I won't lie, college is a lot of BS. I mean, I’m glad I went for the networking opportunities and to learn about life, but when it came to learning about business, college didn’t really teach me much at all.
I have only recently started a business, but I can already tell that I’ve learned more in just this past month that I have in the years I spent taking classes in what is referred to as a "prestigious" business school.
Here are four ways starting a business taught me more than I ever learned in school:
1. It’s more realistic
In college, no one really gives you much structure on assignments, especially marketing ones. I only had one or two classes where the assignments actually mirrored real life, and those were accounting classes.
Many of the marketing classes I took either gave no marketing budget because “the business couldn’t afford it,” or gave an unlimited budget, meaning it was undisclosed whether or not one existed, so my classmates went overboard.
Two things are wrong with these assignments. In real life, every starting business has to have a marketing budget. There’s just no way to avoid it.
Someone has to know about your business and if you have no money to market, you don’t have money to do business.
Giving someone an unlimited budget provides the false expectation that all companies have this. Even the largest companies in the world have to somehow set a limit.
2. The real world teaches you how to actually conduct business
Not many schools have business ethics courses anymore; it’s just assumed. They also don’t have courses that teach students how to hustle their way to build better businesses. Ultimately, that’s the most important part.
I quickly had to learn how to talk to potential clients and to partners. No one taught me how to partner with people. It was something I had to come up with on my own. So far, it has been my greatest success.
3. It makes you a specialist in everything business related
When my business grew unexpectedly fast in the first week, I had to very quickly learn how to be my own accountant, my own secretary, my own marketer — my own everything.
I had to take all of the skills I had learned form previous jobs and apply them right away. I had to learn how to be creative with no limits.
Running my own business is much more challenging than a class project because I have to know every little detail about my business and exactly how I want to say things. I can’t rely on someone else to do my marketing for me or to do my expense reports for me.
4. It teaches you how working hard can be more rewarding
When it comes to a school assignment, it’s easy to make mistakes because there’s no real money involved. You’ll still pass college, even if you fail just one assignment.
Even when there is real money involved, it’s not personal money. When I started using my own money toward operating a business, there was no room for mistakes.
Everything I do has to be done with the best ROI in mind and the best customer retention because I know that if I make a poor choice, I'll lose everything.
At the same time, using my own money toward a business has taught me how rewarding it is to work hard because all of the money that I make won’t go toward a ton of people I don’t know; instead, it’ll go to me and the people to whom I choose to donate.
In general, the theories that schools teach are great, but getting out there and actually applying them is more of a learning experience than school will ever be.
There has never been in a time in my life that I have been more content with my decision and all of the aspects of business that I am learning right now.
If only I realized this in college...