Starting your own business - how much experience do you need.

Posted by Daniel Headford

Over the years there have been hundreds of amazing success stories of people who jumped up one day and decided to go into business for themselves. Perhaps you’ve been inspired by these stories. Perhaps you’re wondering if you could do the same thing? But perhaps a bit of apprehension has crept into your musings. Do you have what it takes? Do you have the experience?

What is experience? How much do you need and can you be successful straight off the bat? In this article we try to answer these questions and more: just how much experience do you need before starting your own business?

Can you Think Big, but Act Calmly?

Before you make any leaps of faith, you want to be sure you have what it takes, right? Yes… but that’s easier said than done. After all, what does “it take”?  And do all entrepreneurs have “it”?

Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Elon Musk are all very successful businessman, but no one would claim that they were similar people. Branson is charismatic and outgoing. Gates is more or less your archetypal computer nerd. Musk is a maverick.

So what common trait made them successful? Big ideas and the drive to take them to the next level, coupled with the foresight to call the right shots at the right time.

It’s not enough to just have drive, you need to have the ability to know when to attack and when to hold back. Everybody loves a pop culture reference, so let’s take a look at Game of Thrones as an example. Cersei Lannister has the hunger and the drive to get what she wants, but none of the subtlety necessary to wield power when she has it. Her cunning schemes inevitably backfire as a result. Tyrion Lannister on the other hand has just as many wits as his sister, but he has the restraint to control situations and act when necessary. Heart versus head: it’s a delicate balancing act. 

But enough about excellent fantasy series and back to the matter at hand. Understanding yourself is critical before you embark on trying to understand the world of business. An aptitude test might be able to give you an idea, but in the end you’re just going to have to be honest with yourself. 

Are You Ready, and Does it Matter?

Sir Richard Branson believes that the reason he’s the only person in history to start eight billion dollar ventures in eight different industries is because he always dived in before he was ready.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but ultra-successful people rarely follow the norm: they define it.

But is Branson’s the right attitude for everybody?  Should you really leap in head first before you’ve worked things out? Well, we hate to sound like a broken record, but it all depends on you. 

You see, just going in blind is different to staying that way. As Branson puts it, you most likely already have the knowledge and the skills you need for the initial aspects, and everything else you can learn on the way. The point is that you don’t need to know your endgame in the beginning, because it’s too far away to be of concern yet. All you need is the skills to overcome the immediate hurdles in front of you. Once you’re over them you can move onto the next task and gain the skills necessary to complete it. As your venture grows, so does your experience and your knowledge.

This is not the same as jumping blind into a project with a half formed idea and continuing to flail desperately as you sink deeper and deeper. Enthusiasm isn’t enough, you need the application and dedication to learn what you need to know as things progress.

Knowing the Industry

Every business is different, sure, but they all have some fundamental truths to them. This article is all about how much experience you need to start a business, but perhaps more important than experience is understanding. What’s the key to understanding? Experience.

Ok, so we just went in circles a bit there, but bear with us. The point is that having a basic understanding of the industry you’re going into will be very beneficial. The thing is, the easiest way to get that understanding is through prior experience. Therefore, even though our point is that you don’t need to have experience to be successful, finding a way to earn or buy in experience will help you to succeed or fail faster than other ways. 

But “getting experience” is more easily said than done. You’ve got the idea for your new business now, why should you waste years in a job you have no passion for just to get some experience? If this is the way you’re thinking, good. The desire to get started as soon as possible says good things about your level of drive. And the good news is you don’t have to spend a long time working to get the knowledge you need. Read on for our alternatives: 

Tap into the Knowledge of Those Who’ve Gone Before

No matter how revolutionary or fresh your idea, the odds are almost certain that someone, somewhere, will have experience in that industry already. From hospitality to space exploration, mankind has already stepped into nearly every avenue. Even if you plan to totally revolutionise the industry, investing in talent that has already been amongst it will only make things easier for you.

Talk to current business owners. Hire a grizzled old hand who’s been there a dozen times before. There are multiple ways to leverage industry knowledge to your advantage without having to spend time acquiring it the hard way.

Part-Time It

Why go for a job that’s heading towards a career when you could pick up a wealth of useful knowledge and still leave time aside to dedicate to your own company? The viability of this approach will depend somewhat on the industry you’re working in. Hospitality is the obvious winner in this regard. Part time jobs in restaurants and cafes are as common as Zubats in Pokemon Go, whereas white collar jobs are much more often full time affairs. 

Is Passion Enough?

Perhaps to start with, all you need is a great idea. That’s what well-meaning family members will tell you anyway. But business is so much more than just ideas. There are technical aspects that go into running a company that simply have to be dealt with.

As we mentioned in the previous point, you can learn how to deal with stuff that you don’t understand as you go. That learning will be fed by your passion to be in business.

The challenge is to maintain the passion when day-to-day aspects such as taxes, bookkeeping, rent, employees and much more pile up on your plate.

The unfortunate reality is that you’re going to be distracted from your dream and goal for at least some of the time, and most likely a lot of time, just from having to deal with the boring aspects of running a business. 

So, are you ready for that? Being an entrepreneur, especially a young entrepreneur, means you probably don’t have a huge bankroll behind you to employ enough people to take all the responsibilities off your shoulders so that you can focus on the interesting stuff. Just how much of the day-to-day stuff you’ll have to take care of will depend on your business and how much investment money you can muster up.

If you don’t think you can maintain the rage when the going gets boring, then think long and hard about ways you can help keep your interest level up, or even whether you’re in the right place emotionally to deal with a real business.

So, Can You Start a Business Without Experience?


Sure! As long as you have a bright idea, the fire to take it to completion and enough knowledge of what you’re getting yourself into to be getting on with, then there’s no reason to approach your new entrepreneurial lifestyle cautiously.

But the question, “how much experience do you need to start your own business” is more nuanced than it lets on. The final answer depends on you and the industry. What type of person are you? How much drive do you have? Are you willing to learn on the go? Are you biting off more than you can chew?

Answer these questions honestly. If your responses come up trumps then you should be confident about jumping in the deep end, even if your experience is low.

This guide was written by Corporate Momentum, experts in driving business ventures to new heights.  


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