind. For guidance, he enlisted the help of Sir Freddie Laker, one of Britain's most respected entrepreneurs and the founder of the low-cost airline model.

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