Entrepreneurship & education are inexorably intertwined; to nearly everyone, this statement would come across as opinion, rather than a fact of life. The true definition of education is where distinctions, divergence, and conversations will arise: Due to a century plus of ‘schooling’ in America, we’ve been left with at least a plurality, if not majority, that equates education with credentials only.

The best education to pursue, that ensures success, is tied to self-directed learning rather than seeking a degree, certification, or diploma. We are in a new world of work: business, and the entrepreneurial spirit which drives it forward, moves quicker than ever before. Keeping up with the trends, curves, waves, & everything in between necessitates a burning desire, to coin Napoleon Hill, to be a lifelong student.

What phases will the broadly successful entrepreneur enter, then emerge from, while serving clients & customers?

Phase 1: The ‘mental’ game (mindset)

Answer: Six inches worth trillion(s) of dollars

The question: What are the dimensions of your brain as measured between both ears, both physically & monetarily?

While this is definitely a truism, why don’t many business owners feed their minds? Creating a lifelong learning environment, a culture, in an entrepreneurial venture is non-negotiable if you wish to sustain success, let alone become significant.

This becomes even more important if/when you hire staff; whether the person(s) are contractors, agents, temps, employees, or interns, being certain you, and they, are in the game mentally is a mark of a well-educated business owner. Please do not require a credential as a barrier of entry to neither hiring, nor promotions: This is not to say that paper-based credentials have no value in our present era, however, it does mean that you have decoupled education & paper, and understand that a candidate or an existing staffer can be equally valuable in your business.

Phase 2: Financial/fiscal & economic

Ownership & consumerism don’t mix; here’s another truism that many will embrace, whether you realize this at the onset of starting your business, during the year(s) you are entrepreneurial, or once you’ve exhausted your cash flow/working capital (let’s hope its not the last of the three!).

Put in a different context, encourage your staff to invest in their own minds, while concurrently doing the exact same thing as the founder/owner yourself. This is a mark of organic leadership, versus being an average manager, or attempting to lead by title or position only. Some call this approach, “You, Inc.” while others cite Ben Franklin’s famous quote; whichever way you slice it, you have adopted this educational phase and are now all-in: Congratulations!

A dollar which purchases an ebook and the same dollar which partially pays for your lunch are definitely not the same. While very few would dispute this, the facts on the ground show otherwise: many businesses and the entrepreneurs who launched them often see a line item in their budget for professional development and sacrifice it in hard times, which is the exact opposite of what should be done.

Phase 3: Social & relational

Your business network is another form of capital: social capital, which is priceless currency in our present economic era (known as the Gig Economy/Conceptual Age).

Relationships always triumph transactions. (Tweet this)

Why? When you’re relational, you have embraced the endless value of serving your connections, whether they presently buy from you, may in the future, etc. You are exercising what Bob Burg calls the [Laws of] The Go-Giver, and several of the Laws of Lifetime Growth all at once!

There are several ‘chair’ legs that will sustain a business through its infancy, the ebbs, the flood tide (times of hopefully organized chaos!), & perhaps even through an IPO, a sale, or a handoff from one generation to another. One is clearly business networking.

Be certain, if you engage in this activity, to always (no excuses, please) follow up with those whom you meet, even if you don’t believe you can work together; it’s simply common courtesy. A second is joining a referral-based group. These are ideal to generate momentum through the creation of relationships that earn you word-of-mouth business through your fellow members.

Summing up, please ensure that you have learned and exemplify the type of person you’d like to be your friend. Use soft skills to grow your level of awareness and consciousness in the marketplace: these are often not taught in any formal schooling, so pursue them with vigor by ensuring that phase one is maintained in your business at all times.

Education – ‘to draw out that which lies within.’ These three phases go a long way to put into action what education can & should be, versus how it may be commonly identified.

I wish you all the success & significance that you choose to earn through lifelong learning!



This blog originally was posted here: https://innovatenewalbany.org/entrepreneur/educational-phases-entrepreneurship-create-sustain-success/, with much appreciation and thankfulness to the folks at Innovate New Albany.