10 Startup Lessons that You Won’t Learn in College

10 Startup Lessons that You Won’t Learn in College


Avichal Singh

Avichal Singh

470 week ago — 6 min read

Going to college and earning a degree is not a bad thing but it’s not always the best place to learn the lessons you need to be a successful entrepreneur. College is a great place to learn technical skills but the truth is there are some things that college does not teach you.

To help bridge the gap, here's a list of 10 startup lessons that you won’t learn at college.

  1. You won’t always succeed
    Colleges lead you to believe that you have picked up all the knowledge you need to succeed. If you are planning on starting a business, the first thing you need to realise is that you won’t always succeed. Failure is a big part of being a successful entrepreneur but colleges don’t teach you how to handle failure. Most successful entrepreneurs have experienced failure at some point. It’s the best way to learn how to make your next attempt a success.

  2. You will need to raise money
    If you thought raising money for college was hard you should try raising money for a new business; the paperwork alone is far more complex. You will need to create a detailed plan explaining to investors and banks how your startup or product is going to eventually earn them money. If they do not understand your vision you will have to negotiate with them and convince them that your idea is a good bet. This is a skill that colleges does not teach you. Without proper funding you won’t be able to get your business off the ground.

  3. Spend wisely
    In college you don’t have to worry about taxes, business expenses, payrolls and paying the office rent. Life is less complicated. Any extra money is spent to have a little fun. You seldom have to stop and think about how to budget your money. If you follow the same attitude with a startup, you will crash and burn in the blink of an eye. If you are going to start a new venture you need to be able to budget expenses for the next six months. You need to be able to read profit and loss statements and balance sheets with ease.

  4. Learn to switch gears
    If you’re running a startup you will encounter surprises. You need to know how to switch gears and keep going when you encounter a roadblock or an obstacle. A fact that is not widely discussed is that many college students change their major by the end of their sophomore year.

  5. Sometimes you have to colour outside the lines
    Ambiguity is something that entrepreneurs should get comfortable with. The startup world is never black and white but is full of greys. College teaches you that there is either a right or a wrong answer but in the startup world that is rarely true. There are options, each with its own pros and cons. You will need to get creative with your choices so that you get the best results.

  6. Networking is key
    Colleges don’t teach you about networking. Networking and socialising are two different things. In a startup you will need to work with people in a variety of fields: programmers, engineers, marketing professionals etc. We generally only socialise with people who are in our immediate circle or in our field but if you want to succeed you need to reach out and engage with the right people. If you build the right network you will get the right opportunities.

    GlobalLinker is an excellent platform for business networking. It offers networking capabilities that will allow you to scan other companies’ profiles and make advantageous connections.

  7. Every entrepreneur is a salesman
    If you are an entrepreneur you need to learn to sell. You will have to sell your vision to investors and banks so that they will give you money. You will have to sell your company’s mission to potential hires so that they will want to work with you. You will have to make decisions about the best way to sell your product to clients. Learning to sell is not something that you learn in college but it’s an important skill to develop. You need to learn how to read people and how to get them hooked on to what you are selling.

  8. It’s about the mind and body
    It’s not enough to have a sharp mind you need to be able to physically execute your work. Making a startup successful requires a lot of time investment. It’s important that you stay in good health so that you can put in the time and do the work. You also need to make sure your employees are healthy. No more staying out all night and skipping class the next day because you’re hungover. In the startup world every day counts.

  9. Good leaders aren’t always good bosses
    Colleges teach you how to lead. There are so many classes you can join to become a good leader and a better businessman but being a boss is not about leading. It’s about managing employees. It’s about guiding, inspiring and making tough decisions and that's not something you learn in college.

  10. Time management is everything
    As we mentioned before startups need a lot of time investment. It’s no longer about finishing that paper so that you can relax on the weekend. When you start a venture you will essentially be working 24/7. Don’t think about happy hours or that awesome gig at the club. You will need to put time into your business. How you manage your time could make or break your business.