If you think not attending a business school put you at a disadvantage, then think again. Here are 10 insider startup lessons you won’t learn in business school.
There’s a whole lot to learn about business, investing and entrepreneurship before taking a plunge. And the more you learn and understand, the higher your chances of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
While business school can teach you a huge fraction of what you need to know about business and entrepreneurship, some of the most important lessons that can boost your chances of success are mysteriously absent. Having looked at the curriculum of many business schools and interacting with a good number of business school graduates, I discovered that the following important lessons are missing in business school:
10 Insider Startup Lessons You Won’t Learn in Business School
1. You don’t have to start perfectly
Business school will teach you to make your product as near perfect as possible before launching it. But launching a product before it is perfected can be a smart move in the modern world. This is especially the case with software products, where a delay could cost you a spot in the market.
Customers have become more tolerant of bugs and hitches in the first version of a product, so you won’t really lose if your product attracts a heap of user complaints. You can use those complaints to make your product perfect and start earning money sooner.
2. Networking can be more important than qualifications
This sounds somewhat unfair, but that’s just the way it is. We naturally prefer to work with people we know rather than a stranger. Building up a network of successful people in your industry will open many doors of opportunities for you, since these individuals can offer you help and advice, and inform you about new opportunities. However, relationships are stronger when favor is reciprocal. Always be willing to help people in your network when there is need for that.
3. Failure is inevitable
While business school will teach you a lot about strategic planning, they hardly teach how to face the reality of failure—an inevitable thing in the business world. This explains why many potential investors balk when it comes to working with fresh graduates from business school.
You might have been the best in your class in business school, but your success in the business world hinges largely on how much of failure and other harsh challenges you have experienced and handled.
4. A business plan is usually not necessary
The fact many successful entrepreneurs, including Steve Jobs and Bill Gates built global brands without using a business plan proves beyond doubt that a business plan is not a must. But business school keeps hammering into students the importance of having a business plan.
While a business plan serves as a guide to starting and running a business as well as getting third-party funding, creating it usually takes a lot of time and energy. Unless writing a business plan is necessary, you should channel your time and energy elsewhere in your business.
5. Break the rules at times
The business school will teach you many rules that apply in the business world and the importance of playing by each. But the truth is that most of these rules are not etched in stone and are in fact breakable. In fact, breaking such rules sometimes leads to outstanding successes or helps you gain new insights.
They say rules are meant to be broken. And the business world is one of the best avenues to implement that saying. But the business school won’t advise such.
6. Personal integrity matters most
Although business school teaches some courses on Business Ethics, these courses usually deal with larger, corporate, strategic, and tactical issues. Unfortunately, they leave out personal ethics, which happen to be the single most important thing affecting a person’s business career.
You will never succeed in the business world if you are widely known to be dishonest or fraudulent—no matter how much of Business Ethics you mastered in business school.
7. Cash rules
Teachers in business school spend a lot of time explaining cash flow statements and analyses to students, but usually from a larger corporate perspective. But a more important lesson that every entrepreneur needs to learn—which is not taught in business school—is that the start or success of a business hinges majorly on cash. Remember the golden rule of early stage finance: “the person with the gold makes the rules.”
8. Success doesn’t come fast
Many people go to business school with the erroneous expectation that this will increase their chances of early success in the business world. And worse, business school makes them believe this is true.
While it’s interesting to read in your textbooks how companies like Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and other startups found massive success, many key facts are usually either left out in those books. One of such facts being that these companies went through many episodes of struggle and failure before making headway. There is no formula for success. No matter what business school teaches, the truth is the path to success is slow and rough.
9. Marketing is unpredictable
There are a number of ways to go about your marketing campaigns. And the reason why you have many options is simple: because not all will work. You have no idea which will work and which will not. So, the idea is to experiment broadly to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Business school doesn’t teach this reality.
In fact, you have to keep assessing your marketing strategies for effectiveness because what works today might no longer work for the same business tomorrow.
10. Technology changes the face of business
Business school won’t teach you that to succeed in business you need to keep abreast of latest trends in technology, especially those that affect your business. Ignoring necessary changes in business technology can leave your business behind by miles.