If there is one thing every business owner or Entrepreneur agrees, its that Universities & Business school's won’t teach you everything you need to know about starting and running a successful, sustainable business.
Universities & Business schools are great for teaching you to communicate effectively, how to negotiate and understand the foundations of running a business, it isn’t until you start running a business that you realise there are significant gaps in what you know.
Here’s what we’ve learned as business and what our clients have experienced about building successful businesses.
Plans aren’t everything.
It’s seems counterintuitive, but over-planning can kill your business before its even started. From the start of your business you’ll be pivoting and adjusting based on how your customer perceives, uses and buys from your business.
Business courses like to treat every new business idea like a massive venture that can be completely planned for. “Want to start a business? Create a business plan, determine your product-market fit, calculate breakeven, etc”
The truth is, a lot of this will become more clear as you test and first bring your service and/or products to market. The most important thing is to execute your idea and get a proof of concept into the market and potential customers, instead of trying to plan every single aspect of your business to perfection. Planning gives you a great foundation but it shouldn’t consume all of your time at the beginning because your plans will likely have to change. Excessive planning before execution is usually just hesitation or fear.
Starting a new business will require you to “figure things out as you go.” While business courses will emphasise the importance of funding, hiring and scaling, starting a business means making the most of the few resources you have.
The reality is most successful companies today started out very scrappy, and from zero. They didn’t really have a plan, they didn’t lease a space, nor did they stick with their original idea in some cases.
Your success will depend a lot on how scrappy you can be and how you can make the most out of the resources and tools available to you right now. Even if this means launching with a minimum viable product to test the market before trying to get the funding, staff or resources you think you need.
How best to measure success.
With so much emphasis on planning and strategic decision-making, it’s kind of ironic how little business courses cover in setting goals and reverse engineering what you want.
Most entrepreneurs know what they want to do, but they don’t really know how to do it. By setting goals & objectives it makes it easier to determine how to get there since you can reverse-engineer from where you want to be.
Goals will keep you accountable, including everyone on your team. Aligning your goals and with those of your team avoids any conflicts in motivation or conflicts of interest.
Increasing your Creativity.
Entrepreneurs need to channel their creativity often, whether you need to come up with unique solutions to your customer’s problems or find that great business idea.
Creativity is very hard to teach, so it’s no wonder this is something lacking in most business courses. Business courses do teach systems and rules which is great because they show you the parameters you’ll work within as an entrepreneur and how to make the most of them.
Creativity is about working outside those parameters, thinking outside the box. As an entrepreneur, sometimes the best solution isn’t the most obvious one. Sometimes it requires an inspired solution.
When you think about some of the most famous cases of companies succeeding despite the odds, or the most well-received marketing campaigns, there’s usually a lot of creativity behind it, not a cookie-cutter formula taught in a business courses.
But that inspiration often comes from trying new things, making mistakes and learning from others. And that kind of experience gets fast-tracked when you’re an entrepreneur.
Marketing is dynamic.
Many courses are finally starting to improve their marketing classes to fit in with the digital age, but you’d be surprised how far behind a lot of the marketing education still is.
As an entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to stay in the loop on the current trends in digital marketing, as well as the tactics that work right now. You only need to understand the basics because you can work with agencies to support you which will be more time effective and a greater impact.
A lot of the fundamental marketing principles business courses teach are still useful and relevant. However, it’s crucial to your success that you have an understanding of things like pay per click advertising, search engine optimization, and email marketing, as a starter.
Check out our Marketing section of our blog for more ideas and insights, we can also help you with digital marketing support so that you can free up time for other business activities.
Business courses are designed to teach students not to fail, heck, the whole school system teaches students not to fail from a very young age. Business schools/universities teach students to be more risk-averse than risk-taking. Courses are designed to have students work within a set of rules. This is the opposite of being an entrepreneur and running a business.
Running a business means failing, a lot! Entrepreneurship is about taking calculated risks, it involves thinking outside the box and creating an unconventional path.
Failure should be seen as part of the learning process. Because students are discouraged from failing, they never see the value of failure as a way of learning.
Any roadblock or challenge you encounter as a business owner shouldn’t be perceived as a dead end. Instead, it may simply mean you need to push forward in a different direction.
Ask for help.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, business mentors are a great way to gain help from using other Entrepreneurs experience and as a sounding board for ideas or challenges. We have a section on this website about business mentoring and the benefits.
Purple Yak offer several services for start-ups and younger businesses, please check out our services section to find out more and if you have any questions you need guidance on please don’t hesitate to contact us.