I was a teaching assistant for the Marketing department at UBC for over 7 years, where my role included grading student case presentations, written exams, and providing mentorship with my “real life” experience in the business world.
One myth that seems to reappear is the feeling from the upcoming wave of entrepreneurs is that experience is overrated.
Even when I was a first time business owner starting out by myself with my online foreign exchange business, I had the same notion. I always say that I hate the saying “that’s how it has always been done”. As an individual with an entrepreneurial spirit, I want to find new, more efficient ways to do things; of course, it led me to make and come back from quite a few mistakes.
So why is it a myth that experience is overrated? Because seasoned business individuals can help you avoid a lot of mistakes you are about to make. Sure, making the mistakes will help you learn, but wouldn’t you rather make the same mistakes and make some “new” mistakes by trying new things? There are some things that are universal and don’t change with time.
Cash flow is king - that is a key saying for business people. It’s the only thing I look at for a startup. How much cash do you have in the bank? Can you service current debt and how many months of runway do you have? Without cash to fuel your dreams, you will have to fold your business, no matter how big your dreams are. There is a Chinese saying, when preparing for war, the food and equipment for the soldiers must be sufficient and be sent to the war grounds first.
DEALING WITH PEOPLE
It took me many years to learn how to read other people from a business standpoint. One thing a hopeful entrepreneur an abundance of positivity. We dream big, and we are ecstatic when someone else appears to share our enthusiasm for our dreams - our staff, potential investors, our friends. However, once you engage with them you will find that in reality, no one will think of, or work for, your business in the same way you would - and it is only natural, since only YOU are the owner of the business, and the other parties are not motivated by the same things you are and they are also not as vested.
Dealing with people in business comes with experience. You start getting a grasp of what can motivate and align your staff to strive for the same business objectives and goals you have. You will find that it’s a combination of opportunity for self development and financial incentives. Often, with the new wave of graduates and workers, it leans more towards self development. For each person it is different and there is no one size fits all. Speak with seasoned executives who have had years of experience motivating their staff, their team, their bosses, and even their families to support their business endeavours. You will learn many helpful lessons just by engaging in these conversations; there is a wealth of knowledge you can absorb just by talking!
In conclusion, from my personal experience, listening to people who had spent more years in business than myself has helped greatly in my money and people management skills. Don’t discount experience off the bat! It will add to your entrepreneurial toolbox!