The Case For Experience-based Entrepreneurship

As a professional in the education industry, I understand the need for a good school experience, both in and out of the classroom. School is something that everyone looks back on to some extent, whether fondly or not. This can be life-defining, and in many cases, set children on the path toward their career of choice.

That said, an increasing number of young adults have opted to embrace entrepreneurship upon graduation from college. And this is outstanding! A lot of unique ideas and great businesses have come from people new to the industry.

However, entrepreneurship has its pitfalls. It’s no secret that starting a successful business is difficult, and it’s even more difficult to grow that business and make a name for yourself. Despite this, many are lured by the success stories of entrepreneurs, to the point where becoming the next Elon Musk seems to be the new equivalent of “I want to be an astronaut when I grow up!”

And I’m not going to discourage anybody from pursuing their dreams. Quite the opposite, as a matter of fact. But it’s worth trying other options and learning the industry through direct experience rather than assuming that education will prepare an individual for the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

There are schools of thought that believe that there are certain qualities that entrepreneurs are born with, like leadership or “outside the box” thinking. While it can be easy to assume that every entrepreneur innately possesses these qualities, there’s more to it than that. Teaching these skills directly is in fact exceedingly difficult, but they still can be learned through extensive experience in an industry. Entrepreneur culture may shun the 9-5 lifestyle, but this is often necessary to learn the realities of the business world that entrepreneurs will need to account for. All of the good business ideas in the world will not work without the savvy to back them up.

Another component of redefining entrepreneurship is the metrics of success. Most wildly successful entrepreneurs did not simply break into the industry with a single attempt; they had previous jobs or ventures in which they learned more about the sector they planned on working with. Not all industries are the same, and the most successful entrepreneurs are inevitably the ones that learn about the challenges, opportunities, and competitions in their field before launching into a big project.

For that matter, success is highly dependent on the individual. Any entrepreneur that goes into a venture expecting fame is likely to be disappointed, given the unrealistic expectations inherent in the modern culture. Conversely, an aspiring entrepreneur may find their own success and satisfaction working a regular job. There’s no expiration date on starting a business, and despite the enduring image of the 20-something making it big in Silicon Valley, research has found that older entrepreneurs tend to be more successful. The fact is, people with a lot of experience that have had time to learn from their mistakes have an inherent edge in the competitive, cutthroat world of entrepreneurship.

So if you think you have an outstanding idea, foster it! However, it is worth considering that an idea and the willingness to work hard is no substitute for years of industry experience.

Ross Sanner

Ross Sanner is the Founder and CEO of Think Growth Consulting LLC, a leading company that guides both nonprofit and for-profit businesses through smart, expansive investment and growth opportunities.

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