How Important is Experience and How Do I Improve?

It’s true that experience is subjective. What some perceive as extensive knowledge and industry know-how, others might see as lacking when not backed by qualifications or university degrees. For some industries, not having legitimate qualifications is an issue. Take Medicine for example. A doctor should be thoroughly trained through medical school and have extensive knowledge of the human body gained through years of study. In other cases, the need for formal training is less vital. In Business, for example, experience is the most valuable asset one can have, and street smarts can in some cases be more important than book smarts.

What do Sir Richard Branson (Founder of Virgin Group), and Gary Vaynerchuk (CEO of VaynerMedia) all have in common? They were both terrible students. Between them, they have few formal qualifications but are valued at a combined total of US$5 billion. Instead of going off to business school they spent years learning how to run a business the hard way. These are extreme examples, but they all found the most effective way to learn the ropes that worked for them. This, in turn, gave them the experience they needed to succeed, exposing them to the real world, and the realities that came with it. This would have been harder to come by had they completed the traditional route of formal education.

For the rest who choose to go through a different path, it’s important to acknowledge a simple unavoidable truth. Until you reach a certain age you are simply at a natural disadvantage. Due to a lack of experience, you are simply less likely to know the best move to make.

This is ok and in many cases, totally expected.

There are ways to speed up the process somewhat. The internet has made it a lot easier to gain experience at a rapidly advancing rate through online courses. Running a small online business allows you to gain an understanding of distribution and analytics. Owning a blog allows you to improve your writing skills. Combine these with a solid work ethic, and dedication to self-improvement and you will be well on your way to becoming more experienced.

But it takes time.

At the end of the day, you can’t replace experience. While a formal education is undeniably useful, the professional expertise gained through years of industry practice is in much higher demand. It’s the small unteachable things you only gain from years of experience that really make you stand out from the crowd. This is often what we look for in Knowledge Partners when arranging business consultations. Remember, it’s never too early to gain experience and its never been easier