In a word: read.
I once had an argument with someone who didn’t want to read business books because ‘they all contradict each other, proving they don’t know what they’re talking about.’ I think that’s the wrong perspective; there isn’t one right answer you’re going to find in the one right book.
Every business does the same things:
- Product: Make something / offer a service
- Sales: Get people to buy it
- Admin: Maintain the books, pay taxes, etc.
Yet every business does these things in a different way. What you need is a mental toolbox. You need to have seen thousands of scenarios and heard what options there were, what choices others made, and what happened.
Then, when you are running your own business, and a slightly familiar yet somehow slightly different scenario comes up, you can reach into that toolbox and extract the right tools to address your situation.
Reading broadly puts tools in your toolbox.
Business history, biography, and general business books were an invaluable part of my business education. Other CEOs may prefer other genres. But as a rule, ‘leaders are readers.’