Business Lessons You Can’t Learn in the Classroom

Going to school and getting your degree in business is certainly a great idea. You’ll learn a lot about the nuts and bolts of running a business. You’ll learn the ins and outs of starting a business, the legal issues involved, ways of handling employee difficulties, and much more. It’s definitely worth the time and cost involved if you plan on starting your own business. However, while you’ll learn a lot in these classes, there are some things you won’t learn from a professor or textbooks. These lessons are just as important. Here are ten things that you’ll learn along the way instead of in a classroom.

1.How to Lead Small Businesses

Leading a large corporation is actually very different than leading a small business. If you’re using your business degree to start your own company, you’ll soon see that there’s not a lot in common with giant businesses that have multiple departments. Most of your employees are going to be wearing multiple hats, and there may not be a clear chain of command or of advancement. You’re going to need to be more flexible and allow your employees to do more than their base jobs.

2.Networking

Networking is much more important than many classes let on. In fact, some business experts say it’s possibly the most important part of running a business. You have to have a strong network of vendors, customers, peers, and other business owners. This type of network will help you gain contacts, forge partnerships, and get the best deals on materials. If you’re not creating a network every step of the way, you risk being left alone.

3.Learning Willpower 

As listening to many motivational speakers will teach you, a large amount of getting through life is simply having the determination and willpower to continue moving forward. These speakers can be a great source of motivation for you, and they can remind you of why you started your own business in the first place. Until you’re out there running a company, you’re not really going to learn this type of determination. Once you do, you’ll understand exactly what these speakers are talking about. You have to be determined to succeed every single day, even in the face of failure.

4.You’re the End of the Chain

When you’re working for someone else or in school, there’s always someone you can go to for advice, help, or to pass on a decision. When you’re the business owner, though, there is no one further up the chain of command. You’re it. That can become incredibly lonely. You may feel a separation from your employees because of it, especially if you have to make decisions about who to keep and who to fire when the budget gets tight. It’s hard, which is why you need to cultivate relationships with other business owners and mentors. 

5.You’re in it for the Long Term

While in the classroom, you’re often looking at short-term deadlines. There’s a paper due in a month. The final is about three months from the start of the course. Even completing your graduate MBA is only a couple of years away. As a business owner, though, you have to look at a much larger time frame. You’re running a marathon, not completing a short sprint. You need to adjust your way of thinking so you’re looking far enough ahead to make the correct decisions.

6.Knowing When to Grow Your Business

While your classes may discuss growing your business and signs to watch for, they can’t tell you exactly when the right time to expand is. That’s because every business is unique. You have to listen to your gut and expand when you feel like it’s the right time. Yes, looking at your income, your expenses, and your established partnerships can help, but when it comes down to it, scaling your business is a risk, and you have to do it when it feels right.

7.Learning How to Close the Sale

Again, this is something that really comes down to intuition. You can learn about the sales process and techniques for making sales, but developing leads into paying customers often requires you to trust your feelings. Some customers may not respond to hard sales pitches, while that’s what it takes to get others to consider your offer. You’ve got to learn how to read people and interpret what they’re saying, and that’s not something that you can get out of a textbook.

8.What Products to Sell

Consumer trends often change, and there’s no magic formula that tells you what’s going to sell and what isn’t. Yet again, this area is really all about intuition. If you have a gut feeling that a product will sell, go with it. It might turn out to be a failure, but that’s something you have to learn on your own. You’ve got to get a feel for the market and for what your customers are going to want. You will likely fail a few times, but that’s really the only way you can learn this skill. It’s frustrating, but figuring out your market is one of the biggest challenges you have to overcome when you start a business. 

9.Being Able to Adapt

Learning how to adapt isn’t really something that can be learned or even tested that well in school, but it’s a necessary skill that all business owners must-have. If that product you thought was a great idea turns out to bomb, you have to be flexible enough to change your business’s direction quickly and with little hesitation. Learning to adapt to a new plan is vital for succeeding in today’s business world.

10.Living with Pressure and Stress

You may think you know what stress is when you’re in school, but the stress you feel is really only temporary. You know you’ll get a break when that paper is turned in, the test is over with, and the semester ends. In the real world, those breaks don’t exist. You’ll finish one project only to launch right into another one. Owning a business involves being under stress all the time. You have to learn how to cope with that stress in a healthy way. If you don’t, you’re likely to collapse.

While you can’t learn these ten skills in the classroom, you can learn them once you’re out in the real world running your own business. If you learn these lessons quickly, you’re likely to succeed.

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