‘School Na Scam’ well you’re neither right nor wrong. Bill Gates dropped out of studying law. Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Walt Disney dropped out of traditional school education. Tumblr founder, David Karp, I mean he dropped out of high school at 14. Anyway, mentioning them does not validate all they do. But I believe these are names you must have heard off. However, these people dropped out of school (traditional educational box), but they never dropped out of education (continuous learning and exposure of the mind). I bet you’ve never reflected on this before joining the bandwagon in Nigeria that amplifies ‘School na Scam’.
Education is far beyond the traditional approach
It is very important for all entrepreneurs to advance their knowledge and skills in the area of business. However, basic traditional education, like language, basic mathematics and such is a vital foundation. As an entrepreneur, you are a solution maker. You are part detective and part inventor – both require a substantial amount of knowledge of the specific area of concern.
Traditional Education You Need As an Entrepreneur
- Understand what you need and develop it
- Decode numbers and manage money management
- Legal understanding
- Network, Communicate and build social capital
- Build general marketing skills
- Product knowledge and development mastery
- Human resources management
Understand what you need and develop it
If you’ve been thinking that to find your power and the secrets to success you must drop out of school, you had better have a rethink. A good number of those “who made it” found academic courses far too broad. Hence, they got frustrated by irrelevant assignments, tests, projects, group works – when they are originally forged to be a leader of a poignant goal-driven team. They dropped out. Many focused and educated themselves with the relevant topics of interest. Remember, you only get to hear about the successful ones.
Decode numbers and manage money
If you aspire to be an entrepreneur, you must know the management of costs and receivables. You need to learn how to read your numbers or get someone to translate the meaning to you if you can afford it. Today, excel sheets, both offline and online like google documents, are the most effective tool to work with numbers. This is a basic aspect where you need to educate yourself about. Learn to use excel and all the features available. Know how to quickly come up with budgets, calculations, estimations and forecasts in your very simple way. A Good business must have a balance between growth, profitability and liquidity. There are many free courses online that can show you this.
In today’s society, you need to create a legal setup around your idea to make it a valuable business. For example to open bank accounts for your business, get a loan, create invoices, purchase on credit, deliver your taxes and so on. All these legal things are key to know. Educate yourself on the basics. Universally, every business needs to pay taxes. Be it to the local government, state government or federal government, in accordance with the laws and regulations guiding the country in which the business is.
As an entrepreneur, you need to be aware of the various statutes, procedures and processes regarding taxation. You can engage in continuous education in this sphere easily. Learn from free content created by lawyers, accountants, tax advisers and consultants in your area. Social media is filled now with free content. If you are in Nigeria, you can check our blog on business startup blog series.
Network, communicate and build social capital
Not everyone can market and it is ok like that. It might be more efficient to develop your networking skills so as to build social capital. If you can grow a network of partners, you get to tap into a pool of experts with different skills. However, you should work on selling your idea or business to someone else. Learn to pitch what you are about. With a strong education in communication, you can pitch your ideas and plans to potential investors, your customers, your partners and your employees. Please note that you can’t learn verbal communication and neglect non-verbal communication skills.
Build general marketing skills
Traditional education does not teach you to build general marketing skills except as a profession to work as an employee. So you need to get the basics here and enhance your general knowledge about the different aspects of marketing. There is so much education on this out there and for free. When you then get an employee, you actually know what they are talking about and doing. It is you as an entrepreneur that would design the product and set the price, offer this product to the market, through distribution. Now to tell the market about this product, your communication skill would be needed. While you can rely on technology for other things, you need to know about customer acquisition and retention, product-market fit, the usability of the product, the user experience, user conversion, scalability. These few things are crucial, and can directly affect the outcome of a business/product
Product knowledge and development mastery
When you develop your idea, you might begin to notice exactly what the product is. You have to master core aspects of the product development as that is the backbone of your business. Take for example you start a coffee shop and employ someone to make the coffee. The coffee becomes talk of the town. Well then, maybe you want to learn more about the coffee making process from the employee. This is crucial especially in places like Nigeria. Because you can teach new employees, so as not to face the risk of being very dependent on that particular employee. So be wise.
Invest in product knowledge. This can apply to the whole national state of things. Instead of continuously outsourcing, learn how to develop it. Before the pandemic began, Europe had outsourced much of its textile production to China. As the pandemic hit, China was leading in face mask production. European countries actually battled to get the face mask . Prices spiked. It took months before each country could get deliveries from China. Now imagine this happens on a small scale in your business. Master the core.
Human Resources management
Double congratulations, you are now an entrepreneur, and a manager. As an entrepreneur whether you like it or not, every now and then, you’d need to handle some management duty in your business. But as an entrepreneur doubling as a manager, you must know that there is a difference between pushing your employees to work harder and efficiently. While your employees are there to bring your vision to life, it is your duty to develop a good environment. This could be in the form of compensation, good welfare, hazard prevention. Being too lenient as a manager could lead to laziness amongst employees, and being forceful on how employees must work could bring resentment and disloyalty. It is now your duty to develop a healthy environment that allows transparency, reward and recognise diligence, with focus on clarity and accuracy and thoroughness in communication.
The basic education you can begin to develop
You need to know the basic principles of capital management in order to maximize the efficiency of your business operations. We explored understanding numbers and legal issues, networking and building social capital, marketing and product knowledge as well human management. However, depending on your business, these might vary. The knowledge you need and the dedication you should invest will be different. Depending on how many employees you have and what the core of your business is. So the key takeaway is to understand your business. Then find out what areas you need more education and go for it. You just can’t stop learning!
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Thank you for reading to the end.