Five Things Your Business Degree Will Not Teach You About Business
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After taking a few entrepreneurship courses in college, and speaking to friends who have gotten both undergraduate and graduate business degrees – it is clear that business school teaches you a lot of things – but how many of those things are actually applicable to running an early-stage business are up for debate. Though what you learn in business school obviously depends on a number of factors like what courses you take, who your professors are, who your classmates are, and which school you go to – here is my take on what I think business schools don’t teach you about entrepreneurship, but should.
How To Hire and Manage People
People management, in my opinion, is equally if not more important than business management. If you hire the right people for your key roles, and keep them motivated and happy, there is a good chance they will contribute significantly to helping you meet your objectives. But, if you are unable to attract and retain talent – you’ve got a problem. Understanding how to write a great JD, figuring out whether a candidate is a go-getter, or ascertaining how they will gel with your team can only be honed through conducting many, many interviews. Likewise, understanding how to motivate people to do their best work through a mixture of leadership, purpose, culture, incentives, and salary is also not something that is taught in school - but should be.
Regulations, Permissions, and Red Tape
When I first incorporated The Wedding Brigade, my mind was swimming with acronyms: MOA, AOA, IEC, COI, TDS, PF and more. It is so incredibly important to be abreast of all of the taxes and regulations that are applicable to your company, and a handy checklist just isn’t provided in business school. My solution? Set up a meeting with an accountant and a company secretary, stat!
How To Raise Money (And Make a Great Deck)
Raising money is equal parts art and science, and at an early stage, I would argue it is more art than science. This means that though learning how to build discounted cash flows could be helpful later, attracting investors in the early stages is all about your pitch – how clearly can you describe the problem you want to solve? How is your product either a completely different solution, or at least 5-10x better than the current solution? What are your marketing and distribution channels and how will they give you an edge? What is your team like? And how do you make all-of-the-above look really pretty in 10 slides or less? I haven’t seen a class on PowerPoint skills in business school, but gosh would that be helpful!
How To Plan When Things Are Uncertain
A lot of case studies in business school focus on problems businesses face when they are at least a couple of years (or decades) old – whether they should abandon a cash cow and pursue a new, better product that could jeopardize short-term sales, whether they should enter a new market, or how they can shave 10% off their costs. However, in the earliest stages of building a business, entrepreneurs are operating with almost no information. It is extremely hard to plan what your cost of customer acquisition will really be, or what salary your Head of Sales will really demand – and even a small difference in expected vs. actual costs can significantly reduce runway. Learning how to make decisions and assumptions when you have extremely little data in business school is a skill early-stage entrepreneurs would benefit from every day on the job.
How To Manage Your Mental and Emotional Well Being
Managing your mental and emotional well being as an entrepreneur is probably one of the topics that come up least, but needs to come up the most. Being an entrepreneur is really, really hard – and in the early stages, you have a lot more rejections than celebrations. Being able to motivate your team and focus on the need of the day when something else you really needed to happen is falling apart, requires grit, unwavering belief, and crocodile-thick skin. Finding ways to calm your mind and emotions, stay focused, and fully release the frustration you are feeling so that you can actually relax on your time off, are all integral skills of entrepreneurship. Discovering how to maintain your inner calm in business school will lead to happier, focused, and more effective entrepreneurs.
For the few people who got through this article and thought – “I learned all of this in business school!” – please do all the readers a favor and leave a comment with the name. For the rest of you who actually related to this article, I believe that the best preparation for starting your own business is working within a larger company you admire. You will have a first-row seat to employer / employee relations, market challenges, dealing with regulation, and also what to do when the wifi isn’t working. When you run your own business in the future, you will find that you have a bank of references to draw from when making decisions. And if you can’t wait to get started but are still in school, do lots of internships– The Wedding Brigade