11 Startup Skills You Won't Learn in School
While some people knock advanced degrees, many entrepreneurs benefit from formal business training. But there are certain things even the best programs don't usually teach (or teach well) that are critical for you to master.
Eleven founders from YEC name the startup skills that only on-the-job experience can equip you with:
1. Startup-Style Leadership
Small teams are a totally different beast than a corporate environment. You have one person filling multiple roles, no clear ladder for advancement, and people who often have to train themselves. Employees in startups need to be much more empowered and forward-thinking than in traditional companies. It's not something that is taught in school.--Laura Roeder, LKR Social Media
2. The Power of Networking
A large part of success in business comes from the people you know and the power of your network. Schools don't talk about growing and cultivating networks or the many facets of networking (actively or passively), but everyone has a network and it would behoove students to learn how to maximize them.
--Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40/Finance Whiz Kids
3. Grit in the Face of Failure
You cannot learn grit in a classroom. Being an entrepreneur is about making the effort to create something from nothing. You can learn theories and best practices in a classroom, but you cannot learn the grit and dedication it takes to see your vision to the end. So much of success is in the willingness to invest 100 percent of your energy in the face of great uncertainty, and to wake up the next day ready to do it again. The path is not smooth and you will take your lumps. Grit is about falling down and getting back up, again and again. You can't learn that in a classroom.--Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Technologies, Inc.
4. The Loneliness of Being a Founder
Not to sound all melancholy here, but being a founder is lonely because all of the bucks stop with you. There is no one to complain to (negative feedback should only go up) and your job is to create solutions and constantly pitch in a positive light. "Never a bad day at a startup," a VC recently told me. That creates a barrier between a founder and the rest of the world around them. It's an interesting challenge, and finding a support system of mentors and advisors is crucial.--Trevor Sumner, LocalVox
5. It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Schools breed ambitious workers who run toward the finish line and try to answer every question right first above all, but this is simply not the best approach in the real world. There will be lessons you only learn by looking back, and there will be long droughts filled with disappointment. Instead of wallowing in that, reassure yourself that you're working toward a larger goal. You're in it for the long haul, and that is more valuable than any short-term victory.--Rob Fulton, Matikis
6. How (and When) to Scale
No school can teach you when it's the right time to expand your business, make new hires, and take on more responsibilities. A lot of the time this will come from a gut feeling and the strategic relationships you have built. No textbook can teach you this skill.--Jason Grill, Grill Media | Sock 101
7. An Effective Sales Process
For all that you learn about marketing, they don't teach you about effective sales. Nobody teaches the process from prospecting to suspecting, to lead development and nurturing, to closing the sale.
--Jon Cline, Rokit SEO
9. Product Design and Creation
You can learn marketing theories and business operation strategies in school, but school can't teach you what to sell. You need to understand how to identify the market and how to create a product that your market will consume. This is very hard to teach, and usually comes into effect by someone stumbling upon it or being in the right place at the right time. I do think it's a great exercise to design MVP products or even just landing pages that are designed to promote an imaginary product. These really bring the product to life and can teach you a lot about what product creation is really all about.--Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com
School by nature is very static, with a built-in roadmap for how to graduate. It does not teach you how to scrap a roadmap and change your destination, as entrepreneurship often dictates. Learning how to adapt is essential to having even a chance at success in being an entrepreneur.--Phil Chen, Systems Watch
11. How to Live With Pressure
In school, the feeling and emotions that accompany stress come and go depending on tests, quizzes, and assignments. You stress, you take the test, then you are free to breathe a sigh of relief. Entrepreneurship is living with the fact that there is no sigh of relief, ever. Instead you learn to live with stress, you acknowledge it, and you learn to cope with it daily. Learning to live with stress and pressure is something no one can teach you but a challenge you have to face and overcome within yourself.
--Kim Kaupe, ZinePak