For many, the hectic pace of the 9 to 5 working in a corporate job has become a drudgery and they long to pursue their dreams and fully develop their God-given potential through a life of entrepreneurship. The internet and other modern technologies have made the dream of launching a business and becoming a successful entrepreneur a more accessible reality for millions of Americans. Now is the time to start your own business, and this post will provide you with the key areas and resources you need to consider to plan your own journey to entrepreneurship.
This is a guest post by Jason Matyas, a former Air Force pilot who left a fast track to high command for an entrepreneurial path in order to facilitate more time with his family and to give greater value to others and future generations. Jason is an entrepreneur and business consultant, and the co-founder of Beyond Off Grid, a documentary film and training media company that inspires and equips people to become more self-reliant and less dependent on modern systems. He provides mentorship through their Online Media and Marketing Intern program. Scroll to the bottom of this article to read more about the upcoming webinar by Jason!
It is the worst of times and it is the best of times.
By objective and realistic economic indicators, the US economy never recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, and is now standing on the precipice of another crisis due to the government repeating the same mistakes and kicking the can down the road.
Despite the often rosy government economic statistics (that discount large and important factors), the outlook for the modern economy is not good, as indicators of economic slowdown and another financial crisis are everywhere.
For many, the hectic pace of the 9 to 5 working in a corporate job has become a drudgery and they long to pursue their dreams and fully develop their God-given potential through a life of entrepreneurship.
The internet and other modern technologies have made the dream of launching a business and becoming a successful entrepreneur a more accessible reality for millions of Americans. The faltering economy mired in sub-par performance since 2008 has made considering such a path a necessity for many who would never have done so before. When you’re unemployed and businesses are not hiring full time employees, you have to start looking at all the options, even those outside your comfort zone.
Even if you continue a job search until you find good part time or full time employment, you should seriously consider starting a home based business while you do that, because there’s no better time to start than now.
If the labor market remains abysmal, starting now will allow you to build momentum with a new income source, and even if you find a job in the short term, having an already-started home business gives you a ready-made option you can turn to if you become unemployed again in the future.
It’s much easier to ramp up an existing part-time business to generate additional income than it is to wait until you exhaust all other options before starting.
And for all the young people who are facing the worst labor market in a century (unemployment amongst recent college graduates is at or above 50%), now is certainly the best time to start building skills and a business while you have low expenses and don’t have a family to provide for.
So let’s look at a few key areas to get started planning your path to entrepreneurship. You need to consider the following to determine the best course of action for you to pursue:
- How will you acquire business skills?
- How will you acquire experience?
- How will you start your first venture?
Acquiring Business Skills
There are a wide variety of ways to acquire the skills you need to run a business. It’s important, however, to understand the difference between knowledge acquisition and experience acquisition. While knowledge can be gained through experience, experience is not usually gained just through knowledge acquisition. So while it’s important to look for the best sources of learning to help you build your understanding of business, your judgment will be honed through experience gained by doing, which I’ll cover a bit later.
Knowledge can be accessed on any business topic via the internet for free. The problem is actually that there is too much information available and knowing what sources are best is the hard part. It’s best to get advice on the top resources from those most knowledgeable in a certain field, as well as to read widely to determine which authors and content producers you benefit from the most.
Formal academics still have their place even in our modern era where information technology often makes physical attendance unnecessary. The structure that formal academics provides can often be essential for learning, especially if you are the type that needs that structure to understand concepts fully.
College business courses and MBA programs are useful, but their price tag often is not justified given the resources most people have available. Unless you’re planning on climbing the corporate ladder, and MBA is probably not the best option.
A better option for many who want an MBA-like experience at a small fraction of the cost would be a training course like the Venture Academy, produced by Harvard MBA graduate and serial entrepreneur Wade Myers, which uses the MBA course structure to provide top-notch instruction you can access from home.
Informal academic opportunities abound due to the internet. In fact, many formal academic institutions now offer informal academic options like Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that are open free to the public. You can also access free training courses from experts through sites like CreativeLive, and paid courses like Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula.
You can also access free training on specific topics through webinars (web seminars) and video training produced by businesses that provide that content free for lead generation to try to connect with their ideal customers. Written content can take the form of ebooks and white papers, as well as blog posts and email newsletters. Often, subscribing to the right email lists of thought leaders in your desired area of learning is the best way to find what you need.
Almost all of these learning resources are available online and many or most are free. You just have to learn what’s available and make smart decisions on what sources to choose from.
But knowledge alone is not enough. You need to have practical know-how and judgment to be successful in business, and that’s where experience come into play as one of the most critical means of growing your skillset.
Gaining Work Experience
There are a myriad of different types of business experience you need to gain to be effective as an entrepreneur. Here are just a few categories:
- Practical job experience
- Industry experience
- Role experience
- Technical experience
- Marketing & writing experience
While the last one may not seem necessary if you don’t plan to be a marketer, the fact is that as an entrepreneur, you will need to have some marketing and business communication skills in order to be successful, even if you end up hiring someone to do most of that work for you.
So how do you get those kinds of experience?
While you can try to get a job working in an industry related to your desired future venture in order to get most of those categories of experience, the reality is that unless you’re working in a small entrepreneurial startup company, the experience will be limited. You might get industry and technical experience, but you’re unlikely to get widespread practical job experience or work in numerous roles in most cases.
There’s always the old fashioned way of just starting a venture and learning everything as you go, but that is a high-risk approach that is difficult unless you are in a situation where you can take that risk (I’m looking at you, young people without their own family).
A great option for many people is an apprenticeship or internship – especially for young people who can afford to go without pay initially in order to fund their learning through doing. This is an important concept – instead of paying a college to teach you knowledge, it’s often more effective to work without pay through an internship or apprenticeship in order to learn both knowledge and practical skills and experience. In most cases, you should be glad to have an intern opportunity that you don’t have to pay for.
My first work opportunity after leaving active duty in the Air Force was in an apprenticeship work program so I could quickly gain the skills I needed to launch my own ventures. I’ve sought to aid others in pointing them to other intern and apprentice opportunities, as well as start my own intern programs, most recently through the Beyond Off Grid Online Media and Marketing Intern Program, where interns can learn online business in the context of an active media production and training company.
For those who have already started a business, another means of gaining additional wisdom and skills are through mentoring and accountability relationships such as angel investors, business mentors, coaches, and formal peer groups like C12 or mastermind groups (where you meet with other business owners to assist and coach each other).
Planning to Start Your Own Venture
While entire books are devoted to this subject, and it deserves its own post, I want to offer a few thoughts on how to go about planning a new venture.
There are a ton of different factors that need to be assessed to evaluate a business opportunity. You need to do good market research to determine a need and market demand for a product or service, assess your own skills and resources to be able to meet that need, and develop a viable business model and launch strategy to enter the market and succeed.
There are a few resources that I would highly recommend to help you learn more of the specifics of these essential steps:
- Venture Academy – this mini-MBA course gives broad and in-depth training on every key area of launching and running a successful venture
- Opportunity IQ – this assessment tool will guide you through each of 50 critical areas to consider when assessing a business opportunity
- Running Lean – this book provides a fantastic framework for quickly assessing market demand, refining a product idea, and launching quickly to your ideal customers
How You Can Learn More
There’s a lot more to be said on this topic, and I didn’t get to mention many of the lessons I learned in my own journey. Fortunately, I’m going to be teaching a webinar on this topic and going into a lot more detail.
Join me for my online training on the Journey to Entrepreneurship. I’ll provide my top lessons learned in the various ventures I’ve been involved with over the years, and I’ll be taking questions at the end so you can get answers specific to your situation.
I look forward to you joining me. See below for full details and how you can attend.
All the best to you in your own journey to entrepreneurship,
PS – I’ll be providing those who register with a list of my favorite business and entrepreneur resources.
Journey to Entrepreneurship online training session
Monday, Jan 18th at 9:00pm ET (8pm CT / 7pm MT / 6pm PT)
Join this online training to learn about my journey from a high-flying military career to become a multi-faceted internet entrepreneur and business consultant.
In this training you will learn:
- How to determine what kinds of businesses to focus on
- How to develop your business skills
- How to evaluate business opportunities
- Different models for home-based businesses
- How you can involve your children in your business
- The top lessons from Jason’s personal experience
- How you can learn from Jason as a part of the Beyond Off Grid team