The Under-$70 MBA.
Most of you reading this have spent, are in the process of spending, or are about to spend $20,000 – $100,000 on a college degree.
A college degree is supposed to help you make a return on your investment, yet the average student will incur $30,867* in student loan debt. The standard repayment plan for student loan debt is 10-years, but research has shown the average bachelor’s degree holder takes 21 years* to pay off his or her loans.
Despite the stats about student loan debt, I’d go out on a limb and wager that the majority of people reading this article are like me, and believe the education received in college was not worth the time, effort, and money. A college education did not set us up for immediate financial success and worse than that, the experience didn’t help us figure out what we actually wanted to be doing with our lives (passion, purpose, etc).
I don’t believe college is the right option for the majority of people anymore. In fact, I think it’s actually an irresponsible financial decision given the statistics staring us all in the face.
But I digress. Let’s dive into this clickbait title I used to get you to open this article.
By following the steps I’m about to share, I’m extremely confident you can arm yourself with all the knowledge you will need to build a successful business you can actually enjoy investing your time and effort into for the small sum of $64.08.
And yes, you read that correctly: For just $64.08 I want to show you how to gain all the knowledge you’ll need to start doing work that matters (to you and others).
A couple disclaimers before we move forward:
I, just like a college institution, cannot guarantee that by spending any amount of money that you will make money in return.
However, I can guarantee that your investment of $64.08 (which doesn’t go in my pocket by the way) is exponentially easier to pay off than $30,867.
If you don’t actually do the work laid out below, your chances of finding passion, building a profitable business, and having happy customers are about 1 in a 1,000,000.
I have not been paid by anyone to write this article and the recommendations in it are based solely on my 15 years of experience of going to college, working in corporate America, and then spending nearly a decade as a successful entrepreneur.
You are going to have to read four books and then take action on the practical things mentioned in them. This will take you exponentially less time than four years.
Now, let’s dive into how to acquire your very own Under-$70 MBA. Which, is a thing I completely made up (just like we made up going to college).
Step #1: Read Pamela Slim’s Body of Work ($12.73)
This is where you start. If you don’t know what your values are, what you want in life, no amount of money or success in business is going to make you happy. I’ve been there and so have countless others.
Pamela Slim is a wonderfully smart human and has written an actionable guide to discovering exactly what it is you are passionate about. Does that mean you’re going to build a business based on your passion? Probably not. But it will help you define a clear set of values with which you can build a business around so that every decision you make pushes you toward actually enjoying the work you do.
Your values will change. Your passions will change. Your purpose will change. This book will help you start to identify all of those things, and just as important, will help you identify things you aren’t passionate about and don’t want to be doing.
Step #2: Read Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup ($14.96)
Business is not being done the way it’s being taught in the majority of colleges right now. The word “iteration” barely exists in corporate America. If you want to build a business in the digital age we currently live in, this book is required reading.
Eric Ries gives you a framework for understanding how to start and operate a business. He walks you through the principles of using lean methodology to avoid spending a lot of time and money on your ideas. He introduces you to the term “minimum viable product” which is a critical business concept.
I read this book after building multiple businesses and wish I would have read it at the very beginning. It reframes your thinking and helps you truly understand what it means to own and run a startup.
Step #3: Read Kathy Sierra’s Badass: Making Users Awesome ($23.47)
If your business is going to have customers, which every business does, this book will change the way you think about serving the people who spend money on your product or service.
Kathy Sierra is a brilliant woman who has written a no-fluff book that breaks down exactly how you should be talking to your customers and presenting what you sell to them. She includes some eye-opening examples of how to shift the way you think about interacting with your customers.
The advice in this book is timeless. You should always want to make your customers badass and if your products don’t do that, the likelihood of you building a business that will last is very slim.
Step #4: Read Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson’s Rework ($12.92)
Rework is the perfect book to wrap everything together in a nice bow. It’s full of real-talk about running a business, and free of “chase your dreams” propaganda.
Running a business takes work. Running a business takes messing up and learning from your mistakes. Running a business does not take an executive summary and a business plan anymore.
You don’t have to work 8 hours per day (9-5). You don’t have to have years of experience. This book is an excellent practical guide to stop thinking about building a business and to actually start building a business today.
Additional free resource to Rework: David Heinemeier Hansson, one of the authors of Rework, is more well-known and successful than me and recently wrote a fantastic article to back up my points about passion and money.
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The beautiful thing about this Under $70-MBA is that anyone can do it right now. No one has to apply and be accepted to do it.
Whether you’re a 13 year-old aspiring entrepreneur, you’re currently in college, or you’ve been to college and incurred student loan debt, you can do this.
If you’re scoffing at the idea that reading four books can help you build a business you’ll truly love and make you successful, I challenge you to put it to the test. Read these books. Implement the practical lessons in them. Invest a little bit of time and effort.
No one article, book, or piece of advice is going to answer all your questions. Consume the right knowledge for what you’re seeking in life, and enjoy the journey along the way.