Can School Make You a Better Entrepreneur?

business education vs entrepreneur experienceI stumbled over Antonio Neves’ post Can School Make You a Better Entrepreneur? on Antonio does a good job giving a balanced view of that very interesting  question, and he asks bonified smart person Chris Guillebeau too, which is always a good idea. 

Chris gets the best quote in the piece:

‘You might as well learn as much as you can from as many sources as you can,’ says entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau, author of the New York Times best-seller The $100 Startup. ‘Experience may indeed be the best teacher, but you can certainly supplement that education with more traditional or nontraditional kinds.’

That’s smart. There are some dumb quotes in that piece, but Chris is right on. Absolutes don’t make sense. The right answer is not yes, or no, but rather, “it depends.”

I’m just one data point, but in my case I’m 100% certain that I could not have managed my successes in entrepreneurship without the MBA degree that turned me, at age 33, from business writer to business doer. But I’m also certain that lots of successful people did it without the luxury of education.

My opinion: if you don’t have the time, or the money, you can do without business education. If you get caught up in success so quickly that you don’t have time for business education, then don’t worry, you’re already getting it where you are. And if you have the luxury to have a choice, get a real education — math science, liberal arts — first, and then add business training later.


  • Stephen Lahey says:

    For me, working for small business owners who had the skills and experience that I wanted to build up was great preparation for starting my own business. I’ve been happily self-employed for a long time now, but I’m still grateful for the people I learned from years ago when I was an employee. (By the way, I didn’t get much out of college. Too many theories and concepts, not enough application.)

    • Tim Berry says:

      Steve, thanks for the comment. For my part, I loved the classwork and readings for my BA in Literature, and enjoyed the job training I got with an MA in Journalism … but I’m also glad I had 10 more years to grow up before I went back to school for my MBA. I wanted them to teach me theories and concepts, which they did; I didn’t expect them to teach me dealing with people and common sense (which they didn’t). Once again, it’s all case by case … no general rules apply.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *