There has long been a debate regarding the dominating influences involved in success in various endeavors, including in business. Whether some people have an innate feeling for a particular topic or activity or it is entirely a matter of environmental factors will probably never be adequately resolved. In many instances, it is probably a product of both natural intelligence and environment or education. What is known with absolute certainty is that some people are born with certain talents – Mozart, Michael Jordan, Michelangelo, Babe Ruth – while others can devote their entire lives to an activity, for example, musical composition, and never produce a quality product. In that sense, it can logically be argued that there is such a thing as “business intelligence.” Some people – Warren Buffett, for example – seem to have a “gift” for making the right decisions. Even the Warren Buffetts of the world, however, almost always require training and/or education in their chosen field. Understanding the basic concepts of establishing and running a business, including assessing markets and creating supply and distribution networks, requires the use of textbooks along with practical experience gleaned from working low-level positions in various types of companies.
As with other academic fields, there is a hierarchy among business schools. Applicants accepted into the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, or into Harvard’s Business School, are more likely to possess an innate understanding of economics and finance than their compatriots attending less prestigious schools. Now, having said that, many successful businesspeople would concede that luck does sometimes play a role in that success. Making the right decision is a product of knowledge and experience, but in an evolving market, there may also be an element of serendipity. Accurately anticipating radical changes in a market, for example, evolving tastes among consumers or a previously unseen demand for a new consumer technology, is a product of business acumen, but the factors that enter into that equation include all the elements mentioned: knowledge, experience and luck.