An “entrepreneurial spirit” and straight A’s in Business School are great things to have–but they won’t guarantee you and your startup success. While your Business Degree perfectly prepares you for life in the Ivory Tower, your new venture is far from requiring a Corporate Headquarters–ivory or any other color. So, to explore the world of entrepreneurship, you will need to learn a few subjects that are not taught in Business schools.
1. Life–and business–is not always fair
The world is an ever-changing, unpredictable and often confusing place – especially when you are trying to build a foothold in your business. And, sometimes, no matter how hard you work or how many possibilities you prepare for, life will give you a hard time. Instead of crying “foul” and feeling sorry for yourself, learn from your failures and move on.
2. Business school is easier than real business
Thriving entrepreneurs don’t spend their days analyzing financial data. Instead, they spend hours wearing many business hats, serving as salespeople, recruiters, bookkeepers, marketers, and even cleaners–and, every now and then, they’re rewarded with spreadsheets to look at.
3. You have to deal with people
Being in business means navigating a world filled with other humans—imperfect creatures. You will need to learn to deal with people from all walks of life in various capacities. Your employees will have annoying personality traits and make mistakes from time to time, and some of your customers will offend you right away. But remember that you need them all to succeed. And even though you’re a mighty CEO with a degree from an Ivy League business school, you’ll learn a valuable lesson by associating with non-business types.
4. Rome—and your business—can’t be built in a day
If you’ve been blown away by the overnight success enjoyed by Google or Facebook, you may need a healthy dose of reality. Chances are your business will not take off like a meteorite. In fact, there will likely be times when it will appear to sink like a boulder. Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Scoff at defeat. And tenacious. Slow, steady growth wins the race–in terms of dealing with fast rabbits and the business world. Remember, life is not a business school.
5. You get paid last
You must meet your financial commitments before you write your own paycheck – no matter how many hours you have put it in. This means you have to pay your employees first and if you have any money left over, you can pay yourself. Yup, the hard truth is that there may be months when you don’t get paid at all.
6. You have to “sell” to succeed
Selling at the corporate level is very different from the “selling” that an entrepreneur requires. And while you can learn the mechanics of making a sale in class, you can’t teach the traits that made a salesperson born. Someone has excellent people skills, an intrinsic ability to read people, and a charismatic personality – or not. If you don’t have any of these traits, you will likely benefit from hiring someone who has all the right pieces.
This doesn’t mean you have to burn yours Bachelor’s degree in Business. Nor does it mean that your business school education wasn’t “money well spent.” It just means that no one can master starting their own business without going through the School of Life and picking up some valuable lessons along the way.
What are some of the entrepreneurial pitfalls that your Business Degree did not adequately prepare you to handle?