For Branson, this quest began at age 16, when he dropped out of school to start his first business Student Magazine, which provided an alternative to the stale publications and school magazines of the day.
Since then, the number of companies under Virgin’s umbrella has grown to over 400. They range from airlines to record stores, fitness clubs, banking institutions, space travel and more. All of which, Branson says, originally sprung out of fascination and frustration.
“The best businesses come from people’s bad personal experiences,” he says. “If you just keep your eyes open, you’re going to find something that frustrates you, and then you think, ‘well I could maybe do it better than it’s being done,’ and there you have a business.”
Beyond just identifying when you’ve had bad experiences with a business, Branson challenges entrepreneurs to focus on channeling those frustrations in a way that helps you create more meaningful change in the marketplace. “If you can improve people’s lives, you have a business,” he explains.
But, what if your business idea is already taken? What if someone else is already creating a similar product or service?
When it comes to deciding whether or not you can compete with existing competitors in your industry, Branson says, “people think, ‘well everything’s been thought of,’ but actually, all of the time, there are gaps in the market here and gaps in the market there.”
For Branson, it’s been those seemingly small opportunities that often began as doing things just a little differently, more conveniently or in a way that made more people happy, that have blossomed into flourishing businesses.
For more with Sir Richard Branson on discovering your passions, taking action, saying yes to adventure and much more, watch the hour-long interview right here on 30 Days of Genius.