It takes a lot to turn a spark of an idea into a full-fledged business reality – a LOT more than you can learn in textbooks or sitting in a classroom discussing abstract concepts. Call them intangibles – all the stuff that simply can’t be taught, but must be learned in order to succeed as an entrepreneur.
7 Things They Don’t Teach You in Business School
#1: Confidence – The one word you will hear a lot when you first get started is “No.” “No that will never work”, “No, unfortunately we awarded the contract to another company”, “No you can’t do it THAT way.” A thousand “No’s” before you get a “Yes”. The confidence to stick it out until you get there is critical!
#2: Improvisation – The same intangible ability to take bubble gum, a paper cup and a straw, and turn it into something to entertain a fussy 3-year-old comes in darn handy when the expensive techno-thingie mysteriously breaks and the not-in-the-least-bit-helpful manual does not include a chapter on the particular glitch you (and only you) managed to undercover. Go MomGyver!
#3: Gusto – The indescribable ability to get it done – whatever IT may be or whatever it may require you do. It’s everything and anything from casually pulling out a business card at a PTA meeting in order to land a new client to getting an A-list blogger to cover your story through sheer force of will.
#4: Mindreading – Call it what you will, but essentially all marketing is a form of mindreading. Business school only covers the technical aspects of it, but what you really need to understand is how your customers think and what buttons will get a response. From there, all that fancy-shmancy tracking and testing works wonders.
#5: Intuition – There are lots of opinionated people out there who are more than happy to share their opinion on the direction you should be taking your business in. Sometimes their advice is helpful, other times it’s a costly lesson on why you should trust your gut (and not the so-called experts).
#6: People Whispering – This is a multi-purpose skill that comes in handy for dealing with annoyed customers, potential joint venture partners and members of your corporate team. It’s the ability to get people to march to the beat of your drum, that special entrepreneurial charisma that attracts people to you (and your rather abstract start-up project).
#7: Selling Savvy – Without the ability to close the deal, win the bid, negotiate the contract, get the customer to buy, you don’t have a business. What you have is an expensive hobby. Learning how to bring in the business, even if you plan on outsourcing it down the road, is essential to your success with a capital E (with sparkly stars around it).