The other day, I was at Starbucks talking with a small business person who had expanded their business, and had four offices in four different cities with about 150 employees. He had worked for over 30 years, and knew more about his business than probably 98% of the people in his industry. Indeed, I know a little bit about his industry, and I was blown away at how quickly he could answer my questions. He knew his business down solid.
Anyway, as we got to talking, another gentleman sat down with his newspaper, and he was listening to our conversation. For some reason we all exchanged business cards. You see, I am a retired franchisor who runs a think tank, and the gentleman I was talking to owns a heating, plumbing, and electrical business doing residential, commercial, and government contracts. When we looked at the business card for the other gentleman, it showed him to be a professor with a PhD. After he left our conversation turned from his industry, to the individual we just talked too.
The entrepreneur said to me, half jokingly; “I want them to send me my PhD, I’m smarter than all of them, and I have a 30 year degree in the school of hard knocks, and who is that business professor to tell me how to run a business, when he’s been teaching school for 20 years?”
Indeed, I chuckled, because I totally agree. In fact, I started my company when I was 12 years old, and built it up, and eventually franchised it. I had business plans for every subsector of my business, and thousands of pages of manuals that I wrote myself. I franchised my company in 23 states and 450 cities, and I asked; “Yeah, where’s my PhD?”
You see, what bothers entrepreneurs about business professors with PhD’s who have never done anything, and yes, there are those that have, and they are excluded from this conversation – is that while they are reading textbooks, and giving lectures to their students about theory, we are out in the real world doing it, and modifying our businesses along the way, so who is the true expert?
Worse, many of these PhD business professors get involved in economic development associations, politics, and they go to committees assisting government on how to regulate the very businesses they’ve never been involved with. As far as I’m concerned that’s absolutely inexcusable, unacceptable, and probably why we don’t have a good job recovery, even as our recession appears to be over. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.