People can go into business for all kinds of reasons, and when they do they usually take with them a specific technical skill or a set of technical skills. If you have ever watched my Famous Wiggly Line Theory I talk about someone who is a tiler, but those technical skills can be anything, a saleman, a lawyer, a solicitor, an accountant or a vet. However the technical skills that are needed to get a business underway are not the skills that are needed for that business to grow and to prosper. The moment a technician becomes a business owner he or she needs to become an expert in the business of business rather than simply an expert in what the business does.
This is the essence of Michael Gerber’s book, “The E Myth Revisited”, which is probably the very best book for all small business owners to read. It is subtitled “why most small businesses don’t work and what to do about it”, which just about says it all. It was Gerber who coined the distinction about working on the business as opposed to working in the business.
I have tried, on many occasions, to list out the specific skills that a business owner would ideally have but I have repeatedly failed. The list is just too long. Too long and too complex.
Of course a working knowledge of sales, marketing, communication, pricing, negotiation, accounts, finances, systems and processes would be on that list but some of those subjects are absolutely massive. A working knowledge of the law, Human Resources as well as specialist knowledge of the law relating to the particular industry would help. An understanding of motivation, basic psychology, ethics and politics would be useful too. So if I were to try and write a syllabus for an all encompassing business degree would it include all of these? Probably, but not necessarily. The skills that are necessary for a successful entrepreneur are just too wide and too varied.
There is however one thing, which when you have it, will increase the likelihood of you getting whatever else you need. The word that we use to describe this thing is mindset. If you possess or can develop the right mindset you can have access to all of the knowledge and all of the learning that you will ever need.
The growth mindset, that Carol Dweck refers to in her book of the same name will ensure that you have the curiosity, the drive, and the desire to learn what you need to learn, to practice what you need to practice to develop what you need to develop, in order to achieve more than you otherwise would.
So if I were developing a curriculum I would be concentrating on catalysing the right mindset much more than on picking the contents of the syllabus. With the right mindset all things are possible. With a fixed mindset very little is possible.
What is your mindset and what are you doing to feed and nourish this mindset?
-Ian Kinnery, Business Coach