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Business Success: Can It Be Taught?

May 23rd, 2013 by Dexter Findley

Most people have a conception of business skill as being something intrinsic and unteachable. The 'savvy' or 'nous' required to create and run a successful enterprise is innate, a natural human quality. Its embodied in successful entrepreneurs like Branson or Sugar, people who rose from penury to extreme wealth on the back of their cunning, intelligence and drive. It's the American Dream, in a way: the idea that people can rise on their innate skill alone, regardless of their background.

The thing is, businesses (and their management) exist within a system. Not just within the laws and regulations of government (see of previous article for a discussion on this), but also within global economic shifts, consumer demand, political climates and ecological variation. There is a very good argument to suggest that the aforementioned giants, and their respective companies (Amstrad and Virgin) became the behemoths they are because of the 80s economic boom.

Or, for a more historical example, take the late 19th century rise of American industrial dynasties. There is a solid argument to suggest that this colossal boom in capitalist enterprises was facilitated by the creation of the railroad network (especially the Transcontinental Railroad), which enabled the efficient exploitation of the USA's vast resource tracts. Fifty years earlier or later, and the Rockefellers might have just been a regular suburban family.

Perhaps its the ability to recognise trends and understand the current business environment that makes a good entrepreneur. But surely, the intricacies of the current environment can be taught, familiarised and understood, even if the drive and perseverance required to create a successful business in the first place can't.

But say you have a passion for business and an understanding of the lie of the land... but something just isn't happening. Maybe its the economy, maybe something about the product is just 'off', maybe a competitor is doing it better. It's down to luck, really: no human can predict every eventuality.

Therefore, broadly speaking, there are three factors to making a successful business: personal drive and commitment, understanding of the current business climate (something that can be taught), and luck.

There is no one 'magic bullet' to success, but receiving tuition in the game before you play will certainly help you in your quest to become the next business success story.

Categories: business, success, teaching