Here’s a piece of advice you’re probably not expecting: apprenticeship in entrepreneurship is one of the best ways of getting ahead in the industry.
I know what you’re thinking. Why would you want to stand in someone else’s shadow? Aren’t apprenticeships for those who are completely starting out, rather than those who know their business inside out?
However, the benefits of an apprenticeship for entrepreneurs shouldn’t be dismissed. There’s no end to the learning journey as an entrepreneur, and there’s so much to be learned by standing alongside someone who has walked a similar path to the one you wish to follow.
Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs don’t even consider the idea of an apprenticeship. Are you one of those who are just a little bit sceptical?
Hear me out on this.
Some common misconceptions about entrepreneurs
There are a number of stereotypes floating around about entrepreneurs that I keep coming across. Do any of the following sound familiar?
- Successful entrepreneurs just launch into business when they have an idea.
- They don’t go to college; rather than wasting any time, they’re eager to get started.
- And (probably the biggest one) that successful entrepreneurs won’t and don’t work for anyone else. Isn’t that one of the main appeals of running your own business?
After all, didn’t Steve Jobs drop out of college to set up the world’s first billion-dollar company?
However, the entrepreneurial journey is different for everyone. We can’t all be Steve Jobs. There’s a place for having an open mind, slowing down and seeing opportunity in learning.
If you allow your ego to lead you to believe that you should never work for anyone else as an entrepreneur, you’ll miss out on a wealth of entrepreneurial knowledge that could save you from so many mistakes in the future.
It’s why I truly believe an apprenticeship should be a key part of the entrepreneurial journey.
Every entrepreneurial journey is different
People firmly believe, perpetuate and re-enact these entrepreneurial stereotypes, and then wonder why success hasn’t happened in the same way. We see them in movies and the media all the time. You know the ones – the overnight success stories where the lead character goes from zero to hero in no time at all.
But that’s not reality. There’s no way the full reality of the entrepreneurial journey would fit into a gripping two-hour movie slot, which is why stories tend to exist mostly on the screen.
The truth is, overnight successes are rare. As I talked about in my blog post, ‘The No.1 Secret Entrepreneurs Learn Too Late’, slow and steady, with room to learn from successes and failures, is the way to go – no matter what your journey looks like.
And an apprenticeship is the perfect way to learn from someone else’s real-life journey to business success.
The lessons I learned as an entrepreneur
An apprenticeship is 100% something I would have done if I could go back in time and start my journey as an entrepreneur again. And I’ll confess that yes, I too got sucked into all those stereotypes and inevitably tried to follow the path I thought I was meant to follow based on what I believed.
The result was that I made every easy mistake it was possible to make and ended up learning lessons the hard way. I want to make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes I did back then. If I were to go back and start over, I would definitely seek out an entrepreneur that inspires me and grab at any opportunity to learn from them.
As counterintuitive as this sounds, seek out a successful entrepreneur you admire and offer to work for free for the first year (or however long it needs to be to gain the experience you need).
Learn all you can from that person so that they can help you refine your perspective before you start out on your own. Learn the hard lessons at their expense. The best people are generous with their knowledge and will understand that sharing their own lessons won’t jeopardise their own success.
Success isn’t a limited resource, and neither is the opportunity to learn.
So, what are the benefits?
Being an entrepreneurial apprentice brings with it a wealth of benefits for both you and the business leader you choose to learn from. Here are just some.
The benefits of entrepreneurial apprenticeship for you
- You’ll learn all that you need to learn in real time and in the real world.
- You’ll build your entrepreneurial experience from an expert.
- It’s a free and exclusive 1:1 learning experience for you.
And the best part?
You don’t have to splash out on expensive courses – none of this is at your expense. Over time, you’ll gain a foothold in the industry and a wealth of contacts by working alongside a highly respected entrepreneur.
If you do well alongside that person, you can learn from someone else’s behaviour, mindset, mistakes and successes rather than trying to figure things out on your own, which puts you a step ahead from the get-go.
Of course, there have to be benefits for the person you’re learning from too for this sort of working relationship to work.
The benefits of having an apprentice for them
- In you, they’ll have someone keen to work to their highest standard and have a shared passion for running a successful business.
- They will become part of your success. Rousseau, author of Success On Your Own Terms, points out that “most of the words are “we”, not “I” in business. Any expert you turn to will know that they’ll have played an instrumental role in your entrepreneurial journey, opening up opportunities for the future.
- UK Government statistics reveal that 78% of business leaders said having an apprentice helped them improve productivity, while 74% agreed that it helped them improve the quality of their product or service.
In other words, it’s win-win all round.
Learn now, launch your business later
Taking on an apprenticeship might mean that you launch your business later than you initially thought. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – quite the opposite. Try and think of it as a trial run.
You’ll likely make some mistakes during your apprenticeship and that’s okay. After all, it’s not on your watch, it won’t cost you anything, and it won’t negatively affect your business. Instead, you’ll have a trusted expert to help you overcome challenges and help you if you make mistakes the first time around, so you don’t make them a second time (in other words, durihg your round).
This means that when you do pursue your business idea, the odds will be tipped in your favour.
For example, you won’t make the schoolboy error of ordering too much stock the first time around or be tempted too much on marketing within the first few weeks. You’ll have learned all of this already by watching someone else at work and having the freedom to ask them questions on the best course of action to take.
And reducing the chance of error when you do launch can save you a lot of money in the long run.
What are your chances of business success in reality?
I repeat the following statistics a lot:
- 9/10 businesses fail in their first year.
- Of those that survive the first year, 9/10 businesses fail in their second.
The odds are so heavily stacked against the entrepreneur. But please don’t let that dishearten you.
Instead, it’s wise to do as much as you can to stack the odds in your own favour so you become one of the big success stories – just like the person you plan to serve as an apprentice.
And maybe, one day in future, someone will come to you for some of your wisdom, too.
I’m always keen to help others learn as much as they can to get the most out of their businesses through 1:1 coaching. As someone with a wealth of entrepreneurial experience, I’d love to share some of that knowledge with you and help you uncover your potential. Just drop me a message and I’d love to hear more about your personal and business goals to help you reach success.