A lot of people think there are courses you can take and training you can undergo that can train you to do well in the world of entrepreneurship. We think we can read some books and suddenly be prepared for the gut wrenching, hard decision making reality of running your own operation but the real truth is that the only thing that can prepare you for entrepreneurship is entrepreneurship itself.
Let me tell you a quick story. In 2004 I made a decision that would change my life forever. I joined the Army. My aptitude test scores I had to take upon getting in only gave me a few choices of what jobs to do. They were: Combat Arms, and Combat Arms. Right. So, combat arms it is.
Once I got in and started training, I quickly learned that I’d be deployed to Iraq for at least a year, to fight in the war, very soon. It was ok though, I knew I’d end up there. In fact, sitting with the recruiters months prior, knowing we’re in war time, I was already totally convinced I was going. It wasn’t a big surprise.
What was a big surprise, however, was when I actually put my boots on the ground in Baghdad a year and some change later. Feeling the cold chill of the vibe of death. Getting bombed with 107 MM rockets the first night we were on the FOB (forward operating base) we stayed at, and realizing that I not only wasn’t in Kansas anymore, but I was in the worst possible place at the time, in the world.
Then, throughout the ensuing months, my life was everyday patrols of nerve racking drives through Sadr City, getting blown up by IED’s, having RPG’s launched at our trucks, and constantly having to watch out for the long range precision shooters (snipers) that already took out two of our guys, and many others.
Great. I was in the middle of Hell itself and there was nothing the United States Army could have said, done, or put me through that would have prepared me for that craziness.
And the same is true of entrepreneurship. Business school won’t teach you what you need to know.
Working for another company won’t give you the real ability to go grow a business on your own. Not even going to the $5,000 seminar you “can’t miss” will give you what you need to be effective out there in the business world. Having worked for a lot of other companies, before starting my own, I thought I was set!
“Yea,” I thought, “I know business!” But what I didn’t realize was that I didn’t know entrepreneurship, I just knew how to execute business moves being a player in someone else’s game. And those are two very different things.
The only thing that can prepare you for entrepreneurship, is entrepreneurship. You’ll need to get use to losing 15 games in a row, then showing up to game 16 with all of your motivation ready to show the opponent who’s boss.
You’ll have to develop the psychological wherewithal to persevere when nothing is going your way. You’re going to have to learn the ins and outs of creating something that brings you passive or sustained income.
You’re going to have to test all of your assumptions about what the world really is, and what’s possible out there. You’ll have to get use to being extremely uncomfortable for consistent periods of time and you’ll have to come to the understanding that not only will school not teach you what you need out here in the world of entrepreneurship, but that the very society you live in prepares you only to follow, to only value security, and to not take chances.
So how do you succeed when you’ve been set up for failure? How do you succeed when nothing in the world can prepare you what you’re getting into? You’ll have to develop some strange tendencies that take you through it. You’ll have to do “weird stuff,” and you’ll, by definition, have to be contrarian. You’ll have to..
- Pay specific attention to your mental energy. You have to notice what is nipping away at your ability to be creative and take aggressive steps to interrupt it.
- Develop the ability to re-energize your internal drive, when it’s been drained to the point of near death.
- Understand that you’re not about to take some actions, and get some results but rather, you’re about to have to roll a snowball down a hill at an extremely slow rate, and slowly build momentum.
- Start eating and sleeping right. The more demand you put on your mind, the more optimized your body will have to be to deal with it effectively.
- Make decisions that could possible PUT YOU DOWN TO ZERO, and borderline jack your whole operation up. Usually, this happens in the startup phase but is sometimes necessary to move you to the next level.
- Learn your own mind, the one thing they should have been teaching you to use in school while they were insisting you learn social studies.
- Be ok with being in positions of extreme uncertainty and discomfort, ALL OF THE TIME.
- Become a smart marketer.
- Become a strategy based thinker.
- Learn to spot opportunity.
- And much much more.
Ultimately, the best school for business is the one where you go out, take a chance, and put yourself in the middle of the chaos. Only then, can you truly learn entrepreneurship.