I’ll be honest: how can people think that a business major or any type of “public” education is necessary to start a business and, actually, being successful?
How’s that even conceivable?
You’re free to refute me, of course, I’ll only give you my transparent opinion.
I’ve been in two management degrees and I’m sure one of them was pretty similar to an MBA.
And, in both degrees, I always felt like management was something really challenging to teach. But why?
Well, because I believe that management is pure good common sense. And common sense isn’t something that you can easily teach.
It comes from your education, from your childhood, from your own personality. That’s the core of management.
“Wait, are you saying that all you need to manage a business is common sense? Are you nuts?”
A business is no more than a process to offer a solution to someone’s problem. You need to understand your customer pains, what surrounds your company, how to communicate effectively, what price to charge and how to reduce costs.
As I’m sure all this sounds kind of “business talk” to some, the fact is you don’t need any degree to talk with people, to generate true empathy and to understand what are your customer’s pains.
You also don’t need management know-how (whatever that is) to think about how you can cut costs, for instance.
You just need to think strategically. Understanding that you need to be creative to find a set of options, and you need to evaluate the potential outcome of each one of those options.
Then, you decide according to your “best judgment”, or what I usually call the “Nash Equilibrium” – let’s save this concept for another time. This is no more than good common sense, I can assure you.
People just don’t think this way that often because we tend to be emotional and to decide too fast. We’re constantly in a rush to make money fast. And, then, we become pushy in our marketing efforts.
“Why aren’t my customers buying? I’m sure our marketing sucks, we need better copywriting! Fire that guy and hire a new one!”
So are you saying that a guy that has a Master in Management isn’t better prepared to manage a company than someone who didn’t have such education?”
Here’s the thing:
It helps to have a management educational background. For sure, it doesn’t hurt.
But if you don’t agree with me, have a look at the quantity of entrepreneurs and business owners that don’t have any type of management background.
As I’m sure you know, most of the successful business owners didn’t study management.
What does that prove?
It proves that the skills and traits that you need to create, lead and manage a business have nothing to do with the classes that you frequented in a management degree.
Nobody can teach you how to be a leader, for example, even though you have a lot of leadership classes on the university that teach you that nowadays everyone is looking for leadership skills, in every role of the society – like we are all leaders… yes, sure.
Yes, you can read books on the topic, you can watch instructional videos and you can even be influenced by great leaders.
But the LEARNING comes from within.
Nobody can teach you something that you deeply don’t want to learn.
As an example, look at how difficult it is to try to convince someone of an argument when that person is on the defensive stance.
And now compare it with a situation in which you’re approached for advice. That person is OPEN to learning and to explore new realities.
This is how you learn. You will never teach a person who isn’t willing to learn.
And there are tons of people in management that have no passion or whatsoever for managing a business and for being an entrepreneur, while engineers, artists, architects, lawyers, and so many others, sometimes show a much bigger drive to create and to lead.
There’s really no pattern.
So, if you don’t have a management background, and you’re looking to be more confident about managing a business – because you feel you need some kind of certificate – let me tell you two important things:
#1 How can you learn management, strategy, and leadership?
First of all, you need to be passionate about knowledge.
No one ever learned anything truly valuable trying to find quick schemes and shortcuts to success.
A truly great mind is intentional, methodical and wise. You must understand that great things do not fall from the sky.
They took the time to be assembled, as Rome also wasn’t built in one day.
Secondly, I’d like to recommend you read books, listen to audiobooks – if you feel you learn better with your ears rather than with the eyes – and YouTube videos.
You can even take some online courses or .
The important is that you understand the importance of focus.
Don’t try to be an entrepreneur today while learning how to prepare a better CV for a job tomorrow. Keep focused on the 2 / 3 topics that are absolutely crucial to your growth as a manager but, above anything else, as a person.
Stick to your plan.
Three books I would definitely recommend and that will change your life are:
These are three outstanding books – very popular, I know, but that doesn’t decrease their value – that you can find in paper or audio version and that had brought me tremendous value, each in a different way.
This is the type of material that you should study because that’s all you’ll ever need to become a great manager or entrepreneur.
#2 Management is not a one-man show
I’d like to emphasize that being a manager is about knowing when and who to ask for help, rather than doing all by ourselves.
You’re not a freelancer. A freelancer only gets paid when he works.
Nope, as a manager or an entrepreneur, you work for something greater than you. You should even be able to remove yourself from the business and see it grow!
I’m not inventing the wheel here, I know. Just want to make sure that it is clear that you don’t really need to know it all! If you’re not great at market research, you can find people to help you. If you have doubts on how to structure a balance sheet or a Profit & Loss table, you can reach out to your accountant to help you.
What is paramount, for any business owner, is to understand how his business clearly adds value to the end customer. What’s the competitive landscape, how is your business unique, and how to lead your team, so you always work with the best possible people.