Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 22nd 2014 Contents The question: what
the heck should I
do? is one every
themselves at one
point or another.
If you tackle the problem with an
open mind and a can-do attitude,
it is also the question that will
launch your career.
Let s get started. Grab a pen and
paper (always have your notebook
handy; you never know when the
next great idea will come to you,
and if you don t write it down, it
may soon be gone forever), then
answer these two questions:
Question No. 1:
What do you love?
Make a list of all the things you
are passionate about or that interest
you. It doesn t matter if these items
seem trivial or random; something
on your list could spark a great
Now look at your list, and think
about the industries and markets
it touches on. Are any of them ripe
for innovation? Think about the
companies in those areas whose
products and services you like.
Most established businesses have
some shortcomings; their cus-
tomers are just waiting for a better
alternative to arrive. Whether the
businesses involved are small local
operations, online superbrands or
global corporate giants, if they ve
stopped innovating, you have an
opportunity to seize the initiative.
Sectors where companies have
gotten too comfortable and have
stopped putting customers first
are particularly ripe for disruption.
Also look into starting up a relat-
ed business. In hotspots like Silicon
Valley, each successful startup
seems to spawn other enterprising
ventures that make the initial idea
A great creation like Twitter can
lead to dozens of other good prod-
MAY 2014 • WEEK FOUR www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG19
ucts, such as the video tool Vine and
the scheduling service Hootsuite.
So rather than being discouraged
when you find that someone is already
acting on an idea similar to yours, wel-
come the competition. Pick specific
examples of what you think their enter-
prise is doing brilliantly and try to learn
why it works so well.
Crucially, also look for areas where
the business is performing less well,
and work out how your startup could
improve on things.
Get in contact with the business s
founders and ask plenty of questions.
You ll be surprised to find how many
successful entrepreneurs are willing to
give advice and guidance; they were all
running startups once!
Question No. 2:
What do you hate?
Next, think about things that annoy,
confuse or even anger you. If you ran
the world, what changes would you
like to make? Again, do not censor your
thoughts: just write!
Especially think about moments
when you ve experienced frustration.
Whenever I see something that doesn t
make sense, like shoddy service on an
airline, I start to think about how it
could be improved upon.
Many Virgin Group businesses have
been sparked by our exasperation that
another company wasn t doing some-
As a customer, you have sometimes
been disappointed when businesses
didn t deliver on their promises. Now,
as an entrepreneur, you are in a position
to build a business that fixes some of
The company that results will make
people s lives better, and you are more
likely to be passionate about its pur-
Now look at your lists. If nothing
immediately comes to mind, take some
time out from your day to lie on your
hammock and think about how you
can act on those items and make the
world a little bit better.
Next it s time to start testing your
ideas. You need to be brave and must
accept that there are a lot of risks. Even
the most carefully laid out plans don t
always meet with success, so it s often
better to put your product or service
out there and let some prospective cus-
tomers try it out.
While you re in the testing and plan-
ning phase, go back to all those people
who suggested that you become an
entrepreneur and ask them for specifics
about what they see as your strengths.
Tell them about your ideas and ask for
honest, raw feedback about your next
steps. I do this too. I have always dis-
cussed new business ideas with my
friends and family before turning them
over to lawyers and investment experts.
Finally, don t be afraid to ask your
loved ones for support. You ll need it
and they ll gladly give it. With their
help, I m sure you ll be able to call your-
self an entrepreneur very soon. Good
(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 www.virgin.com/richard-bran-
son/blog. You can follow him on Twitter
at twitter.com/richardbranson. To learn
more about the Virgin Group: www.vir-
(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
How to dream up the idea for your startup
Q: I have been told many times over the years, "You have a great attitude and drive, and an excellent mind. You should be an entrepre-
neur." But what the heck should I do? I have limited funds and resources. Everything that looks like promising, someone else is doing or
has done. I am unsure how to make an idea new or improved, which is frustrating. So what the heck should I do? ---Daniel Armstrong
Rather than being
discouraged when you
find that someone is
already acting on an
idea similar to yours,
Links Archive May 21st 2014 May 23rd 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page