Signing out of account, Standby…
Sinking time and money into a college education doesn’t necessarily set you up for entrepreneurial success. Here’s why waiting until after you’ve started your business to pursue the right skills is the smartest route to take.
“But I’m not an expert. I have no degree or credentials. How can I start a business? No one will take me seriously, let alone pay me.”
I hear this all the time from my students. I patiently remind them that I’m a high school dropout, and on paper, my only qualification to manage Facebook and Google ads is the fact that I run a seven-figure agency that manages Facebook and Google ads.
It usually doesn’t sink in, so I refer them to a recent Wall Street Journal article that tells the all-too-familiar story about a group of graduates who can’t secure a high-paying job. This particular story, however, shares the struggles of students enrolled in the MFA filmmaking program at Columbia University, the prestigious Ivy League school in New York. These students took on six figures of debt to obtain an MFA degree, only to find out that not all of the students could be Scorsese right out the gate. An Ivy League education couldn’t save them from the same low-paying entry-level film jobs as someone who didn’t take out a condo-sized loan.
We’re facing an epidemic of over-educated and underpaid wage chasers in this country because we have the success equation entirely backward.
What I’m about to share with you not only applies to starting a business but also to people who just want a lucrative and fulfilling job. I will describe how most people approach skills acquisition, and then I will tell you how successful people approach skills acquisition.
If I do my job well, you’ll be convinced that you don’t need to be an expert to start a business. In fact, if you aren’t an expert right now, you’re better off.
Related: 8 Keys to Coming Off as the Expert in Whatever You Sell
“Go to college! Get an advanced degree! That’s how you succeed.”
It’s amazing how people refuse to believe what’s right in front of their eyes. The Columbia filmmakers are not unique. According to a survey by PayScale, 46% of American workers reported being “underemployed.” Meanwhile, 76% of those respondents said it was because they weren’t using their degrees in their careers.
But people still blindly follow the same old routine, which goes something like this:
Let’s discuss two things about this approach. First of all, it frontloads all the risk. You’re sinking tons of time and money acquiring skills that you hope the market will reward you for. In reality, so many graduates enter the market only to discover that the market doesn’t need their skills. Worse, many find that their advanced education makes them overqualified. They have priced themselves out of the market.
Related: 5 Steps to Establish Yourself as an Industry Expert
Entrepreneurs, and otherwise savvy people, take a backward approach to what I outlined above. Here’s what it looks like:
An entrepreneur starts with the market — listening to what they want, and only then acquires the necessary skills.
There’s also much less risk upfront. Yes, it may take time and money to acquire the skills you need to solve the market’s problem. Maybe it will require a degree? Perhaps it won’t? But it probably won’t. You can work wonders with books and online courses.
But however much time and money you invest, you’re investing it knowing there is a payday waiting on the other side. Why? Because you are responding to the market.
You are the solution to a problem. And, at the end of the day, that’s what people pay money for. Columbia filmmakers learned the hard way that there was no bigger problem to solve — and that didn’t change just because they had an expensive degree.
Related: 7 Ways to Position Yourself So People See You As An Expert
Here are the reasons why you should start your business before you have the skills to deliver. Once you start doing your market research, you’re in business.
Here’s how to start:
You don’t need to become a 10,000-hours master. You just need to know a) more than the client and b) enough to solve the problem.
Solving the problem is everything. Thread that needle, and you’re as good as paid.
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