James Dyson hit number 255 on Forbes list of billionaires with a net worth of $4.2 billion because he is good at problem identification.

He discovered the problem that all vacuum cleaners had by using his Hoover Junior vacuum cleaner  which became clogged quickly and lost suction over time. Becoming frustrated with its performance, he emptied the bag to try to restore the suction but this didn’t work. When he opened the bag, he noticed a layer of dust inside. The mesh in the bag was clogged, preventing the machine working properly. In fact, the machine only worked properly with a fresh bag. This was the first root cause he identified.

He developed the cyclonic action used in all current Dyson vacuums to solve this problem but was unable to license this development to other vacuum cleaner companies. And why was that? Well, these companies made their money, not from selling vacuums, but from selling the bags that went with it. No wonder no one had tried to solve this problem before. Second problem identified.

“Be thankful for problems. If they were less difficult, someone with less ability might have your job.” James A Lovell