Business Experience Almost Always Trumps Education


A college degree will help you prepare for the work force but nothing can beat the on-the-job training & experience that you’ll gain working in your field.

A Personal Example To Demonstrate

business experienceIn the 1960s, my dad build up a RV manufacturing business that had customers and dealers from coast-to-coast in the United States and the business had reached the point where he either had to expand or sell.

Since it was 1969 and I had broken my neck in July of that year, he chose to sell the business.

The company that bought him out replaced him with a 24-year-old that had just graduated that the top of his class from the Harvard business school.

This kid thought he knew everything and he ignored every piece of advice that dad gave him about the business even though dad had built it from scratch to 140 employees in seven years.

In addition to that, he alienated every dealer that had been set up and cultivated over a six-year period.

He then threw away our brand and logo then renamed the product to the name of the company that bought us out and they used a completely different logo. (At that time, our brand with its logo was the third largest in the nation and it was well known amongst RVers.)

Their brand and logo was known and respected for making pontoon boats but they had no track record in manufacturing RV’s.

If the new manager had had any practical business experience, he probably would’ve known not to trash an existing brand that was known and respected. A better approach might have been to introduce the new brand and logo on new models so that the dealers, the public and the industry could decide whether or not they were going to accept it.

His decision to trash the existing brand and logo meant that all of the good will and cooperative marketing that had been built up between our company and the dealers was also trashed.

No business likes to start over from scratch and a network of dealers or affiliates is no different. When the decision to make the change was made by a 25-year-old fresh out of college without consulting the business men (dealers), that were almost twice his age, that were going to be affected didn’t sit well.

In addition to that, he chose to terminate all cooperative marketing agreements that we had in place with the dealers. This means that the company was no longer going to help pay for TV ads, print ads or participation in sports shows.

(Dad learned early on that advertising was more effective and more product was sold when we tied our company name to the local dealer before we attended any shows.)

The college graduate had nothing but what was in textbooks and what upper management told him to guide him in his decisions. Dad was under contract as a consultant and was in the office every day but this kid completely ignored his 19 years’ experience as a self-employed business owner.

If you had access to a mentor with 19 years’ experience that had built two successful businesses, would you pick their brain to gain insight into the business before you acted?

Dad would’ve been the first to admit that he made some mistakes along the way and that he wasn’t as polished as someone with a college degree but he had a group of good people around him that were experts in their field and he was open-minded enough to listen the ideas presented by others.

The new management team replaced everyone in the front office which included our in-house CPA. Because of this, nobody in the office, except dad, knew our suppliers, knew the employees, knew the dealers or knew the manufacturing process from beginning to end.

Almost every member of the office staff had been with us for at least five years so they knew the business almost as well as dad did. With the exception of the CPA, most of them also knew each other’s jobs.

You can’t beat a well running office that has employees capable of taking on extra duties when a coworker is out sick or doing another job.

Because of the decisions made by this new Harvard grad and his bosses which drove the once thriving company into bankruptcy in six months, I firmly believe that experience trumps a college education.

I’ve also seen experience trump education in the healthcare field.

Share this with your friends and colleagues then leave your thoughts below.

Business Experience Almost Always Trumps Education

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