The Failure of a Good Business Education By Marvell Lawson

Where did the idea of starting and running a successful business come from? Is having a good business background the path to success? Is having knowledge of the business you want to undertake the secret? The important question is, are there examples of successes that had no business background at all? Usually, background comes from taking business classes and learning the workings of business organizations through experience. Well, the truth is, the reason for so many business failures in one to five years is the foundation of a successful business isn’t structured on a solid knowledge of business practices, but the solid knowledge of communication and its practice. Don’t misunderstand me. Knowledge of business is very valuable, but the true foundation of a successful business is definitely not business knowledge. If it were, there would be many more successful businesses. All you would have to do is read one or two of the business guides out of the tens of thousands, follow their suggestions and, Vuala! You would have a successful thriving business with hardly any thought or effort at all. Well, how has that work for so many hopefuls of the new businesses that start every year? The truth is, business isn’t the foundation, but only a branch stemming from the actual foundation. The real foundation is communication. Every business is different. For that reason, trying to pound your business into someone else’s pigeonhole can be extremely frustrating. New issues always pop up that weren’t addressed before, because your situation is entirely different than every other business that has gone before yours. Similar? Maybe, but how you got here and what you think about the situation and how you think it can best be handled is, or at least should be, completely different than every other business leader. You may learn from examples of how other business managers handled similar issues, but did they use the best options? What is the difference between their problem and yours? How is the business climate different? Were they trying to accomplish the same goals you are trying to accomplish? This is the place where you actually take control or responsibility for your business. If you’re not ready for that, go get a job working for someone else.

Out of all the Business school graduates, how many of them start and run a successful business or become strong business leaders in their industry? Many of them, most of them spend their work lives working for someone else. That’s not a bad thing, it’s a choice. Starting and running a successful small business takes a special kind of person. They can learn to start and operate their businesses by reading a few books and paying attention to the business world that surrounds them every day. The discipline that will help you no matter what business you start or manage is communication. A business minor can be good, but if you are a good manager, why not hire someone to do needed business work like accounting, clerical, government policy, sales and marketing, finance, purchasing, office management, janitorial, IT, strategic planning, and all the other jobs you need done to start and keep your business going? When will you find time to do what you are good at, what you like doing, and what you want to spend your time doing?

When you decide on your business structure, who really decides? Your mentor, your consultant, your lawyer, your accountant, or you? Do you have time to learn all the aspects of business that will help you become successful? What if you learned to communicate well with people so you can accomplish your goals? What if you learn where to search for the information you need and how to acquire that information, and get it to the right people who will make the decisions and take the action that will lead your company toward the path to success? Communication is designed to acquire valued information, translate it, disseminate it, and use it to accomplish your desired objectives.

Education is vital to your success regardless of what avenue you pursue. Ask yourself this: • What do I want to accomplish? • What information do I need to accomplish my goal? • How will I use a communication system to receive and transmit needed information? • How will I monitor the information over time? • Who will put the communication system into practice and manage it?

The failure of a good business education isn’t what is taught in the courses. It is the foundation on which the premise of constructing a successful business is built.

I’m reminded of a woman who was in a network meeting I attended. She was starting a business and recognized that she needed help. She found that getting advice was free but overwhelming. She could go to school which seemed to have little promise of helping her do what she was trying to get done or… And that was her question. Or what? Through tears of frustration she broke down and stated, “I don’t know where to go to get the information I need. Everyone tells me something different. Who should I believe? How do I decide?” Her issues were a business issue, yes, but more than that she had communication issues. She didn’t know what questions to ask or where to find the answers, or how to tap into the communication structure that would show her what her options were. Starting and running a business isn’t about your education as much as how you communicate to yourself what you want to accomplish, then develop a plan by asking the right questions and getting the answers to those question. Realizing, of course, that the questions keep changing and there are many, many different answers to each question and they keep changing also.

Your education doesn’t come from an external source. School can give you an outline of possible disciplines, different paths to try, but education is only an outline that the serious student must follow-up on their own time. School is just a starting point; the real education begins and ends with you…always with you. You make the decisions and new rules of business success. The tool that will help you make those decisions is communication. Communication is what makes your business work. Communication is what makes everything you learn about business work for you. Without communication, you can have no business. Education never ends, it’s 24/7/365 with no vacation, ever. The important factor is what education provides to you, what you need to succeed, and how it is communicated to you?

? Author of forthcoming book “Small Business Superstar Speaking Secrets” professional speaker, and communication coach who works with individuals and organizations wanting to powerfully deliver winning speeches and presentations with self-confidence; and communicate more effectively grow their business, make more money, and build professional credibility. Contact us at 303.947.0962, or

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