"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education." – Albert Einstein
Leave it to a genius like Einstein to reinforce the value of on-the-job training.
For a small business owner, the reality is that many of the skills you will need to navigate challenges in today's business environment are ones you likely won't get from sitting in a classroom (unless your alma mater is the School of Hard Knocks!).
This is not to dismiss the value of a traditional education, which carries enormous benefits, and has been well documented as a predictor of success. Consider this quote from the New York Times: "The evidence is overwhelming that college is a better investment for most graduates than in the past. A recent Georgetown University study even shows that a bachelor’s degree pays off for jobs that don’t require one: secretaries, plumbers and cashiers. And, beyond money, education seems to make people happier and healthier."
Now that we've put to rest the value of a formal education, let's look back at the inevitable: No matter how smart you are, you are human – you will make mistakes, and what you learn from those mistakes, and how you apply that learning, can make you more successful.
In a recent post titled "10 Lessons Every Entrepreneur Must Learn," American Express Open Forum columnist Carla Young outlines specific bits of knowledge that every small business owner or entrepreneur can use.
Here's a sampling of a few of the points.
How to say “No” and mean it.
Make really tough decisions.
How to sell anything.
Manage your most valuable resource: your time.
Regarding the last bullet point, developing good time management skills may be one of the most valuable skills you develop for your business, simply because time is one of your most valuable assets, and one you have in finite supply.
A survey of small business owners completed by eVoice, a virtual phone service for small businesses, found that two in five small business owners said that time is the most valuable asset to their business. One in four small business owners would pay $500 for one extra productive hour in their day.
So, whether you graduated from Harvard or the University of Hard Knocks (or both), don't discount the value of a good education, no matter where it comes from.