6 Business Skills They Didn't Teach You In College Important lessons entrepreneurs must learn if they're going to have a successful business.
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Business classes can only teach you so much about how to run a successful company. The fire of real-world successes and failures are where you really test your mettle. Here are some helpful tips you won't find in any textbook to help you shift your business from surviving to thriving.
1. Find Your Focus.
Entrepreneurs tend to have what I call EADD: Entrepreneurial Attention Deficit Disorder. They are all over the place, they have shiny object syndrome… and that's because they're creative! Entrepreneurs are visionaries. One thing they are often missing, however, is follow-through. If you've got a bakery, you're a business coach and you also make jewelry, where is your passion? Where are you really able to dive deeply in order to see something through to its best outcome? You can certainly build more than one thriving business over your lifetime, but if you're trying to do them all at once, you aren't giving your all to any.
Related: TOMS Founder: 'Focus on Your Passion. Nothing Else Matters.'
2. Don't take "no" for an answer.
When we start planning something really big, we can expect to encounter big resistance -- people telling us it will never work and rejecting our ideas. Stick with it! Don't take "no" for an answer. When people tell you no, or tell you that your idea can't be done, take note that the path you started down hit a roadblock but keep your focus and find a new way forward. Maybe your product does need work. Maybe you're talking to the wrong market. Maybe the packaging isn't right. None of these mean that it won't succeed; it simply means that you have to go back to the drawing board on some aspect of your idea to find that "yes."
Related: 7 Habits of Highly-Effective Entrepreneurs
3. Jump In with both feet.
As entrepreneurs, we have to be willing to go into uncharted territory, to do what others haven't and what they may even be discouraging us from doing. Generally, as humans, we fear change. Our brain is wired to protect us and we get that fight-or-flight response when we encounter something that's out of our comfort zone -- even if it's good for us! We have to be willing to do things that feel risky in order to get the big rewards for ourselves and our businesses. Usually the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward will be. Don't just test the water, Jump in with both feet! If you only "sort of" jump off of the diving board, you'll do a belly flop. The support you need will come, but you have to commit to that initial leap of faith.
Related: 5 Problems Business School Won't Prepare You For
4. Learn to say "no" for yourself.
We've covered how important it is for entrepreneurs to know how to say yes, take leaps of faith and be brave in their decision making, but we also need to learn how to say no. When distractions come your way, such as exciting side projects that pull for your attention, it is important to be able to stay focused on your main goals. Say "no" so that you have more time for "yes" in the area that you most need that energy and creativity to make your goal a success.
5. Forget about perfection.
A lot of business owners get stuck on perfectionism. That is just not how business works. You simply need to move forward, throwing things at the wall to see what sticks and tweaking along the way. Be okay with making mistakes. Otherwise, you will be stuck in the development phase forever and you'll never get your product or service out there. Most successful entrepreneurs have numerous failures before they finally find their ultimate success. The same goes for authors who send out their manuscript to rejection after rejection before finally getting published. Keep moving, and don't give up!
6. Focus on sales.
It can be all too easy to get stuck in a romantic view of your business when you are doing what you love, forgetting about the simple fact that it also needs to be profitable. You have to have enough money to pay for a support team so you're not doing everything from cleaning the office to balancing the books while also trying to generate new leads. You need money to have the freedom to thrive while you are focusing on getting your gifts, ideas and products out there. Point blank, you've got to be focused on revenue every single day.
Try focusing on sales exclusively from 8:30 to 11:30 AM daily. If you have a sales team, they'll be doing this throughout the day, but as the head of your company, you are still the "Chief Convincing Officer." Pick up the phone and call past connections, follow up and show up. Constantly work on building relationships and your sales revenue will improve.