Business Lessons from the Street University

School smarts are great, got nothing against them. They award certificates that look great on a CV. They teach you concepts and principles that you might not find elsewhere as easily. They can even make your name look better on paper and help establish your credibility – after all, if your life depended on it, who’d you prefer to meet at the operating table in a hospital…

Dr Max Soutter or Mr Max Soutter?

If you’re a professional climbing the corporate ladder and that’s your goal, then you should know that there are many doors that a piece of paper can open for you – rightly so, for the most part.

BUT and it’s a big but…in business, for entrepreneurs, the world works differently.

In business more academic qualifications don’t equate to you being more successful, capable or mean you’re more likely to succeed…sometimes it can even mean the opposite. The most important qualifications in business aren’t gained in any academic system…for that you’ll need to go to the Street University!

The street university is where your theories, ideas and ‘the stuff you’re made of’ is tested. The street university isn’t looking to see how many books you’ve read or how many degrees you have. Rather it’s looking to see how determined, focused and courageous you are.

The difference between these two is why career professionals often have a very hard time making the transition between employee and entrepreneur. The two world’s work very different

For example

  • Employees are rewarded for following instructions, conforming to established systems and expectations
  • Entrepreneurs are most rewarded for standing out, going against the grain and creating their own systems
  • Employees are expected to perform to the degree that they’ve been equipped with support systems to perform.
  • An entrepreneur needs to perform no matter what.
  • Most employees get paid even if they have a bad week – or month. Some get paid even to do close to nothing
  • Entrepreneurs get paid accordingly to the value they create. Bad performance will almost always affect your pay-day.
  • Employees will tend to focus on their job security.
  • Entrepreneurs will tend to focus more on financial freedom…and the job security of others.
  • Employees are often given a daily agenda and initiative often hindered.
  • When an entrepreneur wakes up, he has to design his own agenda and initiative is a must.

Of course there are tremendous rewards for being a successful entrepreneur. Much more than most employees could ever dream of enjoying. But it does take work, a different sort of work and learning than you may be used to.

Street University doesn’t have to be a School of Hard Knocks! SHK implies that you’re only learning the hard way. There’s a smart way to

  • Learn from people who have already made the mistakes you might have made and are already achieving the goals you’re setting for yourself.
  • Learn by acting on your goals and ideas. Don’t let perfectionism keep you from acting.
  • If you make a mistake, get back up fast, learn the lesson and move on.

If I could only have one, I’d choose street smarts over school smarts.  Fortunately it’s not either or. Both is best as long as you know which is which I guess.

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