What You Should Learn from School About Running a Business But Never Did

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Elon Musk passed Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg as the third richest person in the world. Forbes said that he is poised to be the second richest person as his company’s stocks surge. This year alone, his fortune jumped by $90 billion. He will soon overtake his co-multibillionaire and occasional verbal sparring partner, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, as the second richest person after Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

Aside from both having access to a massive fortune, Bezos and Musk are also not firm believers of traditional schools, unlike Gates who was once the world’s richest man. Musk scoffs at traditional school, choosing instead to build his own private school for his kids. Bezos and his former wife teach their kids Singaporean Math and are very adamant on the importance of resourcefulness. They, too, are not big believers in the traditional curriculum. Instead, they put more value on their kids learning life skills that will enable them to become well-rounded people in the future.

Not everything you need to succeed in life or in running a business can be learned in school. Some of the things you might have applied in your life came from your experiences. Some of them are inspirations you get from reading self-improvement books. Your success is not chained to your academics. That much at least is true, though that doesn’t mean you should skip and forego school. Instead, you have to embrace everything—school, books, experiences, and mentors. You have to be relentless in your hunger for knowledge, seeking it wherever you can find it.

Managing Your Psychology

Owning and managing a business requires strong mental health. There are going to be a lot of challenges. You will question yourself far too often that it will feel like you are competing with yourself. No one told you in business school that running a business will be this hard. It’s not just about your failures as a businessman. It’s about navigating your personal and professional life.

The thing about managing your psychology is you have to learn not to tie yourself to external events and circumstances. In life and business, things are not going to work the way you want them to. At least, not always. You have to learn to objectify things. You need to determine who you are and what’s your worth. Once you have a good grasp of your worth, you will never allow anyone or anything to push you into a bottomless pit. You will be your own person, and that’s always important in running a business.

In school, you will worry about your grades. Low academic ranking will push you to the brink of depression. Most of the time, you will wallow in pain when your thesis advisor slashes a whole chapter from your study. School taught you to become conscious of your grades without thinking about what it will do to you mentally.

Accepting That Not Everyone Will Like You

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Your employees are not going to like you, except maybe when you give them a gift this Christmas. No matter how much you try to be a fair boss, people will always have something to say about you. It’s the great fact of life that you cannot please people no matter how hard you try. So, why do it in the first place? Why not leave your life as you please for as long as you don’t step on anyone’s rights?

It’s the same thing with your business. People are not always going to write glowing reviews about your business. Some of them may even be unfair in their criticisms of your products or services. However, if you let these things bother you, then your business will never fully reach its potential. Stop wasting a tremendous amount of energy and emotions on things that are out of your control. Do what’s best for your business. Listen to your customers when they something with value. But at the most, run your business the way you know best. You aren’t indebted to anyone.

This isn’t always easy especially if you want to get along with your peers in school. But you will soon find out that being uncool (and doing the right thing) is way better than being cool (and doing things that will get you in trouble). When it comes to running a business, you sometimes have to be uncool. Sure, it’s nice to have a free-flowing margarita and allow your employees to smoke in the break room, but is that what you want your business to stand for—being intoxicated in the middle of the day and giving everyone respiratory problems? So, you need to learn that not everyone will love or like you. That should be okay.

Look, this doesn’t mean you should forego going to school. The truth is that marketing theories, advertising, and sales management all come from your classes. While your experiences in the real world will hone your skills and talents, the most basic of things you know about a business will come from your school. What this meant is that you should embrace everything—school, books, experiences, and professional advice.

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