Okay, a show of hands, everyone. How many of you had any business sense prior to leaving high school?
Of those of you who said yes, were there any who did not get it from a family member or close friend? I thought so.
There are many things to criticize about the education system. But there’s one that seems, at least from my perspective, to get scant attention: is there a real business education standard which is given any more than passing mention during the thirteen years one sits in American classrooms and absorbs information? Considering that the fundamentals of earning a living is a very important in being a contributing citizen, and that business ownership would be among the most reliable pathway to making a successful living, that’s pretty scary!
I concluded pretty late in my life that learning how to develop and operate a business would be a crucial endeavor. And yes, I can lay a lot of blame for the delay on the education I received growing up. But – and this ought to be an admonition for the rest of us – the more important issue is, how do I make up for lost time?
1. Find a good mentor- I put this at the top because, from a logistical perspective, this will be the hardest step. Even knowing who has been successful in business can be tricky at times because many faces can represent success. And then, there’s the inconvenient question of whether they would want to spend time developing the necessary business skills of ‘little old you! Unfortunately, a lot of people will be like that. On the flip side, there are exceptions. I personally have benefited from a few key people like this in my life. You can too.
2. Discover what’s been successful- This ought to be the basic business education standard. Once you find a good mentor or two, getting that insight will almost be a matter of if it being spoon-fed to you, but this is a question you can get answers to ahead of time. Read books. Search the Internet. Study the stories of the successful. There is a lot of information, oftentimes for free, which can put you well on your way.
3. Don’t be afraid to fail- This may be the hardest point on the emotional level. I am talking here about failing in potentially catastrophic ways. Another problem with the way most of us were taught is that we eventually learned a healthy respect for the red marker. You know, the one that checked off the questions we got wrong? It’s okay as far as it goes, but failure has a way of teaching us in ways that no other environment can. Obviously, if a mentor can teach you from their mistakes rather than yours, it’s a bonus, but be mindful that failure is not final.
Now, there would be some standards that would make us all better!