There is a popular notion in India: A degree is must! Yes, I agree, a degree is important in a person’s educational area. But does that degree brings in the lessons essential for starting our own business? Earning a degree is not hard nowadays. But unless you are looking for certain technical skills, college is not always the best place for entrepreneurs.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attend college. It’s just that educational institutes aren’t known for teaching essential startup techniques. The basic skills can be developed by reading entrepreneurship books, but the real skills on how to manage day to day working of your startup can only be learned once you step into it. Following are the lessons that may not have learned in college:
1- Deal with failure
Business schools are all about management and skills. But do they teach us how to deal when we fail? How to get up when we get hit right in front of the face? Naah. Though failure is an inevitable part of startup. Almost all successful entrepreneurs have failed at one point or other. College doesn’t prepare you to fail a class or not landing a job as they all want you to be successful and become esteemed alumni who can donate money. But this does not hold true in startup environment.
2- Raise Money.
Business schools does not teach you to raise money or fund for new business. Raising money is a big task, as investors or banks would want you to present a detailed business plan on how is the product going to evolve in the market and how will they eventually make something extra. You may have to negotiate with your investors or banks in order to come to a conclusion( another skill which is not taught in college)
Once you enter the startup world, you need to have a keen observation on your budget. College doesn’t teach you this. Even if you had extra cash in college, you savoured it. You can’t just savour money in startup. You will have to budget expenses not for the week but for 6 months or a year longer- a skill not taught in college.
4- Pivot if necessary.
In a startup culture you cannot be always stubborn. Sometimes, you need to pivot so as to make a way forward and take advantage. Business is getting familiar with pivoting.
5- Think out of the box.
We keep hearing our lecturer in lecture halls saying “think out of the box” , “come up with something innovative” etc. But do they really teach us? Often in school, there’s a right and wrong answer. But in the startup world, ambiguity rules. Ken Robinson, an author and educator says “If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original” in his Ted talk which has been viewed 27 million times.
6- Build the right network.
College is a place where we connect with our friends but it isn’t the same in business world. Building the right network means knowing the right person for the right job and reaching out to people who may be instrumental in cracking a big deal for you. This is absolutely not something that we learn in college. No matter how tempting it may be to hire friends but they might not be the right people your venture needs. Try reaching out to people who are curious about your idea/product. With the right network of people, the possibilities are endless.
7- Become a salesperson.
As your business is new to the world, marketing is what you need to do. If you wish your startup to be a success(who doesn’t) you need to sell. Market your product to your employees first, investors and clients. But wait a minute, did you learn a salesperson 101 course in college?
8- Mind your health.
You might have spend time in cafeteria or canteen of your college. But back then, staying up late and then bunking lectures occasionally was fine. However, if you are in startup, you and your employees will work for lots of hours. The work style may not be 9 to 5 type, but efforts are relatively more. Therefore, it is not good if you fall sick and reduce your productivity.
9- Become the boss.
If it’s your startup, you are the BOSS. Some people are born leaders. Though every boss is a leader, every leader can not necessarily become a boss. Being a great boss means that you should be able to guide, inspire and even make tough decisions. This is a skill which you will learn as you get along with the business world.
10- Manage your time.
College does not teach you to manage time. Ya, We do enjoy leisure time spend in college. However, this won’t happen in startup. You will have to work efficiently 24/7. There is no free-time for you. So if your friends are enjoying a party don’t be upset about finishing on a business plan , research or meetings with clients/employees. That’s just the nature of the beast.
So tell me, Which of these lessons you learned in college or business school?