Richard Branson's advice for finding the right idea

Entrepreneurship is about providing a solution to a problem and bringing people and resources together to make that change. But how do you find the right idea to focus on?

“While it can be a struggle in the early days to find one project to pour all your enthusiasm into, just remember that successful entrepreneurs always manage to come up with an idea that’s right for them, and them make it work,” Richard Branson says in a recent blog.

The Virgin founder says that it’s important to be proactive – but warns about just searching for an idea. He refers to a point that Tinder founder Sean Rad made at Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural Business Is An Adventure event in LA recently:

“Entrepreneurship is not a job,” Rad said. “It is a reaction to you wanting to solve a problem. You have to wake up and say: ‘I am passionate about pulling together people and resources…’ Not wake up and say: ‘I want to be an entrepreneur’ because I think you’ll kind of be lost… you’ll be looking for a problem, instead of finding a problem looking for a solution.”

This observation underlies the success of many companies, including Tinder, Richard says. “In our daily lives, we all come across problems, annoyances or frustrations that we would love to see solved. Luckily, entrepreneurs are perfectly placed to solve those problems.”

This is exactly how Richard launched Virgin Atlantic. “After one particularly terrible experience as a passenger with an unscrupulous airline, I decided there must be a better way to fly,” he says. “The next day, our team was on the phone with Boeing asking if they had any second-hand 747s that they were willing to sell.

“Thankfully they didn’t laugh and hang up – and the first Virgin airline was born.”

Generating ideas is a great strength, Richard says, but it’s important to make sure you’re spending your time searching for solutions, not problems. “That’s the best way to approach workable business ideas,” he says. “Become a passionate problem-solver and you’re halfway to being a successful entrepreneur.

“Also keep in mind that once a great idea has been sparked getting it off the ground can feel like a daunting task for anyone – especially if you have nobody there to support you. I would advise you to take advantage of the connectivity offered by the internet. Plenty of resources, networks and fellow entrepreneurs are just a click away.”

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