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5 Business Secrets They Won't Teach You in the Classroom

June 27, 2013
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226932

At graduation, it's important to remember one thing: College is only the beginning.

As you walk up to accept your diploma and move your tassel from one side to the next, you will join many friends, colleagues and family members who have similarly moved up through the ranks of higher education. And while graduation calls for celebration, the realities of the real world should soon set in -- that is, the truths college never taught you.

Before launching your company, here are five secrets your professors likely didn't teach you in the classroom:

1. College is chaotic, business is methodical.
The tortoise and the hare isn’t about speed, it’s about focus. While regurgitating information twice a semester during finals week got your through college, it isn't going to cut it anymore. You can't cram your way through your startup. You need to slow down the frantic pace, have a more even-keeled schedule and strategy. Keeping your nose to the grindstone will help fine tune your managerial and overall business skills. Remember, becoming a successful entrepreneur is a marathon, not a sprint.

2. Your major is more than book knowledge.
One of the most honest insights I discovered from an English professor friend was her explanation of what the students got out of her class. She believed that, while English wasn't necessarily a circuitous major for a career, it was an opportunity to learn how to express yourself. College teaches you useful skills, but it is up to you to take it the next level.

Related: Attention College Treps: The 10 Best Cities to Live After Graduation (Infographic)

3. Don't brush off your electives.
It may seem like college electives were arbitrary and primarily used as an excuse to take Yoga 101. But these courses actually gave you credit for learning about areas outside your core classes and discovering different parts of yourself. If you found an unusual class, philosophy or club that piqued your interest, by no means forget about it. Take what you learned into the real world and apply it to your startup.

4. Group projects are productive.
I'm sure you are accustomed to dead weight in group projects -- the people that do nothing but get the exact same grade as the hustlers. Don't fret, you can turn this experience into a positive one through hiring the right people. Hire smart and use individual strengths for a stronger group. Good leadership means being able to form teams according to both compatibility and complementary skills. Use your negative group experiences to build better and more effective teams.

Related: 10 Habits College Entrepreneurs Should Forget at Graduation

5. You don’t have to pay for knowledge
College is a great place to learn, but one of the most important aspects to realize about entrepreneurship is that it demands continuous learning. In other words, school isn't over, as continuing your education and personal growth is vital. The best way to do this is by reading, getting involved with your community and seeking advice from others. If you’re strapped for time, invest in some audiobooks and learn something new while you make your commute.

What important lessons did you learn after graduation that you wish they taught you in college? Let us know in the comments below.