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Ten Things You Can’t Learn In Business School

By Vahe Tirakyan
| 9/10/2021
6 min read

Business schools teach you the importance of planning, strategizing, making intelligent choices and investing your money the right way. But, running a successful business requires more than just technical skills. I find that it’s not uncommon for graduates to struggle with adaptability, creativity, empathy and problem-solving.

In fact, I dropped out of college to start my first two companies and then went back to business school later. It was then that I realized there were all these crucial skills that I’d picked up “on the job” that were never taught in school. Business school graduates may think that they’re prepared to hit the ground running, but there’s really so much more to learn than what you get from lectures and textbooks.

Here’s a list of 10 out-of-the-classroom skills and lessons that contribute to entrepreneurship.

1. Good Grades Can Only Get You So Far

It may or may not be surprising, but getting good grades isn’t everything for running a successful business. Sometimes achieving good grades requires you to conform to a specific way of thinking, limiting your creativity.

MORE FOR YOU The Customer Of The Future Wants Connection And Progress In the race to get good grades, business students may find themselves competing rather than collaborating. Healthy competition can be good for keeping businesses on their feet. But, collaboration can lead to more holistic outcomes, like a stronger team dynamic.

2. Emotional Intelligence

Most people equate intelligence with academia, but the truth is that there is much more to intelligence than having a high IQ. Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is considered a necessary skill, but for some reason, it isn’t taught in business schools.

Entrepreneurs with high emotional intelligence can leverage empathy and social skills to build strong relationships in the workplace and with clients. You can win people over with compassion, communication and effective conflict resolution. But developing these muscles requires you to understand and manage emotions in a positive way.

3. How To Communicate Effectively

Good communication skills can mean the difference between sealing a deal or breaking it almost completely.

Sure, Communication 101 is taught in many business schools, but what you learn is amplified in real-life situations. Good communication is more about listening effectively than writing press releases and emails. You’ll need to enhance these skills if you want to be a good salesperson, handle crises effectively and keep your team happy.


Creativity is a process of self-discovery; it can’t be taught in a classroom. Coming up with original ideas is the epitome of entrepreneurship, and it’s been ranked as the top factor for the future success of a business.

Whether you’re trying to develop a new product or looking for ways to boost your income, brainstorming is an excellent way to exercise your creativity and come up with the answers you need.

5. Handling Failure

So, your business failed. Now what? It shouldn’t stop there for you.

College prepares students for success, not for failure. Whether a business is going to do well is highly subjective. It’s commonly reported that most startups will fail.

Take your time to evaluate the situation and then disassociate the failure from yourself because it has nothing to do with you. There are many reasons a business doesn’t do well, a highly competitive landscape being one of the biggest. This is a reality you need to accept when pursuing your entrepreneurial goals. Be the kind of entrepreneur who bounces back quickly and understands that the best way to deal with failure is realizing that it happens.

6. Outsourcing

You can’t be the jack-of-all-trades if you’re only satisfactory at the many skills you learned in college. This is where you have to make an intelligent, business-oriented decision. Instead of spending your time trying to master those skills, you can outsource the tasks to people who are already good at them.

As a business entrepreneur, outsourcing allows you to shift your focus from peripheral activities. It helps you prioritize business activities that lead to revenue-generating outcomes that meet your business objectives.

7. Trusting Your Gut

According to Chip Wilson, founder of Lululemon Athletica, trusting your gut is the best business tool you have.

However, sometimes we’re trained to believe that we should lead with logic rather than intuition. Following your intuition is the ultimate act of trusting yourself — and when starting a business, you have to trust yourself to make the right decisions for yourself and your company.

8. Patience

Patience truly is a virtue. Even in the business world. Especially in the business world. A virtue that isn’t usually valued in entrepreneurship.

Granted that, in business, sometimes it’s hard to be patient. But as an entrepreneur, you represent your business. Therefore, I recommend building a reputation for patience so people know you as someone who deliberates every decision. It’s better than being considered impulsive or aggressive because that is an immediate reflection on your business decision-making.

9. Work-Life Balance

Sometimes work can take up a considerable portion of your life, to the point where it becomes unhealthy. Finding the right balance can be tricky, but it’s necessary so you don’t burn out.

For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, work-life balance is subjective and something that has to be figured out based on what works for them. But I believe taking care of your health and well-being should always take precedence over anything else. The way I see it, the more balanced your life is, the more successful your business can be.

10. Risk-Taking

Taking risks doesn’t mean jumping into business blindly.

Sure, there will be times when your risks may not pay off, but that shouldn’t put you off. Unfortunately, business schools tend to be quite risk-averse. But consider this: Could Elon Musk and Steve Jobs do what they did if they made every decision by the book?

Research has found a definite connection between a person’s willingness to take risks and their personal satisfaction.

In Conclusion

It is essential to consider the various lessons and skills that aren’t taught within the four walls of a classroom. Use both book and street smarts to navigate through the cutthroat competition of the business world.

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