The hippy movement started in the 1960s as a rebellion against the middle class values of the previous generation. Middle class kids rejected their parents’ vision of the American Dream: Go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, raise a family, work for fifty years, then retire.

The hippies rebelled by letting their hair grow long, dressing in bell bottoms jeans and paisley shirts, and moving into communes. They replaced their parents’ values with their own: Respect for the environment; valuing peace, love, and harmony; the pursuit of happiness; and self determination (i.e., liberation).

I, myself, rejected my parents’ values in the 1970s and began to grow my hair long while in high school. My mom insisted that I tie by hair back for my high school graduation photo so that my grandmother wouldn’t be shocked by my long hair. After graduating high school I decided to travel instead of taking the traditional route of going to college. I hitchhiked around the US West Coast, up into Canada, and down into Mexico—it was a better education than I could have even gotten by going straight to college.

So it is with the modern entrepreneur who has rejected the dogma of the industrial age for the liberation of self-directed enterprise. The industrial age needed employees so it invented the public school system that churned out students with the necessary rudimentary skills. Also, the design of the teacher-pupil relationship mirrored that of the boss-employee and students spent as much time in school as employees did at work.

Many of the information age entrepreneurs have eschewed this traditional route: Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle; Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers; Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, co-founders of Apple; and Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft. These entrepreneurs have been set the example followed by many of today’s new breed of entrepreneurs. As a matter of fact, in today’s economic downturn, many have questioned if college is worth the expense.

So if you want to be an entrepreneur, where do you get your education from? It’s sometimes called, “The School of Hard Knocks.” Aka, “Life.” Go out into the world and try new things. Try your hand at running a business. You can start off small with a business at the local flea market, craft fair, or swap meet. There are ample opportunities online to start your own ecommerce business. Multi-level marketing is a great way to enter into entrepreneurship and gain the experience of mentors and a business system.

There are business books and websites that say you need to get all your ducks in a row and write elaborate business plans. But my experience is that you just need to jump into it and get ready to fail. Only by failing, by experiencing business and life, do we learn. The traditional route of school teaches us the opposite, that to fail is bad. But the truth is that success lies in learning from our mistakes.

I’m not suggesting that anyone drop out of school or quit your job. But I do encourage you to get your feet wet in the world of business in any small way that you can. Start off small with a minimal amount of money. Be ready to fail, and when you do congratulate yourself and accept the fact that failing is part of the learning process, not a reflection on you personally.

Most of all, learn. Read books, blogs, websites, and magazines. Listen to audio books, inspirational speakers, and watch how-to videos.  Join a business club, multi-level marketing, or Toastmasters. Just take that first step, no matter what it is!

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