5 CRITICAL Business Lessons That College Forgot to Teach Us

We go to college with aspirations of becoming President & CEO of a company.  We study business.  We study marketing.  We just study, and study, and study.  We all have that one economics class that assigns us that group project to go build a company from scratch and watch it grow over the course of the class.  Eventually, we graduate and go into the world of entrepreneurship.  However, we enter that world unprepared.  

I asked 9 of my closest CEO friends to list their top 5 lessons they would teach if they were to teach a course on Small Business Entrepreneurship.  Here are theirs answers:  

1. Budget.
In college, your budget decisions were spun around food, entertainment, and school supplies. If you had extra money, you splurged; if you were low on money you ate fast food for the next three weeks.

A Business won’t be as forgiving.

The ability to read and understand a balance sheet or a profit and loss sheet is critical. You need the ability to plan for the next 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, and 24 months. During that planning, you need payroll, operating expenses, daily expenses, and unforeseen expenses.
A slight change for managing your college budget…..

2. Customer Service.
College students deal with teachers, counselors, deans, teacher aids, and fellow students. In theory, all of these people are there to help you through the process.

A Business won’t be as helping.

The ability to take a beating from a client and continue to find ways to “make it work” are vital for your business to bloom. How do you react to a customer who will always be wrong and be able to pivot the situation to make it appear as though they are always right?

3. Network. Network. Network.
Your engagement with your dorm buddy, drinking buddy, roommate, or test cheating buddy is not the same as your interaction with the world of business. These people were crucial to your success in college, sadly, they won’t matter when you are struggling with your Business.

A Business is not a college reunion.

As much as we love Joe, the former roommate – he is not right for your new Business. Prepare yourself to create meaningful relationships with the right people who can help move you along the corporate walk. Get the right people in your corner, possibilities become endless.

4. Salesperson(ship)
The only thing you ever sold in college was your used textbooks and that one report about your fictitious business plan and how you plan to become the next Business tycoon.

A Business won’t sell itself until you do.

Here is who you sell to: Everyone.

People need to buy into your company mission. People need to buy into your solution. You sell the ideas and vision to your employees. You sell the vision to your clients. You sell the vision to anyone who will listen. Sell. Sell. Sell. Over time, the experience you gain from this process will allow you to read and anticipate client’s needs in order to get them hooked onto your Business.

5. Time Management. Productivity.
In college, you got to pick that 11:15am class to allow you to sleep in. You got to get off school at 2pm so you could make it to your part time afternoon job.

A Business won’t allow you the luxury of a schedule.

Free time will not exist. You work 24x7x365.

You will have those friends who will make fun of you when you are still working at 10pm while they are out at the bar watching the local baseball team drop another game. You will have friends who will disown you because you are ALWAYS working. It will be completely normal to work on a business proposal or finish one more invoice before you call it a night. Welcome to owning a Business and the title of CEO.

What business lesson would you want to see added to a college curriculum? 

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