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Is entrepreneurship part of your destiny?
Q: Do you believe in feng shui? I’ve been told by a feng shui master that I’m suited to a business career.
I’ve been working for many years, but have no major achievements to boast about and not a lot of money in the bank. Now I’m becoming restless. How do I know if I truly am destined to become an entrepreneur?
— Thomas Chee, Malaysia
Years ago, when Virgin Records really started to take off, our team began looking at the Japanese market as a possible place to expand. I loved visiting the country, and was fascinated by the different customs involved in doing business there. It was during those early trips that I was first exposed to the principles of feng shui.
Popular in many parts of Asia, feng shui is a Chinese discipline that posits that harmony and success can come with the proper alignment and arrangement of interiors.
In Japan, some of our most important meetings took place in opulent hotels, and I would notice that the surroundings were arranged just so. Drinks would be set on tables in certain ways, and plants were carefully positioned around the rooms. The people I was meeting with were always neatly dressed in suits and ties. I must admit that my long, straggly hair, beard and sweaters looked out of place! Still, we found ways of working together on everything from records to computer games. Perhaps the feng shui was working in our favour.
Since then, I’ve learned that feng shui translates as “wind and water” — two elements we have a lot of around Necker Island, where I live. In fact, you can often find me out on the waves catching the wind as I kitesurf around the reef.
Being in harmony with nature is one of the things I love most about Necker. Of course, I am always open to a little chaos to shake things up, but I like to think that on the island, our particular style of feng shui is in good working order.
Providing a harmonious environment is a good idea for any business. You can work anywhere, but it can be easier in suitable, stimulating surroundings. My wife, Joan, is a genius when it comes to creating wonderful spaces to work and play in—Necker Island’s Balinese-inspired buildings and living areas are good examples of her vision.
And every design at the Virgin Group, from our Virgin Active gyms to our Virgin Money lounges to rooms at our Virgin Hotels, arises from our careful attention to detail. We want to ensure that people feel inspired.
It’s probably not a good idea to listen only to a feng shui master on career matters. Since you’re looking for advice about your future, it would be good to talk with people you trust, like your family and loved ones (my mum is always my first port of call).
If you’re considering starting a business, their reactions can serve as your first round of market research. Tell them about your ideas, and you’re likely to get honest feedback.
Of course, in the end the only opinion that will really matter is your own.
You mentioned that you’ve been working for many years without achieving anything significant, which I thought was an interesting statement. I bet that if you asked your colleagues, they could name several of your achievements. In order to be a successful entrepreneur, you will need to possess self-confidence and the ability to sell yourself, as well as your product, so remember to stay positive!
If a feng shui master believes you are suited to the life of an entrepreneur, that’s great, but ask yourself: do you really believe it, yourself? Do you have the appetite for late nights and early mornings? Are you ready to embrace failure upon failure until you learn from your mistakes and find success? Are you prepared for a rollercoaster ride like no other, taking calculated risks to achieve your dreams?
If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then go for it. The entrepreneur’s life is all I know, and I can’t recommend it enough. But don’t embark upon it because someone else thinks you should. Make sure you have an idea you believe in, along with a plan in place to turn it into reality.
At some point, everyone has to make a decision about whether to take the plunge and follow their dreams. Has that time arrived for you, Thomas? Only you can answer that.
(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-branson/blog. You 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 Richard.Branson@nytimes.com. Please include your name, country, email address and the name of the website or publication where you read the column.)
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