What to tell your kids if they want to start a business

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I’m sitting in the Whole Foods Cafe today and thinking about the founder John Mackey. I recall reading his book “Conscioius Capitalism ” last year.   I always find it so interesting to learn about the varied paths people take to self-employment.

Like many entrepreneurs, Mackey started his businesses because he had a passion and a strong belief that he could fill an unmet need and figured it out as he went along.


John Mackey took whatever college courses caught his interest, mostly philosophy, the arts and humanities but did not earn a degree. Here’s what Mackey had to say: “I never took a single business class. I actually think that has worked to my advantage in business over the years. As an entrepreneur, I had nothing to unlearn and new possibilities for innovation.”


I have never believed that I’d have been more successful had I majored in business rather than art.


When a young person tells me they want to start a business and asks if they should go to business college, I give them the following advice.


If you want to be an executive in a major corporation, get your MBA. If you want to open a small business, take a different route. Go to college if you can afford to without getting yourself into significant debt but forget business courses and take whatever classes interest you. Go to college for an education, not a job. Whether you go to college or not, I recommend you design your own internship. Work in the types of businesses you think you might want to start. Do as many different aspects of those businesses as you can and be a curious observer. Notice what’s working well and what’s lacking. What could make it better? Is there a complimentary service that you could provide to enhance this business? Ask lots of questions and take notes.


I have friends and clients who say they wish they’d gone to college or finished their degree but I’ve never heard a successful entrepreneur say, “I wish I’d majored in business”.

Ever. Have you?




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