The worst type of management can be summed up in one phrase. “Don’t bring me problems – bring me solutions!” The best type of entrepreneurship can be summed in another: “Find problems, create solutions.”
Most people hate finding problems, and eagerly pass them onto somebody else. This isn’t how progress and improvement happen. These occur when people see something they think can be improved, and set about improving it. This occurs every time a purposeful company starts. Every time I have launched a business, it has been to solve a problem – often that I have faced personally.
When I ran Virgin Records I spent lots of time on planes travelling to meetings with bands and executives. I was always annoyed at how poor the service was on airlines, and presumed many other customers were too. Rather than ignoring the problem, I started my own airline. Decades later, Virgin Atlantic is going from strength to strength. I found it frustrating how banks would use hidden fees and jargon to confuse me and other customers. So we started a bank, Virgin Money, with the aim of making everyone better off. I love keeping in shape, but always found gyms stagnant, unwelcoming places. So we created Virgin Active, health clubs that people love to work out, socialise and spend time in.
Entrepreneurs start with a need of a customer that isn’t being met. More often than not, that customer is themselves. They set about solving a single problem, and have the potential to solve many more, unearthing more opportunities along the way. They begin by removing a grain of sand from an oyster, and can end up creating pearls.
So next time you come across a problem, your eyes should light up – it might just be your opportunity to find a solution, and start a business in the process.