To some degree the experience gained in running a business on a day-to-day basis is the best training you’ll ever have. Paying the rent, paying staff, hiring, firing, sourcing product, dealing with customers or clients, and on and on.
Let’s face it: no amount of training from a seminar or even an MBA can replicate that mass of knowledge – but in order to get to that level of wisdom, the first mission is to survive long enough to acquire all that invaluable experience –and that’s where entrepreneurial training comes in.
But wait, don’t we all gain that knowledge through osmosis? By taking part in a business transaction many times each day as we shop in a grocery store, buy gas, go to the gym or do a dozen other things that are all run by entrepreneurs? Surely we have learned a lot without even trying and we can use that discrete knowledge as we start our own venture.
What do the stats tell us?
It’s a view that sounds logical, but statistics tell us otherwise. Simply put, about half of all North American start-ups have gone under, leaving unpaid debts within three years of start-up. We have no way of knowing how many of them had business training, but we do have another stat to draw upon.
This stat shows that when companies have some formal business training, their rate of 3-year failure drops dramatically to less than 10%.
As far as learning by shopping and patronizing other businesses, one could argue that while we might fly on commercial airlines on a regular basis, none of us would expect to just sit in the pilot’s seat and make it all work (safely). Flying a plane combines science and skill and while running a business obviously requires a whole lot less qualifications, it is still a skill that requires a deep understanding of the many factors, issues and pitfalls ahead of the new entrepreneur.
How to get training
Where you get that skill is up to you. It might be at a university or college, or through an organisation that specializes in such training (like Business Victoria). Ideally training that forces you to constantly question your assumptions, review your original dream and manage the result with vigour and care, without ever losing your passion.
It’s also a good idea to bear in mind that even with all of the benefits of entrepreneur training, to ensure survival, other things must be in place. And they are: your business plan, market research and making sure that you have enough financial reserves to get through at least the start-up phase.
Going back to the original point about wisdom based on experience, while building your own, why not lean on others who have been there – done that? Find newly retired entrepreneurs and lean on them for advice and to act as pathfinders to guide you along the way. Get them involved. They’ll love it.