The Business Autodidact

June 5, 2017 admin_61054

The Approachable MBA


Develop you MBA-style business knowledge ASAP. There are tons of resources available to increase your business knowledge. There are powerful books to help you continually expand your horizons. Here is a blog post on how books are helpful experience accelerants.

Business and management, like science, guilds and trades, has its own language and vocabulary. Strategy, Corporate Finance, Entrepreneurship and other disciplines are littered with buzzwords and theory. As in other professions, its partly shortcuts in discussing concepts and partly obscurantism. It can seem intimidating at first. Don’t be intimidated. Relate it to what you already know.


You already run a complex enterprise


It’s called your life, and it’s about getting, spending and saving; in business it’s called Revenues, Expenses and Retained Earnings. You have a job where you make your money, it gets deposited in your checking account, and you use it to pay your bills, buy groceries and clothes, go out to eat or a movie; and hopefully there is some left over at the end of the month that you can put aside for a rainy day. You manage bank accounts, checkbooks, debit and credit cards, electronic transfer, PayPal, a mortgage or rent, car payments, insurance, healthcare, utilities… It’s complicated! Sometimes (most of the time) you must make hard decisions about what you can and can’t purchase or afford to do. You have plenty of hard-won experience running an enterprise and have earned your Domestic MBA.

You also have your work experience to draw on to form opinions about how best to operate a business. In any job, we are thrown together with a bunch of people for a large part of each day and we have to figure out their personalities and how to navigate working with them. There are bosses, colleagues, clients and customers you like, and ones you don’t like (not all of them have heard of the No Asshole Rule). There are stupid processes that don’t make sense and annoy you with their inefficiency. But there are also things that make you feel good about the work you do and give you a sense of accomplishment and self worth. And then there are the things that make you feel less than good.
These experiences and knowledge, from both your personal and working life, form the basis and context for what you already know about business and management. This knowledge base should form the touchstone against which you can test anything you read or study about business and management to see if it rings true to your experience.
Integrate your learning into what you already have experienced. At the end of the day, it’s all elaborations and nuance of common sense.
The core concepts of business are basic common sense:
• Create something of Value
• Make People Aware of it
• Sell it for more than it costs you to make
• Duh


Don’t be intimidated by arcane language and theories. Test them against your experience and add the ones that resonate and discard the ones that don’t. The ones that don’t resonate are also very helpful in that they force you to articulate and acknowledge what you don’t like.
This is an extract from my book Managing and Leading People and Organizations available from Amazon in Kindle and Paperback.





Becoming an autodidact, a self-directed learner, is the most efficient way to accumulate the knowledge that seems most important to you and where you want to go. Here are some curated suggestions of the top books on Startups and Entrepreneurship, Technology and the Future, Business Biographies (check out this post on why biographies are important), and top business books written by women.

Reading books about business management isn’t going to make you a great manager all by itself but it can get you thinking about the most important concepts and give you ideas to test and incorporate into your personal style. They will certainly make you better.

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The National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts are using MBA ASAP 10 minutes to Understanding Financial Statements as a pre-read to their Business Valuation Certification Program. Get you free copy here and level up your financial literacy!