This was my response to the above question on Quora
If you plan to start something of your own some day, get yourself into a job that requires you to sell. Anything. Especially if you are young, try to get into a company where you can get exposed to different aspects of business from close quarters. Keep observing and thinking of how you can improve each aspect that you notice can be improved. Learn from the mistakes made. Absorb the good things done there.
Why do I suggest a job that requires you to sell? Several reasons…
- As an entrepreneur, you will be constantly selling… if not your product/solution, you will be pitching to investors, you will be pleading with high-quality talent to join you, you will be urging vendors to give you credit, etc., etc. You will always be selling. Hence, getting comfortable with selling makes you better prepared for life as an entrepreneur.
- Sales is the part where the rubber hits the road. It makes you aware how hard it is to convince someone to buy something. Even the best things. Learning this first-hand makes you be realistic when you make your business plans.
- A sales job makes you comfortable with rejection. As an entrepreneur you will find many doors closed on your face. A sales job makes you better prepared for it.
Consulting and investment banking, while they will give you exposure to different types of businesses, there will never be much practical, getting-your-hands-dirty kind of learning experience… and that practical experience is very, very useful.
Consulting and investment banking will give you perspectives on what happens in different situations….. and the impact of the strategic directions chosen and implemented. However, each situation is different, and what is right for one situation may not apply as well to others. Also, each individual and team is different, and what will be right for one team may not work for others. Hence, while observing how a client dealt with a tough customer us useful, it may not be of practical use for you if your personality and way of working is very different from that client whose behaviour you observed.
If and when you are infected with an idea that does not get out of you head, and have the conviction to follow it through, go for it and get started. Nothing like learning on the job. As they way, as entrepreneurs, you have to learn to build the plane while you are flying.