I've always wanted to run a business. For most of my life, however, I always felt I lacked the experience and knowledge to do so effectively. I therefore I spent the first thirty five years of my career "grooming" myself to be an entrepreneur.
Yes, the math works out ... I dreamed of running a business as an infant.
I studied basic business disciplines in undergrad, such as marketing and operations. I accepted jobs that typically paid less but offered a greater breadth of experience and more mobility in the company. I eventually went back to earn a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus in finance, since I felt it was the area of business I was weakest. And, after graduate school, I took a volunteer job as a business development consultant for the MBA Enterprise Corp so that I could work with entrepreneurs and see firsthand how they operated.
So, you might imagine what I said to a young, aspiring college student recently when he asked for advice on becoming an entrepreneur.
No, I did not suggest more experience.
Instead, I remembered and recited advice I received in graduate school from a business sage with much more experience and wisdom than me. He struck a cord with me when he told a story of a young associate in his company, many years ago, who was going back to school in order to "gain as much experience as possible" so that he could eventually run his own business. Upon hearing this, the business sage replied, "Why are you reading and studying about how to kiss a girl? Just kiss a girl!"
He went on to acutely compare "kissing a girl" to pursuing your lifelong ambitions, saying:
- You could never stop reading and training to do what you love. Instead, go out there and do it. There is no better substitute for experience than experience.
- You are more than likely going to fail your first time, and probably a few times after, but that's the beauty of trying. Failing can be just as rewarding (and fun) as succeeding.
- Eventually, you will find your groove, and you will discover that the actual experience is much different than anything you have read about or been told.
As the company I co-founded, Wild Creations, comes up on its sixth anniversary, I can tell you with complete certainty that this advice is spot on. I'm proud of our accomplishments at Wild Creations, and I don't regret a single step I took to get here. I would even offer words of support to future entrepreneurs and business leaders who wished to pursue a similar path. With that said, however, there really is no better substitute for experience than experience. So, if you are aspiring to start a business or a new career, stop preparing for it and just do it. Just kiss the girl!
And the business sage who offered this advice? Warren Buffett.
Do you have a similar experience? Please share below.