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Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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Do You Need an MBA to Run a Business?

 

Many successful business people did not have a formal education in business when they first started. They learned about business through experience. 

The early business tycoons that built America had little business education. John D. Rockefeller learned about refining crude oil into kerosene to light up America by asking petroleum scientists naïve questions. Andrew Carnegie learned about building railways from his mentor, Tom Scott, and later about the Henry Bessemer process of turning pig iron into steel by talking to prominent metallurgists.

While it’s wonderful to have an MBA, it’s not essential. You could get up to speed on business concepts by becoming an autodidact: reading business books to understand business concepts, signing up for online courses, and regularly attending business conferences.  

Once you’ve acquired a few quintessential ideas on how business works, you could test what you’ve learned in the real world. 

Here are 5 tips on what things you should learn when educating yourself about business. 

1. Learn how to hire good people  

Hiring good people is a skill that will help your business grow at a faster rate than not giving much thought to the process. You are more likely to hire the best people if you improve your skill at advertising your open positions, carefully reading resumes, and conducting in-depth interviews. Finally, when you find the best candidates, be sure to call all references and run background checks

2. Get increasingly better at running your business 

As you run your business day after day, you’ll get increasingly better at it. At some point, most business owners think they know almost everything they need to learn about how to run a business. This is a fixed mindset, which will limit your level of success. Instead of taking this attitude, adopt a growth mindset, and try to learn new ideas from other business owners on how to run a business even better.

3. Focus on innovation

Continue to innovate even when you have a great product or deliver an excellent service. This is what Elon Musk does despite the fact that he runs some of the most cutting-edge companies in the world. Regularly brainstorm ways that you can differentiate your business from similar products or services offered by competitors. This concept was first popularized by Japanese businesses, and they called their philosophy of making continuous improvements to products, processes, and operations Kaizen, which means “change for the better.”

4. Build a happy company

It’s rare to find a business where most of the employees are happy most of the time. In fact, about 79% of employees at most businesses are disengaged. Your business will flourish if you continuously improve the quality of working life in your company--because disengaged employees cost companies far more than business owners realize. Many tech companies, like Google, offer their employees many perks because they have realized the value of investing in employee happiness.

5. Play the long game

Many business owners think of short-term wins to show high profits every quarter. Instead of thinking about how to impress stakeholders, work on important projects that will provide more profits over the long run. Since these projects may take some time to bring to fruition, they may not yield immediate returns on investment. 

If you have a burning desire to start your own company but are holding yourself back because you don’t have the knowledge you think you need, realize that this is a myth. While a formal business education is a wonderful thing, it’s possible to learn about business as you build a business.

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