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Does an entrepreneur need a formal business education to handle growth?

This is a question addressed to business owners and whoever may be in a position to answer. Does every proprietor have to consider taking a course in business administration, or whatever it is that people study to learn how to run a business?

Let’s use my friend Karen (not real name) as a case study. With her, it started with a passion for baking that led to a perfect cake recipe that made everyone who tasted her cake go wild with culinary orgasms. Before she knew it, relatives were making cupcake orders for their children’s school visitations, then their friends and neighbours began asking for her number and then boom! She was a baker in serious business.

At the beginning things were pretty simple, most of her customers were close friends so everyone was polite and kind with zero wahala with customers. She did most of the work from the cleaning, shopping, baking, advertising, sometimes even delivery. But because everything was done at home, she occasionally got a helping hand from her siblings, house help, and sometimes her spouse.

However, months to years down the road, as the business grew, she had to start thinking about hiring staff, managing staff, moving out of home to rented business premises, arranging for financing, making and reviewing sales plans, coming up with marketing strategies, inventing new cake recipes, dealing with financial reports and taxes, and making written business plans.

It got even more complicated the more she seriously considered scaling. She had so little time to do so much, but even worse, she doesn’t exactly know how to do the things she’s realized (or was told) she needed to do, she’s just a girl a who knows how to bake delicious cakes and is passionate about what she does.

She doesn’t know anything about profit and loss statements or drawing a business plan. She knows she accidentally stumbled onto a gem, but doesn’t know it’s true worth, everyone is telling her to do this and that, some of the said business advice can’t even be successfully replicated in her baking industry, but the people giving her advice sound like they know what they are talking about, and her fear for making the mistake of ignoring sound business advice leaves her confused.

Others are offering her lots of money for a stake in her small business, she wonders what it is they see in her bakery to justify such generous offers, so she keeps turning them down because she doesn’t want to be the Esau that sold her blessing too soon for so little all because of momentary greed. Also, she sees how she struggles with the business at its current scale, she’s not sure she’s prepared and equipped to manage it if it suddenly got 5 times bigger with a big capital injection from investors.

She’s clearly struggling to keep up, having to make decisions on a daily basis that are visibly beyond her knowledge and degree of expertise. But someone has to make them, and if she doesn’t play her cards right, someone of these decisions could come back and nip her business in uncomfortable places a few months or many years from now. She has had to make peace with the fact that she can’t maintain the close relationship she has with her most of her customers, which relationships she’s also aware have brought her this far. She sees great opportunity for growth, but she’s also worried about the dangers of the business growing faster than her. So she trudges on with more faith that confidence, hoping that the dots will connect in hindsight.

But do the dots ever connect if you have no formal business education? Does a business proprietor actually have to undertake these managerial roles, or they can hire experts with the proper business acumen to take over the management and steer the business through the scaling process while Karen focuses on what she knows best, baking?

How does this exactly work in the business world for proprietors who are keen on growth?

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What do you think?

Written by Rogers Balamaga

I eat, I cook & write. I also do lawyerly work so I can afford to eat & cook. rogersbites.com

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Dear “Maama”, Did you speak as First Lady, Minister of Education, Pastor or Grandma??

My JEM secrets.