A few years ago a friend told me he was taking an “Entrepreneurship Class” and I remember raising an eyebrow. How do you take a class to learn how to be a certain type of person? The word entrepreneur is defined as: a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so. How do you teach someone to take risks or to work hard?
It’s not that I’m against higher education, although I kind of am, it’s that I’m against the idea that you can try to teach someone to be something they are not. And do you know the one critical piece that’s missing from every “Entrepreneurship Class” in the world? The fact that none of them make you put your own money, blood, sweat, and tears on the line. You can’t do that in a well air-conditioned classroom. You do that in real life.
So if you want to get an MBA in Entrepreneurship, here’s exactly what you need to do:
Start a business.
Right now. I don’t care what it is, what it does, what it sells, who the customer is, etc. Just start a business. Give it a name. Get someone to build you a simple website. Get a logo made. Spend as little money as possible doing those things and do them yourself by figuring out how.
Sell a product or service.
Once you have your business and your website, put a product or service up for sale. Stand behind that thing you’re selling and say it’s effin’ great. The more excited you are about the thing you sell, the better chance you have of succeeding. You should do some marketing too (and I don’t mean starting a Twitter account or Facebook page). Actually put in effort and get creative. Think about ways to put your product in front of people.
Hire someone for a month and then fire them.
You want an entire semester’s worth of education? Go through this process. Hiring people is difficult, but there is almost nothing harder to do as an entrepreneur than letting someone go. It sucks. It will keep you up at night. It will leave a pit in your stomach. It will cause great stress in your life. But you’ll learn from that process and you’ll make tremendous growth as a person and as a business owner.
Put your money where your mouth is.
Whether this means paying for marketing or advertising, invest a good chunk of money into your business. You’ll probably lose that money and not see any direct ROI. This is called life experience. Some guy standing in front of a chalkboard telling you how to write a business plan or balance a budget isn’t going to help you understand what it feels like to make a financial decision that doesn’t pay off. Put real money on the line and learn from the experience that follows.
Pivot (as they say in the biz).
Completely change the direction of your company. You were selling a product, now it’s a subscription service. You probably need to throw away all your previous collateral around your product. That’s going to suck, but it wasn’t working, so why the hell are you holding on to it? You can look at a graph about pivoting on a projection screen in an auditorium, or you can see it happen in real life and understand all the emotions and time that go into it.
Congratulations, you now have an MBA in Entrepreneurship!
Something tells me that entire process will take less than a semester in school, might actually cost less, and will give you a wealth of knowledge and experience you would never learn in a classroom.
And before people get all uppity that entrepreneurship classes teach you the basics of business and the fundamentals of starting your own company, that’s existed for years and it’s called a “Business Class.” An entrepreneurship class, or major, is nothing more than a marketing tactic to recycle a pre-existing syllabus.
If you think I’m trying to sway people from becoming entrepreneurs, I want the exact opposite. I want more people to do exactly what I’ve listed here, save the time and money they’ll give to a large institution, and learn from real life experience. When you get in the actual trenches and do the actual work, you reap incredible benefits.
Now go do these things and then write “MBA in Entrepreneurship” on a piece of paper you can frame and put up on your wall. You deserve it and I’m proud of you.