Business schools can teach you many great lessons. You may also have a world-class curriculum and brilliant professors who will guide you through the entire learning process.
However, the truth is no school can teach you everything. Chances are you will meet many unexpected challenges that require you to simply put yourself out there and face it head-on.
As the old saying goes, “Experience is a hard teacher”. However, it can also be an excellent teacher that helps you take on real-world problems.
That being said, here are 12 essential lessons you can learn outside the classroom.
1. Be a Leader
Out of the 100 best-performing CEOs in the world, less than a quarter have MBAs. This goes to show that educational qualifications do not necessarily make an individual a better leader.
Rather, good leaders are those who motivate, guide, and inspire those around them. Besides being experts in their own fields, they understand what makes people tick and how to unleash their employee’s full potential.
These are things that simply can’t be learned in a classroom setting.
Related Article: What Defines Great Leadership
2. Build Your Own Path to Success
Everyone walks a different path, and there is no fixed formula for success. No one – not even a teacher or the richest billionaire – can give you a definite template to realize your dreams. As such, only you can figure out your path to success.
Having a wide network and good relationships are key aspects of every successful business. As such, to be successful, you need to develop polished interpersonal skills and form bonds with different people.
This will help widen your professional circle, get you to all the right places, and open various doors of opportunities.
Related Article: Build Your Network by Growing Your Email List
4. Communicate Effectively
Building on the previous point – if you want to meet the right people and go to the right places, you must learn to communicate well.
The ability to get your message across is crucial in various stages of business discussions, e.g., introducing your product/service, negotiations, and finally – sealing the deal.
Furthermore, effective communication is an important tool that builds good working relationships and boosts team morale. Generally speaking, communication is one of the most important skills you must master. Yet, this is a topic not always covered in business school.
5. Form a New Business
While it is true that business school teaches you the general process of starting a new business (i.e., researching, formulating a plan, creating a budget, picking a business structure, etc.), there are many, many other things it can’t cover.
These include finding the right investors, raising capital, and making that crucial first sale. You will not find any textbooks with fixed instructions on these milestones – getting them right is up to you.
Related Article: How to Raise Startup Capital?
6. Hire the Right Team
Onboarding the right people is a challenging task. While human resource managers can help refine the process and narrow down the candidate list, there are many variables involved in finding the right person. Half the time, these variables are a combination of timing, trial and error, and luck.
7. Marketing in a digital world
We live in a technologically driven world where digital trends involving new applications, analytics, and algorithms are introduced at an incredible speed. Business school just can’t catch up with these changes. As such, you and your business will have to constantly reinvent new marketing strategies to cope with the ever-evolving phases of digitization.
Related Article: 31 Marketing Tips to Grow Your Business
8. Emotional Intelligence
It is no secret that students with high Intelligent Quotient (IQ) thrive in schools. However, the ability to understand and manage your own feelings, state of mind, and emotions i.e., Emotional Quotient (EQ), is arguably an even more important aspect of human intelligence to have.
A person with high EQ not only have control over their own emotions, but they are also often perceptive and empathetic of others’ feelings as well. This skill helps them interact well with business partners and employees and relate to their customers even more. In the business world, such an aptitude can be more valuable than having pure book smarts.
9. Taking risks
As a controlled environment with highly regulated and predictable programmes, schools cannot teach you to feel comfortable with taking risks. Weighing the opportunities and potential failure often involves personal factors. Thus, a degree will not cover these aspects unique to you – and they certainly cannot tell you what to do and how to react if a risk you took does not pay off.
10. Finding ideas that disrupt
Most aspiring entrepreneurs desire to generate an idea that disrupts their industry, resulting in a revolutionary change that leaves their competitors in awe.
However, few rarely do so. Inventing a disruptor is a manual with defined steps that are near impossible to follow. Many business schools will gladly share the steps to industry disruption: Identify a problem and find a solution that adds value to the consumers affected by the said problem.
This sounds easy – generally speaking, it is a two-step guide. However, to actually execute this plan and break the status quo is an incredibly difficult task that only a small minority will accomplish.
Related Article: Three Ways to Come up with a Good Business Idea
11. Hone your instincts
Intuition is an intangible thing. An intuitive person sometimes senses that they need to make certain decisions, but they cannot explain why. While this does not mean you should ignore suggestions others make, trusting your gut can be a highly-useful ability to have.
Being intuitive is a result of you subconsciously processing the information around you; it could also be derived from years of experience. Either way, these are things you learn as you go and not lessons that can be found in the classroom.
12. Real-world experience
To determine your level of performance, school assessments are a combination of exams and tests that include essays, structured presentations, case studies, research questions, and other hypotheticals.
However, the truth is these cannot replace the lessons you will learn from real life. In the business world, there will be wins and losses, numerous factors and variables, and challenges in unimaginable shapes and forms. To master these aspects, you have to bravely navigate the harsh business world and simply put yourself out there.
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