No matter your viewpoint on formal education, continued entrepreneurial education is very, very important – not only for your business(es) but for you as an individual. How do you view education and what opportunities are you taking advantage of? Take a look at the following list and find your current attitude toward these entrepreneurial education options and consider your current level of involvement with them. Ask yourself why you have or haven’t engaged in some of these and challenge yourself to try something new.
I’ve coded all of the following into three categories: Accountability (A), Consultation (C), and Teaching (T). Yes, the abbreviations spell out “ACT”—which is exactly what I would want you as a qualified entrepreneur to do!
- The Amazon degree program. (T) Is your bookshelf a “working bookshelf,” or just a showcase?
- Conferences/seminars. (T) The benefits range from skill building to networking, from informational to motivational. You choose what adds value to your career and your organization.
- Informal consultants and advisers. (A/C) “I have a couple of people I trust.” You may not always appreciate it when they disagree with you, but it at least helps to have somebody to talk to.
- CEO peer groups. (A/T/C) Roundtable groups such as EO, Vistage, Young Presidents’ Organization, and chambers of commerce allow you to join fellow entrepreneurs/presidents/CEOs in a confidential setting to learn from one another.
- Coaching. (A) The coaching can be long or short term, goal oriented or aimed at providing general support, and a place to vent. But one of the richest men in the world swears by it (Bill Gates), which ought to make it worth trying.
- Mentors. (C/T) If you’re lucky enough to get taken under the wing of a good mentor, find nonmonetary ways to express your appreciation. You’re getting education in the most personalized form there is.
- Contracts with experts. (C) “I’ve got a guy for that.” These are people who advise you individually or as part of a board of advisers, offering guidance in a particular area of expertise and opening doors to opportunity.
- Formal board of directors. (A) At this level, you have elected to hold your organization to a higher level of control than your own leadership, one that both offers guidance and keeps you accountable as CEO.
- Executive management courses. (T) There are many university- and consultancy-based programs in executive education and they come in various types and lengths. These are “real” school, with curricula, homework, presentations, and, often, graduation ceremonies.
Whatever your choice(s), “school” has plenty to teach you: begin with the end in mind. Your job as founder/entrepreneur/CEO is to raise the value of your business. As your business grows, so does your responsibility to ensure the future of not just the enterprise, but of the people who have joined you and bought into your vision and energy with their commitment of time.