Last week I penned a piece on the Pros & Cons of taking a business course for your ethical entrepreneurship. Please do read the post, because I think I got to some nuance that I rarely see discussed!
So let’s say you are ready to go for it – you’re going to enroll in a professional, low-cost or no-cost course. Here is a brief code of conduct I recommend:
DO’S FOR TAKING A BUSINESS COURSE
Ask questions! Ask to meet with the instructor or entity and come prepared with a list. Obviously you should read the course description, email nurture sequence, or sales page first. Do your best to understand the gist of what’s offered. But then just relax and scribble down some questions – between five and ten is probably pretty good. Don’t worry about asking something too basic or anything like that. A good instructor is relaxed and prepared for this!
Don’t just listen to their answers – do you feel welcomed? Do you feel listened to? If they don’t have time for you, keep it moving and find another course! Sadly there are a lot of cookie-cutter or generic courses just trying to churn through loads of attendees – you can do better!
Get in touch with why you want to run an entrepreneurship! One of my gifts is helping people get to the bottom of this. If you know your Why – your real Why, not what you think other people will want to hear or what you’ve been conditioned to think – you’ll make better decisions. Including whether or not to take a course in the first place!
Knowing your Why, your real Why, is one of the best baseline Knowings you can have in going forward. If you’re considering my course, I hope you schedule a meeting with me – because I can help you with this a great deal, and it’s probably some of the smartest time you’ll spend on the endeavor!
Recruit a buddy! I am in the amazing position of building my business right alongside some good friends – Traci, Annmarie, and Maggie for example. Taking a business course with a friend is one of the smartest things you can do for accountability and support. It’s like going through a birthing process together! You’re going to laugh, cry, horse around – and get some might fine work done! Now don’t sweat it if you can’t find or recruit someone suitable, and never ever pressure someone. You really want to both be ready. But if you’ve got a buddy who could use a course too – that is like the absolute, gold star sweet spot to be in!
Attend class. I had a great attendance rate for my two WHOLE ENCHILADA cohorts last year – this is proof my course is excellent, but also proof my students were too! I’ve been in many courses where students skipped a fair amount. When you skip class, you are first of all losing out on the value of live, engaged activity – watching the replay later (assuming you get around to it) is a pale comparison. But even more importantly than that, when you skip class you are letting your coursemates down. They need you there! And any course built without intra-student engagement – well that’s a cookie-cutter churn, and I don’t recommend that kind of course.
Do your homework! You can’t sit in a course anywhere – even for hours and hours, listening to the world’s most brilliant mind – and a strong business will just spring up around you. No course can do the work for you (that would be a service contract, and those cost a lot more than a course!).
Business-building homework can be brilliantly fun or a total slog – and everything in between. But you can’t skip it – and if you think you can simply outsource it, you’re probably being a fantasist. (And in general setting up outsourcing is even more work than doing it yourself – ask me how I know this!)
Make sure you really have time. Ask the course instructor the hours of homework, workshop, and lecture hours required. Ask your other mentors or closest friends – and tell them to tell you the truth: Do you think I’m someone who sticks with my commitments? Be prepared to listen to their response, even if it stings.
Get support! Speak to your family or loved ones; let your friends know. Ask for someone to make you dinner on class night. (One of my students got a dog babysitter so he could really focus on lecture hour!) Whether you launch your business on graduation day or simply take the course to better prepare you for the day you get serious (which is an excellent proactive plan, by the way) honor yourself by requiring a little from your family and community. If you’re taking a good business course, these are some very valuable hours you’re about to spend. Get yourself some great support – practical, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual!
Invest in the other students! I’ve taken many business modules, workshops and courses. Connections almost always fade right after the course (my own course is an exception to that, I’m proud to say)! The truth is, in a lot of courses the students are there for themselves only and will gobble up a “network opportunity” only if it looks good to them. They are rarely encouraged to connect with one another on an ethical, community-minded basis. That’s just the way things are sometimes. But do your best to know and support your fellow attendees. (Just know it won’t necessarily be reciprocated – and invest accordingly!)
So here are some things to avoid when you take a course!
DON’TS FOR TAKING A BUSINESS COURSE
Don’t waste the instructor’s time. They are there to do a job – help shepherd students through the coursework. Don’t arrange a meeting with them unless you plan to show up to the meeting, and unless you’re serious about the course. If you’re not sure what terms they would be willing to meet with you – ask them directly.
Don’t worry if your plans aren’t perfect. There’s a certain type of would-be entrepreneur who kind of puffs their chest out, thinking their business idea is something really special. A business idea is great but a business idea is about 10% of what it takes for a business to work! Our drive, commitment, flexibility, and volition are far more important than a brilliant idea. So if you have drive, commitment, flexibility and volition – trust me, it’s okay to be muddy about the rest when you get started!
Don’t sweat it if there are personality conflicts. Guess what – in a certain business program I was enrolled in a while back, a fellow student hated my ass (this is a Members-only post, but my work is worth the fee)! Honestly this sucked but fast forward a bit, and today I have a business and this person does not. I did my best to be friendly and a good student but it turns out they didn’t deserve much of my time or consideration. Keep it moving!
Personality conflicts, part two: Listen I recently got dumped by a mentor, too! If you think it stings to have a fellow student be a bit rude or off – it hurts a lot more when the mentor or instructor ditches or dislikes you!
But let me tell you something: it takes a great deal of courage to do what you’re doing. It takes vulnerability to reach for something! A mentor, instructor or teacher has no business treating you like shit, or overlooking you. Put that in your rearview mirror and keep going! And trust me – I’ve been there!
Don’t apply for a scholarship if you’re not going to do the work. By default, in accepting those funds you edged someone else out. Be respectful and treat the opportunity as if you paid top dollar. Show the provider that it’s not a waste of their effort to provide scholarships! That way they’re more likely to continue!
I’m currently on scholarship for my Yoga Teacher Training. I want the school’s four instructors to think of me as a star pupil. I want to make sure they don’t regret extending me this opportunity! I want to do my part to keep their scholarship program thriving and healthy.
Don’t listen to just anyone. For every twenty bits of direct business advice – that is, twenty people telling me to lower my prices, or to look into a new app, or to start selling X product – probably one of these people has a piece of advice that is relevant for me at this time. Many people have opinions, and very few of them are all that great!
It’s not that I’m smarter than nineteen of those people. I promise, I’m not! It’s just that nineteen of them are just talking out their ass without asking me questions first, and I’ve likely already considered what they’re talking about! I’ve spent hours and hours doing the math for my pricing, for instance. I don’t need to be told to lower my rates!
It could very well mean you take a business course from an instructor who is adequate – and that you also find a different mentor for more personal one-on-ones. (If you take my course, you get an excellent instructor AND mentor!) Just be selective who you take into your inner circle – that’s all!
Don’t get too discouraged. There will probably be moments you feel helpless, frustrated, angry, or jealous – like while you are investigating insurance options, or wrangling city B&O tax, or when you get passed up on a networking opportunity that it seems you were perfect for. The problem is most people just don’t know what you’re going through – most people are nine to five. Make sure to find people who get it – and talk to them. Equally importantly: make sure YOU are giving service and support to other entrepreneurs.
We need eachother!
Please remember that in considering an ethical artpreneurship you are doing something most people never attempt – and that many who do, fail. It’s amazing, hard work, and you will often be misunderstood. – And it’s worth it!
See you next week!
Interested in hearing more about my WHOLE ENCHILADA course? I send out emails on Mondays, gearing up for the spring and summer sessions. You can sign up for those here.