3 Entrepreneurial Skills You Won’t Learn From Forbes

Not  content with teaching entrepreneurial lessons from everyday events, Forbes also wants to tell us about places where one cannot learn entrepreneurial skills. The obvious target is business schools. Any article you write that puts down formal college education (dropout and start a company already) or business schools (seriously? don’t you know you can’t start a company with spreadsheets?) is about garnering millions of page views. And the audience is only more than willing.

(Side bar: I went to business school. Proud to be a Haas Berkeley MBA. I did not do that for starting a company. Most who admit to having an MBA quickly add, “don’t hate me for it”. That is just shameful.)

This time Forbes wants to tell us about 3 entrepreneurial skills you won’t learn business schools. Let us look at  their logic

1. Business Schools won’t teach you – How to Code

Gasp! What a waste of tuition and opportunity cost of two years! All those GMAT, essays, two years of beer nights and $100K tuition and yet they don’t teach you coding.  For one thing you know there are only tech startups and another coding is not a hireable skill.

If one goes to business school to learn coding one’s reasoning and decision making need to be seriously questioned. Besides why the obsession with looking at everything through the lens of an App? There are other businesses you know? One of my classmates started a T-shirt company (MarineLayer) and another started a Cereals company (MojaMix) – while still at Haas. I am pretty sure both did not come to business school to learn  how to code or coded for their startup.

The point is not about giving two examples as proof. A business is not about writing code, making t-shirts or mixing cereals – it is about finding a customer segment with unmet need, offering them a compelling value proposition, doing it better than competition and getting your fair share of value you created for them.

2. Business Schools won’t teach you – How to Sell

Go to LinkedIn now and search all those sales professionals and see how many have MBA. See if there is bimodality in the data based on their level – fewer MBAs among frontline sales people  and a higher concentration of MBA among sales executives. (Note: I am not saying MBA is the causation for moving up in sales career, merely pointing out possible bimodality in data.)

Business schools don’t tell you they teach you how to sell. They can only teach you about sales process, sales structures, sales enablement, sales incentives and how to hire the right people. If your startup has a product (you know the one customers want to pay for) then shouldn’t you be hiring sales people?

If you want to learn how to cold call and how to close you might be better off going to one of those real estate workshops.

3. Business Schools won’t teach you – How to Hire

Now this is just a ridiculous claim based on the fact there are no courses titled

MBA-301 How to hire rockstar python coders

What is hiring? It is a strategic investment decision, especially for a startup with limited resources. (For a big enterprise a single hire may not matter much.)

You take stock of your venture, see what key skills are needed for it to be better everyday than the previous day, prioritize those skills based on the return on investment, hire  people who bring those skills and add more value than they take away. In other words it is a resource optimization problem under constraints. And you learn about decision making, opportunity costs, resource optimization and organizational behavior in business schools. All you need to do is apply that in your hiring process.

On the flip side, when you find a person you absolutely want to have on your team, you have to make a compelling and credible case with them on why it is more value for them to be with your venture than outside of it. That involves marketing, selective targeting, positioning and value communication. Once again these are other skills that you learn but need to apply in the context of hiring.

If you went to business school to learn wrong skills, should you be starting a business at all?

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