One of our mantras here on Rockstar CMO comes from the character Dewy Finn in the film “The School of Rock” – “you can’t just say it, man. You’ve gotta feel it in your blood and guts!” and as marketing writer Carmine Mastropierro shares here, that comes from experience.

Do you need to go to business school or receive a formal education to be a great marketer or start a business?

I don’t think so.

Business requires action. First-hand experience. Execution.

Sitting in a classroom often gives you very little of that.

Let me explain why running a business is the best education an entrepreneur can receive.

School is often outdated

Business moves fast. Trends change. Technology advances. That means unless a business school, its programs, and its professors update curriculums often, odds are what they are teaching will be outdated quickly.

Take Sears for example. It wasn’t bad management, bad marketing, or bad accounting that made them bankrupt. It was not moving onto e-commerce. Also known as, not staying with the times. Having an education based on what worked three to five years ago will stunt business growth and performance.

Marketers need to be self-educated through reading books, networking, consuming content, and mentoring. This keeps them up to date with what works today, not what worked yesterday. Most importantly, they should learn through the experience of marketing products and operating a business.

You can invest the years growing a business not waiting

The average college education is four years long. In those four years, you could be growing a business on the side or full time instead of studying and then starting from scratch. I’m not saying don’t get an education. Not at all. It’s incredible for networking and for funding your venture, and it acts as a safety net.

However, you must take action. It takes two to three years for the average business to profit. If someone starts a business while they’re in school – or instead of going to school – they could reach profitability much sooner than if they wait until they’re finished.

Business school won’t prepare you fully for running a business

A lot of what you learn in business school is theory. Don’t get me wrong. I went to school for business and had to create business plans, mock companies, pitches, and more. It’s definitely worth its weight and not all impractical.

Nonetheless, here’s the truth: freelancing, creating businesses, failing, and figuring it all out with my own two hands was worth much more. I learned how to handle taxes, finances, marketing, customer service, and everything in between. You’ll gain some knowledge from reading textbooks every day but applying it is the best way to learn. After all, the human brain is wired to learn and adapt by taking action.

Final thoughts

Nothing teaches you about marketing and running a company better than starting a business yourself.

Textbooks, assignments, and exams won’t prepare you for irritated customers, payment gateways breaking, integrations no longer working, employees ghosting, or other common obstacles.

You might remember how to handle these things from what a professor taught but growing the resilience, experience skills, and emotional strength to solve these issues is priceless.

In an ideal situation, a marketer would both formally and self-study marketing. They would also be applying what they are learning to a side hustle or business while they are in school. Practice makes perfect.

Ready to rock?

Fancy a chat about this? Or maybe we can help with our advisory services or get in touch!


Join hundreds of your peers and get your weekly fix of marketing street knowledge from the Rockstar CMO community.

Share this article