Business 101 (Or Something Like That)

In high school, I really didn’t learn much about the business world. I learned that my money belongs in the bank, how to write a check, and what credit and debt is. And really, that’s the extent of what the course taught me. I mean, I have learned all of what it means to be an employee, and really, that’s a great thing. The educational system does a great job at training students how to be employees. But, in addition to that, the world needs entrepreneurs with ideas, and not just workers. No, I’m sorry, workers is the wrong word to use here, it’s more like, passionate artisans who love what they do. I think that’s awesome! But being a passionate artisan is the only thing I learned in high school in the area of business. “Sell your trade for money.” Honestly, that’s OK. But I want to build a business based on my trade to such an extent that my trade doesn’t require me to be present at my workplace. In other words, I don’t want to be at work in order for my company to run smoothly. Steve Jobs was the core of Apple. Now he’s gone, but the business is still able to run without him. How did he do that? That’s a question that many business owners think about all the time. “How can I remove myself from the practical/technical aspects of my business, and focus on the planning/vision instead?”

Here’s an example: you love baking cookies. You realise that people like your cookies, so you think to yourself, “this could be a business!” So, lo and behold, you start your own cookie-baking business. “OMG, this is, like, the perfect job for me, because I’m, like, doing something I love and I’m making money at, like, the same time! I, like, love this!” Yeah, that’s what I sound like sometimes. Anyway, you use your trade to create something valuable, which people are willing to pay for because they see the value it holds. You profit, your customers profit, and that’s the essence of any business.

The only problem is, you’re self-employed, which means that you have to handle everything yourself. You bake the cookies, you log the hours, do all of the accounting, contact your customers, answer emails, market and advertise your product, and at the end of the day, you need to figure out if you’re reaching your goal or not. That’s a lot of work. It’s time for a snack.

Alright, moving on. The way I see it is, there are three levels to a business (we’re still using the cookie-baking example):

1. Worker: You are an absolute stud when it comes to baking cookies. You know exactly how to bake them, what ingredients to use, how much of them to use, and you’re just rocking it in the kitchen, and on top of all that, you actually like your job. Your focus is on creating the product that makes the company what it is.

2. Manager: You provide work for the workers. You buy the dough and the chocolate chips, and see that all of the logistics go as planned. You contact your local bakeries, you log the hours of work, do the accounting, and make sure that things are going smoothly. Your focus is on the functionality and organisation of the company.

3. Entrepreneur. You have to keep building the future of the company and build connections with other people who would help your business grow. Where is your cookie-baking business going? Could you start being a sponsor? How about the stock market? Your focus is on building the future of the company.

Business owners have different talents. Some are workers, some are managers, and some are entrepreneurs. If you’re good at baking cookies, and you enjoy your work, then just do that. There’s nothing wrong with it. If you want to manage things, do that instead. If you’re a visionary, then be responsible for the future of your company.

When you start a company, it goes through three stages (again), infancy, adolescence, and maturity.

During the infancy, your company is run by you, and maybe a partner. But after a while, you need to hire people to work for you because the work load is overwhelming. That’s when your company enters adolescence. You hired people, and they’re doing a good job, but you still need to tell them what to do to a certain extent – you’re still involved. When your employees have been trained enough, then they can take over, and you can step into the role of being an entrepreneur – working towards the goal of your company and making sure that your employees are doing the necessary work to get to that point. That’s when your company has reached the maturity stage.

Once your company has reached the maturity stage, like Apple, you as the business owner, have the freedom to step out of the business, sell it, or start a new business while keeping your ownership over the business you have build.

The key to the whole thing is, start building businesses. It’s the same concept with homework, actually. I taught a course on education a few weeks ago, and I gave an assignment to the students. Before I started teaching, I asked them, “do you have any questions regarding the educational system?” There weren’t any questions. I gave them homework, and the next day they came back with a lot of questions regarding this and that and the other about the educational system. The point is, you won’t know what you really want to know until you are able to prioritise it. In other words, if you’re given a lesson (on the educational system, in that case), you won’t know what you want to know because you don’t have any questions. Now, if you’re doing homework, and there’s something you don’t understand, you’ll have questions about it. That’s when you start learning the things you actually want to learn, and you’ll be able to prioritise your knowledge. If you start a business, you don’t need to worry about the vision of your company yet, because you don’t have questions about that. You will, however, have questions on how to market your product, so focus on that for now.

Alright, that’s that. I hope this inspired you somehow if you’re thinking about business or any affiliated topics. If you have any thoughts or insights, feel free to share, because I want to learn more from you guys! Thanks.