Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 5th 2015 Contents Q: I m 19, in my last year of high school,
and I already find myself at a crossroads. The
only thing I m passionate about is being an
entrepreneur and launching my own business.
I ve considered starting an ice cream shop, a
Mexican restaurant, a car wash, a software
company and other business, and I find them
all equally intriguing.
Right now, I plan to get a degree in computer
science, as the first step toward creating my
own software company later on. However, I d
like to diversify my businesses when I can (just
as you did with Virgin).
Since you have experience in many different
arenas, I d like to know what you consider to
be the most relevant and crucial qualities of a
successful businessman? Should I stick with
studying computer science and technology, or
should I develop skills in another area? Should
I stay in Bulgaria, or should I seek better oppor-
--- Boyan Kushlev,
Deciding which direction to
take is something every-
body struggles with at one
point or another. But part
of the fun of being an
entrepreneur is the fact
that you don t have a boss
telling you what to do or what direction to
take---it s all up to you!
Right now, Boyan, it probably seems like
your entire life is hinging on this decision
about what you should study, and that there
will be no going back after you make a choice.
In reality, that isn t the case. Just because you
start in a certain sector, or study a certain
subject at university, that doesn t mean you
will have to spend your entire life at it. In my
case, I decided not to go to university, and
treated my life experiences as a source of
That said, I agree that learning to code is
a good idea; coding is the language of inno-
vation. And if you would like to set up a soft-
ware company, then studying computer science
sounds like a good idea. The skills you will
learn will take you places that you can t imagine
right now. However, you could also take these
courses online or part-time. Have you looked
at that option?
This may also tie into your question of
whether you should stay in Bulgaria or leave.
I always encourage people to travel if possible,
especially young entrepreneurs.
Travel broadens the mind, exposing you to
new cultures, different problems and better
You might learn why a successful business
model in one part of the world will not work
in another, or you might even meet different
people who can push your business ideas for-
But the most important thing for any bud-
ding entrepreneur to do is to get out there
and start a business. You may have considered
starting an ice cream shop, a Mexican restau-
rant and a software company, but until you
commit to one idea and give it everything you
have got, you won t know how enjoyable start-
ing a business can be, or if entrepreneurship
is even a good fit.
If none of your ideas for a business inspires
you to take the plunge, ask yourself "what
frustrates me?" Jot down a list of all the things
you would like to see changed or done better.
If it frustrates you, it is likely others will want
to see change too, and it could be the spark
that ignites a great idea.
Make sure that you make your choice
because you are following your own passions,
and not just mimicking others.
Bill Gates built Microsoft because he firmly
believed in the personal computer, at a time
when others dismissed it; Richard Reed found-
ed Innocent Smoothies because he wanted to
promote healthier lifestyles. They didn t look
at what others had found success with before.
They did what they loved to do, and what
they thought would make a positive difference
in the world. Every successful entrepreneur
shares this trait. It will help you to keep your
business going through the tough times.
Many successful entrepreneurs also share
the ability to take risks.
At Virgin, we have taken so many that I
can t remember them all. And while there are
obviously some that are worth taking and
some that aren t, you should learn to trust
This is where your friends and family come
in. Ask for their advice, and together you will
come up with the right solutions. As long as
you have a desire to innovate, the curiosity to
try new approaches and the passion to change
an industry, you will have all the makings of
a successful entrepreneur.
(Richard Branson is the founder of the
Virgin Group and companies such as Virgin
Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Mobile and
Virgin Active. He maintains a blog at
can follow him on Twitter at
twitter.com/richardbranson. To learn more
about the Virgin Group: www.virgin.com.)
(Questions from readers will be answered
in future columns. Please send them to
RichardBranson@nytimes.com. Please include
your name, country, e-mail address and the
name of the Web site or publication where
you read the column.)
@2015 Richard Branson. Distributed by
the New York Times Syndicate
FEBRUARY 2015 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG13
Finding the right path at
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