No disrespect to higher education. Don't get me wrong, I believe in getting a University degree and I do have my degree in business and economics. But, who exactly said that you have to go to business school to start a business? I started my first business before I went to University and kept it going all through my University career - difficult and crazy, yes, but there have been thousands of businesses started by entrepreneurs who launched a business without ever earning a diploma.
That’s not saying that business school is a waste of time and money. It just means that there’s a lot of things that you won’t learn about entrepreneurship in the classroom. And, here are five of those lessons.
1. You don’t have to be perfect to be successful
I love this picture that Nick Petri paints in Business2Community;
“Most entrepreneurship case studies go something like this: Superstar CEO comes up with a fantastic and totally original idea, assembles a crack team with awesome experience in just the right field, builds the perfect product and go-to-market strategy to tackle the problem, and dominates the market.”
I can tell you from personal experience that this is rarely the scenario. Startups have flaws. And, that’s actually a good thing. It means that we make mistakes, learn from those mishaps, and grow - and the next time around we are able to do everything better because we learned on the last venture. This process makes us stronger and adaptable.
Besides, while your competitors are focused on creating the perfect product, you’re the pioneer who already has your product on the market, which means that you’re making money to put back into the business as well.
2. How to work with people in other fields
Think back to your college days. How often did you interact with students in other majors? Unless you were in the same social circle, you didn’t see too many math majors hanging out with history majors.
While that may have been acceptable in school, it won’t float in the business world. As a startup you have to work with a variety of people who have a variety of skills. Whether it’s a UX designers, product manufacturer, social media manager, or accountant, you have to learn how to communicate with these individuals on many levels so that everyone understands each other's roles.
This is why the most successful entrepreneurs are known for constantly learning. You don’t have to become an expert. But at least you and the person who is the expert can talk to each other so that you can make your business a success.
3. Choosing the right co-founder
Here’s a reality check for the cocky and inexperienced entrepreneur; you’re not Superman. And even if you believe that you are, even Supes needed the Justice League from time-to-time.
In other words, you simply can’t run the show all on your own. That’s why it’s imperative that you bring in a co-founder. And, since you’re going to be spending a lot of time with this person, you have to make sure that it’s a match made in Heaven - pretty much in about the same way as how you pick the right individual to marry.
Look for co-founders who compliment your skills, personality, and have the experience. Most importantly, find someone that you actually enjoy being around.
4. Nurturing innate leadership abilities
“Most entrepreneurs feel they have innate leadership talents, but struggle with how to nurture these abilities and measure their effectiveness,” writes Marty Zwilling in Forbes. To make matters worse, these abilities are hardly ever taught in any classroom.
However, you can learn these skills on your own by taking the following steps;
- Be authentic by being honest and self-aware.
- Start with a vision, share it with others, and execute it.
- Practice critical thinking skills.
- Build and nurture the right team.
- View your business as a customer by asking for their feedback.
- Make sure that everyone is coached or mentored.
- Practice leadership by walking around and through the office.
- Make time for solutions.
- Controlling your emotions.
5. How to live with pressure
“In school, the feeling and emotions that accompany stress come and go depending on tests, quizzes, and assignments. You stress, you take the test, then you are free to breathe a sigh of relief,” says Kim Kaupe, co-founder of ZinePak.
“Entrepreneurship is living with the fact that there is no sigh or sign of relief, ever. Instead you learn to live with the stress, you acknowledge it, and you learn to cope with it daily. Learning to live with stress and pressure is something no one can teach you but a challenge you have to face and overcome within yourself.”
Of course, learning to live with stress is easier said than done. You can have do small things like doing one thing at a time, being physically active, staying organized, and scheduling less activities as well as taking time to take and vacation and get adequate rest to become a less stressed person.
You won't learn most of these lessons in a business school, but that is not a good reason not to incorporate these practices into your life now. Almost anything that you need to know to run a business you can read and learn about on the Internet nowadays. Take advantage of the great gift of the Internet whether you have been to business school or not.