When you think of successful entrepreneurs, who comes to mind? Someone like, say, your high school English teacher? Probably not.
Surprisingly, though, teachers actually make some of the best entrepreneurs. Sure, most haven’t been to business school or earned an MBA. Many teachers are more concerned about molding young minds and creating leaders than being business leaders themselves. And of course, there is the time factor – despite what you might think, teaching isn’t just daytime gig that ends when the bell rings at 3 p.m., and most teachers are working well into the evening and on weekends.
So, knowing all that, what could possibly be the connection between a teaching background and a successful business? The fact is, many teachers already have the qualities that many entrepreneurs have to spend years developing in order to be successful. Teachers, whether they are looking to transition out of the educational field, start an education related business, or just create a side hustle that they can work on during school breaks to supplement their incomes, have a head start that almost no MBA can guarantee, thanks in large part to the following skills and qualities.
Now, we’ve all had teachers who don’t seem to have a creative bone in their bodies, and just follow their textbook-based lesson plans and lecture you to the point of death by boredom. But think about the best teachers, your favorite teachers, and what you learn from them – and how. Chances are, it was the teachers with the most creative lesson plans, the ones who came up with new ways to teach the material, who captured your attention and helped the learning stick. Great entrepreneurs, like great teachers, are willing to think outside of the box and experiment. They generally aren’t afraid to try new ideas, or implement new technologies or methodologies to achieve their goals. After all, anyone who can capture a classroom of teenagers’ attention with a creative interpretation of a Shakespeare classic is likely to be able to come up with new and exciting ways to market a business.
Teachers are by definition leaders. If they aren’t, they will be steamrolled in the classroom. Teachers, especially those with experience in administration or additional education like an online master’s in Educational Administration, have the ability to influence and motivate people. The very requirements of a great leader – good communication, conflict resolution, consensus building, behavioral modeling, vision building, etc. – are the same qualities that are necessary for someone to be a great teacher. There is no reason that someone who has the skills necessary to lead a classroom couldn’t successfully lead a team of investors, their staff, or a board of directors.
Whether you are teaching preschoolers or college students, one of an educator’s primary responsibilities is problem-solving. Students may be struggling – or they may be moving faster than everyone else. You might have students who aren’t doing their work, or behavioral issues in the classroom. Regardless of the circumstances, teachers are faced with problems every day that they must solve, often quickly. That ability to think on your feet and create solutions that benefit everyone involved is vital to successful entrepreneurship.
If there is anyone who is capable of understanding and working within budget constraints, it’s a teacher. All too often, teachers are forced to be creative and find ways to do more with less, something that any business owner attempting to launch a new enterprise is familiar with. Teachers know how to do a lot with a little, something that entrepreneurs are constantly trying to balance. The main difference, of course, is that an entrepreneur is working with his or her own or investors’ money, not a pre-determined school budget. However, the simple fact that most teachers know how to be successful with limited resources can help them get their business off the ground more quickly, and without going into debt.
These are just some of the ways that teachers often have what it takes to be successful entrepreneurs. So if you have ever considered hanging out your own shingle and launching a business of your own, don’t hesitate because you “only” have a teaching background. You might be surprised at how well the skills you’ve developed in the classroom translate to entrepreneurial success.