The best way to learn is by starting a company yourself. This could be anything from a web development company, e-commerce or even a lemonade stand!
The second best way to learn is to work closely with another entrepreneur, either at a startup or as an assistant to the CEO/executive. It's important to see exactly how the startup works on the inside so you can bring experience when you start out on your own.
Being an entrepreneur isn't easy, don't forget to have fun.
The best way to learn to be an entrepreneur is to start being one! Start small - consulting, part-time entrepreneurship or freelancing. Find what works for you and what your customers are willing to pay for.
I first started freelance résumé writing more than a decade ago. I never dreamed that it would enable me to start a successful business, to write a best-seller, to be invited to The White House and ultimately to teach others about how to pitch their ideas, innovations and inventions.
Entrepreneurship is hard of course, but it's lots of fun! It's also a great component of a comprehensive plan you can build for an uncertain job market. You can always develop new skills, build new relationships and grow your career options - and you can do it all working for yourself. If you offer something that folks need in any economic environment, you'll find you're building your own job security, even if it's part-time at the beginning. Start today!
Fantastic question that more folks should be asking!
Quite frankly, the requirements and skill sets required by most, if not all jobs are exactly the opposite of what you need to learn as an entrepreneur.
Thus, the answers of people saying "start being an entrepreneur" are spot on, because there is a whole unseen curriculum you begin learning when you strike out on your own. You will not learn these skills at school or a job.
While a job may pay lip service to notions like "iterate and learn by failure", corporate goals are generally set up to punish failure, which is the opposite of iterative success.
My advice is twofold:
1) Learn skills and get a job to pay the bills.
2) Start immediately learning entrepreneurship by creating a side hustle/lean startup.
For further reading:
The Lean Startup by Eric Reis
Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau
Good luck on your journey, feel free to reach out to me if you have further questions regarding my advice!
I believe you could find good experience with any of the job opportunities you have listed. I personally work at an advertising agency and we work with hundreds of clients, many times we work directly with the business owners themselves. I get to look into tons of business and leadership styles so that may be something you want to consider. That said, based on my observation, the most successful entrepreneurs aren't the people who call themselves entrepreneurs but instead the people that spent several years working and learning an industry and then turned this experience and knowledge into a business in that industry.
I would suggest thinking about an industry that would interest you. Spend some time researching it's future prospects. Make the effort to find an industry that suits you well and is poised for future growth then get whatever job you can in that industry. Look for innovative companies or good leaders you want to learn from, get a job with them and work your butt off to learn everything you can. Eventually, as you learn the industry you will start to spot opportunities and efficiencies you can leverage to create a business. By that point, you will have the skills, industry experience, and contacts necessary to get your business off the ground.
When you get your great idea and you go to look for outside investment your investors will want to know if you have business skills and if you have industry experience. This is the best way to get plenty of both.
The closest to being an entrepreneur is to work a sales position that is paid solely on commission. If you don't sell- you don't get paid.
Sales is going to show you what people are really needing. It will give you insight in how to market to this need. How much people will be willing to pay for your service/product.
Being paid solely on commission will show you whether you have the tenacity and will to manage you finances, and stick to it and find solutions when things look bleak. It will test you to see if you think like an entrepreneur , or think like an employee. Can you handle risk or do you avoid it.
If you are afraid of being totally responsible for what you earn- how much you make is how much you're willing to hustle, then you might rethink being an entrepreneur .
In my experience, the unique skillset required to be a successful entrepreneur isn't something which can be learned through working a variety of jobs as you've described. Yes, it's true that an entrepreneur needs skills in all of these areas- but HOW MUCH and in WHAT CAPACITY is something that only other entrepreneurs can really teach you. Sometimes having a generalist's understanding of a particular area is enough to make meaningful progress, while in other situations your particular niche might require a "deep dive" to really become an expert. I've spent over 10 years creating businesses and making many missteps along the way (let's call them learning experiences!) and the most valuable lessons I've learned have come from more successful entrepreneurs who were willing to listen to my challenges and offer their perspective and wisdom. My advice would be to gain a mentor like this, learn as much as you can, and then start applying what you've learned towards a new endeavor ASAP. I wish you every success!
Each individual will bring something different to a startup team. Often, a founder will have experience in the particular subject matter e.g. nutrition, personal training, adventure, software, real estate, etc but lack broader expertise in sales and marketing or accounting. I recently worked with a startup in which one co-founder used to be a TV director - so he was great at making beautiful video content for the website and for social media - and the other was great at sourcing products from Asia, but neither really knew how to market the business. I myself come from a background in big multi-nationals so I know how to build a brand and how to market a product but I’ve had to adapt to smaller teams and smaller budgets. Consulting is also great for getting exposure to different industries and companies.
Of course the best experience in terms of being an entrepreneur comes from actually launching a business and learning from that experience! Getting a mentor is definitely a great idea, as well as devouring books and relevant courses in the areas in which you know you lack experience.
I don't think there is any job that is going to teach you how to be an entrepreneur. Working as an analyst, in sales, or marketing enables you to see how a certain area within a firm operates, and the role it plays. It can help you learn the skills needed to succeed in that position, but that is not the same as being the boss of your own business.
Those who want to be entrepreneurs may start out by keeping their day job, not to learn how to run their own business, but to have some income while they are setting up.
Others may choose to work with someone who owns and runs his own business, in hopes that they can learn from them, sort of like an apprentice. Unfortunately, many business owners do not have the time, patience or desire to show someone else the ropes, especially someone who may end up being their competition!
Over all, based on my own experience and from that of other entrepreneurs, we learn by doing it. No matter how much, or how little, work experience, education or talent you have, nothing really prepares you for running your own business, mainly because being an "expert" in your field is not all it takes to run a business, or get clients.
In regard to the job market, and the skills one should build to be in demand are concerned, I would say, first and foremost, learn how to code. Anything to do with technology-coding, SEO, web development, digital marketing-I see as useful skills. Being proficient in Microsoft Work and Excel are no longer considered skills, they are considered necessities and are no longer special. So, it is very important to become proficient in tech skills which a company can find useful and use immediately.
First, start by conducting a self-analysis:
1. What do I want, really?
2. What am I already naturally good at?
3. What do I really need to work on?
If being an entrepreneur is your end-goal then your best chance is to become an entrepreneur. Just start something. Starting now gives you the greatest opportunity to start learning, failing, adjusting and developing your "winning formula".
Scared to dive right in? Start small. Side-hustle. Get a job, perhaps a full-time job in VC as analyst (if you need help building business experience), or Sales (if you need help developing people skills and want to refine how to close a deal), or Marketing (if you need help with communication and presenting value) or Consulting (if you want to explore industries and develop business acumen).
What do you want, really? What can you "afford", really?
Pick a direction. Start. Learn. Refine. Re-evaluate.
I liked Scott's answer.
Just start being one... an entrepreneur...
Try searching Clarity for answers I've given about speaking at events (Meetups, Co-Work Office, Conferences).
Just pick something you like doing + think people will pay you to do + start networking at physical events.
When I have a new idea. I pitch it (soft pitching, where no one realizes I'm pitching) + if I can make at least one sale from being with 100 people, then I figure the idea is good.
I call this my Sunset Rule.
If I can have an idea in the morning + make a sale before sunset, then I figure my idea's good.
If I can't make a sale, I scrap it + come up with another idea.
Working in Sales Strategy helped me a lot in running a startup later.
Within a few months of starting up, you will realise that a scalable business is all about setting achievable milestones and using whatever possible to achieve them quickly.
Sales teaches you how to optimise your daily routine to meet your targets, while Strategy teaches you how to set the milestones scientifically.
My name is Humberto Valle, I have been an entrepreneur and investor for about 10 years now. My background is in strategy and marketing and recently sold a small marketing firm I started dubbed www.Unthink.me.
Now I focus solely on consulting.
Anyway, as another expert here mentioned - the best way to learn is to be one. But there is a caveat to that and that is that a lot of newbie 'treps (as I call them) or would be treps get lured into the 'life' not really appreciating the harshness of what it could entail mainly in regards to sales and marketing.
It doesn't matter what type of business you launch, what you produce or who is your target market - the bottom line to any startup or entrepreneur is driven by sales and if you aren't comfortable selling or aren't able you will not succeed. So my suggestion would to simply start selling, either go get a job where you depend solely on sales or start your own small (humble and non-would-be-world-dominating) business where you get to sell directly to potential buyers. The way the market is heading and technology enabling this path - most jobs will eventually require customer service, tech/coding skills, and sales. Which is why naturally a lot of people are being driven to runt their own companies.
I've been a self employed "Entrepreneur" since 2015, but started my business back in 2011.
Entrepreneurship is such a vague term, what is it specifically that you would like to do? If you're business you'd like to start requires a specific skill-set or if a certain knowledgebase would be helpful you should get a job doing that.
For example, I see so many people wanting to open bars, yet many of them have never even worked in a bar or the hospitality industry. For someone like that getting a job in a bar and working in as many positions as possible would be helpful. When you are an Entrepreneur or the owner of a business everything falls on your shoulders, so if the kegerator isn't working that's your problem, you need to know how to fix it. That's why if I were going to open a bar I'd work as a barback, a bartender, a server, a manager, before I was confident I could open a bar.
There's other hard skills that are always good to have such as sales, marketing, video editing, graphic design, etc. If you were to get a job which could teach you any of those skills that would be incredibly helpful.
Figure out specifically what type of business you'd like to start or what type of Entrepreneur you'd like to be and that will give you a better idea of which job you should get to learn those skills.
To answer your question directly; working at a VC firm as an analyst does little for you to understand how to run a business. Conversely, any startup should start with four fundamental pillars of foundation: THe Architect (CEO), The Money Guy (CFO), The Hustler (Sales), and the Techy(CTO).
To directly correlate with your question, entrepreneurs should be well versed in many aspects of their business. Often, many newcomers believe that knowing just one skill will suffice, which is not true. In the case of your question, I would suggest marketing/sales be your priority(since every entrepreneur can benefit from the learnings, and quickly make them actionable within their own business).
To Indirectly answer, entrepreneurs should always learn new skills and build not only their skills toolkit but also their mindset. I hope this answer finds you well. Best of Luck with your endeavor.
Entrepreneurship allows you to do nearly anything you want. Entrepreneurs strengths and weaknesses will be very different from industry to industry. My approach to this question is to ask yourself what is it about becoming an entrepreneur that interest you? Then ask yourself what are your biggest interests and joys in life? Finally what skills do you require to bridge those 2 questions.
What you will find is that there is a specific niche that you are interested in. This niche will require a specific skill set. Once this is established focus your efforts in these areas by reading books, watching videos and talking with people in this space. Building more specific skills to your interest vs general skills will help you achieve a greater success in the beginning.
Find a mentor and just start! It doesn't necessarily start with an idea-- it is really about understanding what is needed and then research, analyze, and plan! Get in a room with people who are already there, and make friends with people who are on their way, just like you :-). Read, study, check out investopedia.com, chron.com get onto Linkedin, learn more about how some of the greatest ideas were built and learn about the creator, founder's story, and just get to it :-)
The best way to learn how to become an entrepreneur is, of course, to just start. When you're forcing yourself to learn everything that's necessary to get a business idea up-and-running, you will learn different parts of both your specific business as well as entrepreneurship in general.
Aside from that, you can also work with other entrepreneurs. I find that roles that allow you to wear many hats, and work directly with founders and/or CEO's are best because it exposes you to as many parts of entrepreneurship as possible, and challenges you in many different ways quickly.
Now, for later-stage companies, a "different" type of entrepreneur is necessary. For this, I would try to work at later-stage startups (on the leadership team if you can) to learn the ropes on how things are done at scale and with a large organization.
Start a business either alone or with the help of a friend. I tried and 5 years down the road, it is still alive! Also consider joining a business that's at it's initial stages, if possible just a volunteer or intern.
Also, consider reading stories about starting businesses, or if within your reach, ask someone who started one that is now up and running. I'm available if you wanna chat a little more about this.
Like most have said, just start.
Gary Vee, love him or hate him, has it right in getting people to be confident in their ideas rather than wait for "the perfect time."
Whichever route you take, it will be difficult in the beginning. I work in sales, and a lot of us "found" ourselves in this profession. Very few people grow up saying, "My dream is to be a salesperson!" And we suffer more than we have to because we are in the business unprepared.
Sales is a form of entrepreneurship, one among many, and the most important thing you can do is be very clear on your values and your goals first. This will give you a firm foundation where you will be less likely to fold or concede under pressure, and will give you a backbone and identity which will draw people to you as a leader.
You might find this helpful: http://www.negotiations.ninja/podcast/negotiate-like-an-entrepreneur-with-marty-park-ep117/
All the best, M