Over 90% of Founders go out and start their business without any business education. They start because they are good at what they do. Maybe they get frustrated, hit a ceiling, want to chase an opportunity, move faster, or want to remain true to their values. But they are not the serial entrepreneurs of the magazines and Silicon Valley. They are normal people who have an entrepreneurial seizure and decide to strike out on their own.
Over 90% of Founders are not Silicon Valley startups with Angel funding who are essentially subsidized. The >90% of Founders who are self-funded, boot-strapped, or maybe have a few thousand dollars from friends and family need to generate money quickly, fund their own growth, and get their education where they can. Usually that takes place over time and in a haphazard way. Finding direction, prioritizing what is most important, and building your business while you are running it is hard.
If you are part of this >90%, take a moment, breathe, and congratulate yourself. The fact that you took this leap is a huge accomplishment. The fact that your business survives under these conditions, internal and external, is a credit to your drive and tenacity. Give yourself credit for surviving this far. You deserve it.
This was my journey. I was one of the >90%. I was lucky that my business survived the early years. And I was lucky that it existed two decades later. And I am crazy enough, foolish enough, or stubborn enough to have done it again. But the businesses survived because I intentionally sought to learn and put structure into my business education.
I think about what I would have done had I had access to a structured business training program early on in my entrepreneurial journey. Things would have gone a lot faster and smoother. It would have been nice to know earlier that I was not the only one facing those challenges. Misery loves company, but so does success. And founding a business and driving it can get very, very lonely. I’ve sought to create the Program for you that I wish I had access to early in my journey.
There are many resources out there, many more than when I began. If you have figured part of this business thing out and have over $250,000 in annual revenue, EO (Entrepreneurs Organization) Accelerator offers a great program. Google it. But EO Accelerator is volunteer-run and is not available everywhere.
There are many incubators with great networks like the Batchery in Berkeley or the Venture Hive in Miami and a slew of others. But they too often require you to move or be local. Many do not have a formal business training program, they expect you to come with that. And they usually want a percentage of your business, even a small one. In addition they generally only take applicants with high scalability potential.
SCORE (Service Corps Of Retired Executives) under the SBA (Small Business Administration) and the APTA (American Physical Therapy Association), among many other organizations have voluntary mentorship programs. They can be great if you get a good match. But personal experience shows that these are hit or miss. But it can be worth a shot.
Individual coaches with specialties are another option. But specialization is for later.
A specialist is already what you are in your particular field of expertise. You do something really well. Otherwise you probably would not have gone out into business for yourself. But lacking a business education as the >90% do, a generalist business education will serve you best as a foundation for future growth.
As I learned in EO, and as has been reinforced for me in my work as a coach, trainer, and adviser over the past years, 80 to 90% of a business is the same. This is true across industries, specialties, and cultures. Most of business is the same. Most of the challenges, problems, opportunities, and needs are the same. Every business has a Vision. Every business deals with people inside and out. Every business must communicate internally and externally. Every business must set goals and plan strategy. Every business must deliver value, address a problem, and make a profit. Further, every business has an opportunity to delight their customers, to fulfill an unmet need, solve unique problems, and grow. It does not matter if you are running a food truck, providing clinical services, creating software, or making baby food, the vast majority of the challenges, opportunities, and daily business routine are the same.
In the early stages of your business, to get to the point where you can grow significantly and hire specialists, YOU, the Founder, have to be a really good generalist in business. You have to know the basic components and how the different pieces fit together. Unless you have significant funding and can hire a team of specialists and experts before you generate revenue, the Generalist path is for you.
Join me for the next session of The 12 Focus Forward Pillars for Your Business. Or take the Focus Forward Business Self-Assessment to see how you and your business stack up against the generalist education that you and it needs.