Education vs. Experience? What Prepares Business Owner to Succeed

By Charles H. Green

A recent Gallup poll discovered a significant disconnect between what business leaders need and what higher education institutions think they are producing.

Business leaders have doubts that higher education institutions in the U.S. are graduating students who meet their particular businesses’ needs. But a separate Gallup study for Inside Higher Ed finds that 96% of chief academic examine_resumesofficers at higher education institutions say their institution is very or somewhat effective at preparing students for the world of work.

This topic reminds me of how lender’s often treat borrower resumes as a ‘check-off’ item with insufficient consideration given to how prepared the applicant really is for the task of managing the proposed business. Evaluation is sometimes mistakenly impressed with the “where” and “when” on the resume rather than the “what” and “how.”

Two former workout client files come to mind:

1. The former division president of a major food manufacturer decided to pass on a requested transfer to Europe and instead got an SBA loan to open an upscale delicatessen/gourmet grocery in Atlanta. All parties later learned that stellar performance selling packaged foods to grocery chains meant nothing when serving delicious sandwiches and imported beer.

2. A former 30-year IBM veteran who was passed over for promotion decided to cash out over $1 million of company stock and get an SBA loan to launch a franchise baked ham business in Atlanta, home to the headquarters of nationally recognized Honey-Baked Hams. He lost it all and a million dollar home to boot.

Both of these clients had good academic credentials and more than 25 years of valuable Fortune 500 company experience in responsible positions. However, transferring those skill sets to a much smaller enterprise isn’t always as easy as it appears.

Consider skills owned vs. real skills needed next time you have a prospective borrower contemplating a major life change.


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