The end is never in sight – the next opportunity is always in view

As a leader you must always be on the lookout for ways to turn challenges into opportunities. 

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Many of my ideas have failed along the way but Virgin as a brand lives on and continues to disrupt and change the world.

Every challenge in our lives is there for a reason, so that we can figure out how to use it as a strength. Challenges have been a constant in my life and they are a great way to spark innovation.

As a leader it’s important to always be thinking of the bigger picture and to have vision of where to go next. Every single mistake you make will shape this vision and help propel you in the right direction. 

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My mother instilled in me from a young age that regretting the past is a waste of time and I keep that at the forefront of my mind in business. As an entrepreneur you need to be able to recognise your mistakes and recover from them. I’ve launched a handful of companies that have fallen flat on their face – such as Virgin Brides and Virgin Cola – but I’ve always picked myself up and tried something else.

One of my most valuable lessons learned was when I failed to convince a major publishing house to invest in Student magazine. They wanted to focus on details and distribution but I had a vision for a whole host of new student enterprises, from magazines to travel companies to banks. That failure spurred me on to build the business I dreamed of; fast-forward 50 years and Virgin has become more than I could have imagined as a teenager. 

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The biggest mistake you can make when you are starting out in business is to see failure as a dead end. It’s ok to ditch an idea that isn’t working as long as you learn from what didn’t work and plough that knowledge into your next idea. Many people simply give up and walk away, but there are always new opportunities out there waiting. Don’t let your wounded pride stop you from trying or learning. I’ve often turned to my family when I’ve been struggling – a fresh pair of eyes can often help you find solutions or ways around your problem.

How have you turned a challenge into an opportunity? 

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