(By Gil Gerretsen) I was having coffee with a fellow who was interested in launching a business of his own and the conversation turned to why some entrepreneurs are far more successful than others. I pointed out that, in my opinion, the primary distinctive is that they almost universally have a problem solving mentality. They are driven by a deep-seated desire to fix something in the world around them and then take concrete action to fix those problems. They can’t help themselves.

In media interviews with self-made billionaires, this propensity for problem-solving is one thing that consistently stands out. At first, they are seldom doing it for the money. Typically, they have worked in the field long enough to have a solid awareness and understanding of an emerging problem and it's implications. They also have a genuine empathy for the people impacted by the problem and a deep-seated desire is to mitigate that problem for those people (sometimes they are one of those people).

As chronic problem solvers, they then use their knowledge and imagination to convert their empathy into a business idea with broad potential. By identifying an under-exploited marketplace need before others recognize it, they find themselves in a unique position to use that obstacle to advantage by developing an inventive solution and subsequently launching a business. Sometimes, it's a simple idea that becomes a blockbuster solution.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, or have already launched down that path, never lose sight of the problem that needs to be solved.