Succeeding in business is an iterative process and sometimes the most useful lessons emerge from failure.
There’s no real substitute for experience — but there are several formal and informal ways to learn painlessly from those who’ve blazed a trail before you.
So if you’re hitting the business books, here are three ways to educate yourself for entrepreneurship.
1. Recognise games.
Developing a decent understanding of interpersonal psychology can protect you from negative emotions and cut to the chase in communication — attributes that save time and stave off stress.
So read “Games People Play” by Eric Berne as an introduction to Transactional Analysis — the psychological theory that proposes relationship difficulties at work and elsewhere are caused by the interplay between child, parent and adult ego states established early in life.
We unconsciously trigger these ego states in everyday transactions and inhabit them repeatedly in ‘games’ that prevent us being fully present and communicating in an open and effective manner.
Once you recognise games like ‘kick me’ and ‘I’m only trying to help you’, it’s possible to avoid being drawn into them by consciously shifting your ego state or withdrawing from a conversation until a new dynamic is established.
2. Study the classics.
You don’t need to don a toga at your next business meeting to seem sagacious.
But you can dip into the life lessons of ancient Greek philosophers to help you find professional and personal fulfilment.
So Aristotle can teach us that employees perform better if they believe their work has meaning and is morally sound — while Plutarch provides reminders that it’s crucial to role-model the positive values-based behaviours you expect from staff.
And you could even embrace an Epicurean culture where the main aim of your operation is making internal and external customers happy.
But if you want something punchier, follow Bruce Lee to ‘be like water’ and distinguish between the obstacles it’s better to flow around and those you should crash through.
3. Study for an MBA.
If you prefer the structure and discipline of formal learning but don’t have the time to dedicate to a campus-based course, study a distance learning MBA focused on enterprise.
Online courses can be completed in around two years and their flexible nature means it’s simple to study when and where it’s most convenient for you.
So while you’re gradually migrating from salaried work to self-employment, you’ll be absorbing the latest knowledge on topics like strategic leadership, organisational behaviour and change management.
Recent academic credentials can also help you establish trust and credibility in a new sector — they’re proof positive that you’re dedicated to your new direction rather than merely dipping your toes in the water.
So here are three ways to educate yourself for entrepreneurship — pick the one that strikes a chord and capitalise on the opportunity it offers.
What’s helped you learn most as an entrepreneur? Share your thoughts in the comments section.