On a flight I saw a guy with a book which was Entrepreneurship for Dummies. I’d assume that this guy is interested in becoming an entrepreneur and wanting to start their own business. Without having even opened the book, I did have my doubts if books like this were worth buying let alone worth reading. From a quick glance of the book, it seems structured in a way to provide the reader with some methodologies of becoming an entrepreneur and to learn about what common issues will arise.
For me this comes full circle with the idea lf going to school to become an entrepreneur. I am partially against the idea of going to school for this or even taking courses so I kinda feel the same way when it comes to books on entrepreneurship. For me, the books I would recommend for people that wanted to start their own business would probably fall in line with a few categories and themes like business focused books and accounting book. I would say the top book I would recommend to anyone wanting to start their own business would be to read Profit First by Mike Michalowicz [note: can read our interview with Mike Michalowicz in issue 1]. Otherwise I’m more inclined to recommend websites, communities and conferences as a means of getting started. The major downside to books is once they get published, they have an opportunity to expire and lose some relevancy where SEO books are one key example. I don’t think I could recommend an SEO book that is over 5 years old as the advice in it might not be valid or relevant today.
Entrepreneurship in School
When it comes to starting your own business, I see 2 main options that are quite popular and I’m mostly against the idea of going to college or university to learn entrepreneurship. I now see colleges and universities offering entrepreneurship as a program where 10 years ago I don’t think I’ve heard of this although I’m sure this has existed. The other popular route I see people take is getting an MBA. Specifically for MBA degrees, these are fairly expensive and often people have to put themselves into a considerable of debt where that debt will stay whether they finish their degree or not. Let’s assume you have $100,000 to use towards an MBA and you also want to start a business. I can’t think of any entrepreneur that would advise going to school. I think the identical answer with all my friends would be the same: save your money, go try launching your business and ideally do it on a budget. If it fails, you can try school or always look for a job.
I believe it is very difficult to make any course or program on entrepreneurship but when it comes to post-secondary education, we know these institutions are going to make a lot of money from this.
That said my advice to young adults that are wanting to go to college/uni and also start a business would be that school at an early age is never a bad idea. Assuming that it won’t cost you that $100k in debt. If entrepreneurship doesn’t work out then you would always have your degree to fall back on. This also comes with the idea that if a student doesn’t have their mind made up of what they want to do for business, get a degree and buy yourself some time to figure out what you want in life. Just always keep an open mind and be ready for any change or potential opportunity that comes your way.
Entrepreneur Mentality: Just try it
Most of the entrepreneurs I know don’t have any education that relates to what they do or how they did it. There might be some exceptions for things like people taking design courses to make their own websites or the same for programming. Otherwise all these people I know just went ahead and did it. Everyone has their own unique path to success and there wasn’t really a formula for them to follow. It seems less than half the people I know have college or university degrees and many of them having dropped out of school to pursue their business full time because it was both fun and profitable.
Follow a passion, not the money
What is that person thinking anyways when they picked up the Entrepreneurship for Dummies book? My thoughts are they want to work for themselves and they want to make good money doing it and they might want the prestige and respect that could come with being a business owner. To me, without the passion for any aspect of your business other than making money, I just see this as difficult to pursue. For example, would that person be willing to work for 3 months or more using their spare time outside of work to work on a business where they have less interest in the idea and no passion behind it? To me it is hard to keep up this drive and deliver work when results are not yet there.
Some questions to ponder
Want to learn how to make a website?
Don’t go to school for this, just find some articles online and try it yourself.
Want to learn SEO?
Definitely do not go to any school for this. If you see someone selling their own courses that they have created themselves, do research to see what others have to say but I’d recommend this as being a better way to go. Otherwise just try it and figure it out on your own.
Want to learn online marketing?
Go to a conference and network with some people that practice what they preach. Things change too fast in the world of online marketing and SEO to simply put this in a course.
Want to become a doctor?
Go to school.
Want to become a chef?
Go to culinary school or just try it at home.
Want to become an entrepreneur?
No path is the same. Skills and experience are what matters the most. I read a lot of books and listen to a lot of podcasts on marketing, SEO, design, business, accounting and sometimes ones from famous entrepreneurs but I never bought nor searched for books on entrepreneurship. Speaking of books, you can read them all on the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite.
My best advice on this is learn skills by trying things yourself and network with other entrepreneurs. You are the product of your environment and if you ask the opinions from people that have never launched their own business, their advice might be to just go to school. Your non-entrepreneur friends and family all mean good but their advice is going to be the opposite of what actual entrepreneurs would advise. That said I’m not going to fully knock college or university. Most young adults around the age of 20 might not truly know what they want to do in life. This for me is the time and place for school as long as the debts are not too crippling.