25 Lessons Business School Won’t Ever Teach You

If you’re hoping that MBA will be your golden ticket to kickstarting a successful career in business, consider these all-important 25 lessons that you’ll have to learn outside the classroom:

  1. How to be a better leader (You first have to discover your strengths and weaknesses by yourself.)
  2. There is no single path to success (You have to discover your own.)
  3. How to build relationships that help move you forward.
  4. How to be an effective communicator (This is a topic rarely covered in business school.)
  5. Every interaction is a negotiation (You may learn negotiation strategies in business school, but the act of doing it in real time, in real life, is entirely different.)
  6. How to establish a new business (How to find capital, get people to invest in your ideas and make that all-important first sale.)
  7. The importance of courtesy and manners (Simple things like using customers’ names, being on time, delivering on promises and saying thank you will make a huge difference to your business’s success.)
  8. How to hire the best people.
  9. How to learn from your mistakes.
  10. Marketing in a high-tech world (Changing too fast for business schools to keep up.)
  11. How to relate to your customers (Comes from really listening to your customers.)
  12. Emotional intelligence is just as important as IQ (Ability to perceive, understand and manage your own feelings and emotions. In the business world, this is often more valuable than book smarts.)
  13. How to be humble (When you’re humble, you stay focused on the needs of customers and really listen to feedback and criticism.)
  14. You’ll have to figure some things out on the fly (There’s no doubt that business models are important. But sometimes you just have to wing it.)
  15. How to be creative (It takes practice and persistence to generate creative ideas and make something great out of them.)
  16. The importance of risk taking (An MBA certainly can’t teach you what to do when you take a risk and it flops.)
  17. You can’t avoid office politics (Office politics will always be a part of business. Knowing how to deal with people effectively is a must.)
  18. How to outmaneuver larger competitors (Look for ways you can offer something the bigger guys can’t without going to a head-to-head competition.)
  19. How to resolve conflicts (In business, as in life, conflicts are inevitable. You’re going to have to embrace that fact and learn to deal with it.)
  20. When to trust your instincts 
  21. How to set goals (Goal setting is crucial to holding yourself accountable and making sure everyone on your team is aligned and on the same page.)
  22. Generating ideas that will disrupt (Business school may teach you that disruption begins with defining a solution to a problem and then finding a way to add value to customers’ experience. Sounds simple, but finding a way to break with the status quo never is.)
  23. How to delegate.
  24. How to set realistic expectations (If you promise the world to customers or clients, and then can’t fulfill those obligations, you’re going to end up with some frustrated people on your hands.)
  25. Real-life experience (Real life is full of wins and losses, failures and successes. Learning to navigate the harsh business world will teach you more than you can ever learn in a classroom.)