When you should and should not do an entrepreneurial programme

Every first time entrepreneur is lacking two things: resource and knowledge.

They can pay for them in two ways: time, or money.

The accepted advice is that whether you should or should not start an entrepreneurial training programme, course, incubator, accelerator or start-up loan usually depends on how much you want more resource and knowledge, and how much time and money you’re willing to spend to get them.

Either way, you’re going to have to leverage your personal net worth. You’re going to have to risk what most people won’t, in order to achieve what most people can’t.

For those who want to spend money and NOT time, accelerators and paid programmes are the way forward. They can provide resource and knowledge at the highest level in London.

And for the reverse, for those who want to spend what time they have, bootstrapping while working is the best option. They’d rather take two years to get off the ground than 3 months, and they’ll be sitting pretty on their 100% ownership and loan-free bank account.

But there’s a BIG exception here.

All of this is null and void if you don’t have the confidence to execute.

Those of you who are confident will roll your eyes at this, and mutter “just do it”, but for a few reading this blog, my words will hopefully strike a chord.

Confidence isn’t innate, it’s not a personality trait, it’s a skill. And like all skills it can be learned and lost.

Most of our confidence comes from the people around us, ask any football team on a winning streak — or a losing one

I’ve seen hundreds of bright, entrepreneurial and creative types who know their current full-time job isn’t what they want to do forever. They may be telling themselves a dozen reasons why they can’t quit the job and start the business idea, perhaps their coding skills aren’t up to scratch, or how on earth does one write a press release? They don’t even have a co-founder (!!!)

In reality, these doubts are just symptoms of the virus that is low confidence.

And I’ve seen these same people after they’ve participated in a programme such as Escape The City or UCL’s Technology Entrepreneurship 1 year MSc. And they’re transformed!

The value lies in the cohesion and collaboration of the classmates so that a 24 year old with little training or experience, no connections or capital, believes that they can take on the big incumbents and win

Because these courses train you in confidence in the best way, by surrounding you with the very best of your peers. Most of our confidence comes from the people around us, ask any football team on a winning streak — or a losing one. Ask a cyclist whether they’d rather be in the peloton or outside of it.

Most aspiring entrepreneurs are stuck in jobs, stuck outside of the peloton. All their friends knit their brow when they mention their start-up dreams and ask “but what if?!” and trash talk the business idea over a pint.

But having someone whose eyes light up with excitement when you tell them their idea, or pat you on the back when you send your resignation email, or even better, having someone who starts their own business too and understands what you’re going through, is more valuable than any text book, work space, digital course or grant.

And on these programmes you’ll have not one, but twenty people such as these. The value lies in the cohesion and collaboration of the classmates so that a twenty four year old with little training or experience, no connections or capital, believes that they can take on the big incumbents, disrupt an industry and build something great.

So if you don’t have at least 3 friends who are founders, I firmly believe a training programme with a close knit cohort is your best first step, regardless of how much time and money you have.

P.s. people who start and build businesses come from all backgrounds, in all shapes and sizes, and I firmly believe that we’re losing out on fantastic talent because people can’t make informed decisions on what training and support they need outside of a corporate. I’ve seen loads of people go through several different training programmes and I’ve seen those that benefited and those that didn’t. So agree or disagree, send me a comment and we’ll have a chat!