The path of the entrepreneur is never an easy one. Potential setbacks lurk around every corner, and you can’t predict them all. Even many of the world’s most successful businessmen and businesswomen had several failures before going on to found the companies they’re most known for.
Most of them will agree that the learning experiences they’ve acquired during their careers were key to their eventual success. This will likely be true for you, as well. But how can you best learn in preparation for starting your own business? Here are the three best ways to achieve this.
1. Work as a Manager
If you want to learn how to run a business, one of the better ways to do so is to observe it from the inside. Entry-level employees rarely get a window into the finances and everyday responsibilities of running a business. However, those who are working in business management positions are given a much better view of what it takes.
Managers will see first-hand how important proper staffing is, and may even have some insight into the budgeting for their department or location. In smaller businesses, they also often have the benefit of working closely with the boss.
While not every small business owner is going to be a role model striking a path for you to follow, they also don’t have to be. You can learn just as well from a business owner’s mistakes and missteps as their successes. This all comes together to provide you with an idea of the pitfalls to avoid and the essentials needed to succeed, which saves you from having to learn that the hard way.
2. Get a Business Degree
Business degrees are one of the most popular in America, at both the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels — and for good reason. The basic skills needed to thrive in the business world simply aren’t taught to students in high school.
This leaves much of the population without the proper knowledge and skillsets when it comes to managing finances, leading groups, and raising capital. Areas such as marketing or advertising are even worse off, as they are usually not covered at all.
Thus, formal education in business is almost mandatory, just to bring future business people up to speed. While the basic core of a business degree can achieve this, the real value will come from your specialization. You can, of course, use this to hone your skills in an area in which you’ve already got some knowledge or talent.
It can also be used to patch up those where you struggle. With many business schools offering concentrations in entrepreneurship, specially designed for those planning to launch start-ups, you can be confident in your abilities by the time you graduate.
3. Start Your Own Business
At a certain point, the only way to learn is to learn by doing. Put that theory you’ve mastered at business school into practice and launch a company. It doesn’t have to be your big idea. If you still feel that you aren’t ready, you could try something smaller, such as running a website with a relevant focus.
By starting in this way, you’ll get an idea of what the process is like, drafting business plans, building brand recognition, using word-of-mouth, and growing an audience. If you’re selling products or services, you’ll find out what managing supply chains is like. Should your site grow, you may find yourself building HR and management experience as you take on new personnel.
If this first project succeeds: excellent! By staying in a related field, you can branch out and use it as a platform to launch your other companies or ideas. If not, well, take solace in the fact that your failed first business leaves you in good company. Bring the experiences and lessons with you to the next attempt. Remember, the only true failure is one you don’t try to bounce back from.
At the end of the day, the key to success is to never stop learning. Learn from the experience of working business careers at others’ companies. Pay keen attention to how those above you handle themselves and their roles in the business.
Learn through formal education, developing a specialty that lends itself well to your goals and earning the documentation to prove that expertise. Learn through trial and error, because you’ll never fully know what it’s like until you try. Always keep learning — that’s the path to business success.