I’m not knocking higher education, or any school for that matter, concerning what it can contribute to anyone’s business success. But it certainly is worth noting that some of this century’s most successful business moguls: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and even Madonna do not have a college degree.
So what do these entrepreneurs know about starting and running a business that they didn’t learn in college or business school? And what is it that, likely, most institutions don’t spend a lot of time teaching students?
I attended one year of college and then exited early to start my first business at 22. It was an ad agency I led for nearly 20 years. While I love to learn, I never enjoyed school. I always felt impatient and couldn’t understand how so many core classes would ever be relevant to my life. Even without this formal education, I’ve been fortunate to experience a nice sum of success.
I’ve also worked with highly educated professionals: PhDs, MBAs and MDs, and I’ve been amazed by some missing fundamentals in their work styles and business practices.
These items rise to the top from my experiences and from observing other successful entrepreneurs.
1) Risk is a key factor to business breakthroughs.
No risk, no reward. Entrepreneurs must embrace a level of danger, the uncomfortable zone, and unknown elements to move ahead. Most innovations enter the world as unaccepted, anti-logic, even crazy concepts with high degrees of resistance.
2) All business has political and sport aspects in it.
Look around you, everything you touch has political cause and effects imbedded in it. Egos, competitive genes, and strategic game plans direct the majority of business ventures.
3) Emotional toughness separates the winners from the rest.
No doubt, being smart and creative count in business. But equally as important is one’s emotional toughness quotient. Can you recover from the big mistakes you make, quickly? Can you not let the opinions of others impact you? Can you dismiss the voices in your head from your childhood?
4) Intuition is real and should be trusted.
Intuition is a mysterious thing that happens without a lot of fact, logic, or reason. I believe it occurs as a by-product of your sub conscious awareness and everyday life observations. Ignoring and not trusting this power is dangerous.
5) Packaging, charisma, and confidence matter a lot.
Humans make a lot of judgments and get first impressions by what they see. Whether this is right or wrong, it happens every day. Then people translate these visual messages into associations of strengths or weaknesses. Non-tangible and sometimes not-substantiated communications like charisma and confidence are hugely important in business progress. Every businessperson should invest in all of the above for themselves and for their supporting team members.
6) At least every seventh person you meet with disappoint you.
This number may be a myth. Recently, I’m convinced it’s every fifth person that will disappoint you and is a card-carrying moron. Being a negative skeptic is not the answer. Doing your homework and acknowledging #4 is the secret here.
I’m sure many of you (especially the real entrepreneurs at heart) are thinking these six practices are common sense and natural behaviors. They are, and that’s why they are often overlooked in traditional learning environments.
About the author: Karen Post, a.k.a. The Branding Diva® is an international authority on branding, marketing, and entrepreneurial matters. She has been featured as a business expert in print publications; on TV, radio, and on Web channels. Karen authored the best-selling book Brain Tattoos Creating Unique Brands That Stick in your Customers’ Minds and she is co-founder and CEO of Oddpodz.com.