Let me know if you’ve heard this one before. “I’m an Entrepreneur, I don’t need school.”Honestly, many successful Entrepreneurs did drop out of college to pursue their dreams. Bill Gates and Michael Dell ringing any bells? If you own your own company, or only intend on working for yourself, a full on degree may not be up your alley. That’s fine, since it’s employers that want to see the full degree anyway. However, some courses will help with your long run success.
You don’t need to graduate from The School of Hard Knocks
A few courses in your field is a smart way to go. Attending seminars to keep your skills fresh will keep you competitive. You don’t need to learn everything in your business from the school of hard knocks. Yes, you will have failures. If you are worth your salt, you will learn from them, and move on. But, it doesn’t mean you have to learn everything the hard way. Too many costly mistakes can cost you, your business.
You Run a Business, you need to know business!
There are some basic business course that it would behoove you to take. I’m not saying you must do everything in your business! However, if you are in the process of hiring an accountant, you need to know how to do your own accounting. If you are looking to expand and hire a marketing person, you need to know about marketing, and what kind of person you want to hire. I recommend the following courses:
- ****possible specialty classes to keep your skills fresh so can compete****
You can take these pass fail if you would like, or as a continuing education class at night or whenever is convenient. But, why these classes specifically?
It’s a good rule of thumb to know how to balance your books, and know basic accounting principles. It will help guide your big decision making. And…what may that be. Let’s say you get a vehicle to aid you with your business, a truck or something like that. Vehicles depreciate at approximately 2-3% per year, but this one is an asset to your business! What does that look like? It’s called a contra asset. It is an asset to your business, but it is also a liability since it is depreciating. Take a look at how inventory looks on your balance sheet. If you want investors they may want to see something more lean, so they get more profits.
Convincing someone to part with their money is a complex psychological thing. Marketing dives into that. However, you need to know not just what your customers want, and who your customers are, but how are you going keep those customers from turning to the competition. Marketing ties into that. Some business owners attempt to get all the customers and that’s not a very good use of your time either. I wrote about that a while back here.
You need to fully understand a Profit and Loss statement. (P&L Statement) Build on where you are profiting, and fix the losses. Sometimes you need to change direction when you see a a bunch of losses on your sheet. What is the root cause? Is it in your control? These are important things to consider, especially if you are a publicly traded company. You don’t want your stock price to tank overnight.
Let’s say you make and sell widgets. Let’s say you get some of the parts you need from China. The factory in China goes belly up in a crazy scandal! You and your competition get your widget components from that factory. The next best option is to get all your parts from a more expensive factory in Brazil. You must raise your prices to avoid taking a loss. Where does this leave you? Economics deals with supply and demand, price versus quantity. The only component that has changed is price, and it changed across the board, with you and your competition. This hypothetical is assuming demand for the product hasn’t changed, so everyone is simply charging more due to the factory change. There may be an initial drop due to the price change, but if you have an in demand product you will bounce back. A general knowledge of economics is important to know when you are setting your pricing too. If demand is high, and supply is low, you can increase your price. If it’s the other way around, then you may need a sale.
You may be thinking to your self, ‘I am an entrepreneur! I opened my own business!’. Growing, competing, and succeeding are a different story though. An entrepreneurship class can teach you valuable tools regarding what investors want to see, what others have done successfully in the past, and of course, learning from others failures. Often times these classes are taught by people who own their own business, or work (or worked) in the field they are teaching.
Whatever industry you are in, it is vital to keep your skills fresh! If the product or service you offer is outdated, the competition will swoop in and put you out of business. I’m not saying go back to school for four years, but a refresher continuing ed course can never hurt.
When you are an entrepreneur you are the boss! If you hated school, well you don’t have to go. You don’t have an employer that requires that to work at a company. Frankly, you may not need several of the degree required classes. Do you know how many times I’ve used business calculus since I took the class? If you guessed zero great work! The same with college algebra. However, not all classes are a wash. You can avoid the stress of grades and exams, and take continuing education courses. You will receive the same benefit with less stress and money spent 🙂 Don’t for the tax write off! Good luck to you!!