What They Don’t Teach You In Business School

The “entrepreneurial spirit” and straight A’s at Business School are all very nice things to possess–but they will not guarantee you and your start-up company success. While your Business Degree prepared you perfectly for life in the Ivory Tower, your new endeavor is far from requiring a Corporate Headquarters–ivory or any other color. So, in order to navigate the entrepreneurial world, you will need to learn a few lessons that they didn’t teach at Business school.

What They Don't Teach You In Business School

1. Life–and business–are not always fair

The world is an ever-changing, unpredictable, and oftentimes, dizzying place–particularly when you are trying to establish a business footing. And, sometimes, no matter how hard you work or how many contingencies you prepare for, life will hand you a bum hand. Instead of crying “foul” and wallowing in self-pity, learn from your failure and move on.

2. Business school is easier than a real business

Blossoming entrepreneurs do not spend their days analyzing financial data. Instead, they spend endless hours wearing multiple business hats, functioning as the salesperson, the recruiter, the bookkeeper, the marketer, and even the janitor–and, occasionally, they are rewarded with a spreadsheet to look over.

3. You have to deal with people

Being in business means navigating a world filled with other humans–imperfect creatures that they are. You will need to learn to deal with folks from all walks of life in many different capacities. Your employees will possess annoying personality traits and make mistakes from time-to-time, and some of your customers will give you an outright pain in the posterior. But remember that you need them all in order to succeed. And even though you are the mighty CEO with a degree from an Ivy League business school, you will learn valuable lessons by rubbing shoulders with non-business types.

4. Rome–and your business-cannot be built in a day

If you have been dazzled by the overnight success enjoyed by Google or Facebook, you may need a healthy dose of reality. The odds are that your business will not take off like a meteorite. In fact, there will likely be times when it will appear to be sinking like a boulder. Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Scoff at defeatism. And be tenacious. Slow and steady growth wins the race–when it comes to tackling fast rabbits and the business world. Remember, life is not business school.

5. You get paid last

You have to live up to your financial commitments before you write yourself a paycheck–no matter how many hours you’ve put it. This means that you must pay your employees first and, if there is any money left over, you can pay yourself. Yup, the cold hard truth is that there may be months when you don’t get paid at all.

6. You have to “sell” to succeed

Sales at the corporate level is very different from the “selling” required by an entrepreneur. And, while you can learn the mechanics of conducting a sales transaction in the classroom, you cannot teach the innate traits that make a born salesperson. A person either possesses excellent people skills, an intrinsic ability to read people, and a charismatic personality–or they don’t. If you are lacking these traits, you would likely benefit from hiring someone who has all the right stuff.

This does not mean you should torch your bachelor degree in Business. Nor does it mean that your business school education was not “money well spent.” It simply means that no one can master starting their own business without also going through the School of Life and picking up a few invaluable lessons along the way.

What are some of the pitfalls of entrepreneurialism that your Business Degree did not adequately prepare you to handle?

Kimberley Laws
I am a freelance writer, avid blogger, illustrator, and aspiring novelist who thinks the world is a terribly funny place filled with bizarre things to observe--and, of course, comment on.
Kimberley Laws

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