Five years ago, I graduated from a very impressive MBA program and set off into the business world as a fresh-eyed entrepreneur, with very little idea of what I was getting myself into.
Don’t get me wrong, my MBA program helped me in a lot of ways. When I first enrolled, I just wanted to look at my options and get out of my finance degree. My MBA degree put me on track to becoming an entrepreneur in the first place.
But there were a few areas that I found lacking and lessons I didn’t learn until long after I graduated. I know that others, whether in impressive “top tier” programs or otherwise, have left their MBA programs with a similar lack of preparedness.
Here are a few lessons I had to learn through trial and error in the business world because they weren’t taught in my MBA program.
How to Have a Fulfilling Career
As you might expect, most MBA programs focus on giving you the tools to find a job after graduation: resume and interview prep is a big part of it. This is handy, because we do live in an economy in which it’s hard to find good jobs after college.
But there’s little focus on finding a fulfilling career and it shows. Over half of all MBA graduates leave their first job within the first five years.
It may be that most MBA programs expect students to already know what they want to pursue. But when you’re still weighing your options as many students are, there’s very little guidance available to lead them to a fulfilling career they’ll enjoy.
How to Focus Instead of Dabble
On the other hand, often MBA programs fall into the trap of teaching students to be a jack of various trades rather than encouraging them to zero in and become a master of one or two.
The goal is to allow students to try different things and see what sticks, but often it leads to information overload. Your focus is stretched too thin.
For my part, I’ve always found myself at my most successful when I drop all distractions and just focus on one or two things. When I’m able to really dedicate myself to something, I can master it. But the habit of working deeply is something I had to learn on my own, without the help of my MBA program.
How to Market My Brand
Marketing your brand is one of the most important, and most constant, things you have to do in business. So why do MBA programs so often train students to pitch their business to backers, but not to market on a day-to-day basis?
In my MBA program, the focus is on getting funding. But after you’ve landed some those investors, you still need to know how to best promote yourself in the ever-changing format of digital marketing and how to adapt to changing trends.
When I started selling my brand, I had to learn the everyday marketing practices from scratch, because my MBA program treated good valuation as the end goal.
The Importance of Feedback
Feedback is essential for growth. The truth is, no entrepreneur sets out onto the business scene with a perfect plan. I certainly didn’t.
Whenever there was a major flaw in my marketing or my products and services, I learned through feedback. This doesn’t just mean a well-meaning friend told me I did something wrong. Often, it was a social media campaign that no one responded to or a lack of sales calls or a high volume of sales calls when I did something right.
I didn’t learn how much I would rely on feedback to improve in my MBA program, but I certainly did as soon as I left.
As they say, the best education is experience. When I graduated and stepped into the world of entrepreneurship, I learned quickly that, despite my top tier MBA program, I didn’t know as much as I needed to know. And the lessons I learned in my MBA program proved ultimately less helpful than the lessons I learned later.
Written by: Josh Elkin, Founder, Best Coast Marketing
Josh Elkin is the founder of Best Coast Marketing – a marketing agency which helps increase their clients’ traffic through organic link-building. Josh enjoys writing about entrepreneurship, marketing, productivity and self-improvement.