5 Crucial Ingredients to Entrepreneurial Success that I Didn’t Learn in Business School

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5 Crucial Ingredients to Entrepreneurial Success that I Didn’t Learn in Business School


Sometimes learning is just fear masquerading as growth.

Learning is a cheap substitute for doing. At some point, you need to just do. In fact, you will learn more by doing than by “researching”.

In college, “doing” was associated with completing assignments and taking tests. All you had to do was the bare minimum for whatever your goal was – whatever grade you wanted to get. There are even plenty of ways to work the system, like doing extra credit, or working hard enough on menial assignments that your professor bumps up your 88 to an A. College looks good on paper. Literally, you get a piece of paper that says you learned something.

In college, “doing” was associated with completing assignments and taking tests. All you had to do was the bare minimum for whatever your goal was – whatever grade you wanted to get. There are even plenty of ways to work the system, like doing extra credit, or working hard enough on menial assignments that your professor bumps up your 88 to an A. College looks good on paper. Literally, you get a piece of paper that says you learned something.

Now, if you’re just entering the workforce and looking to work for someone else, then you may find a similar environment to the one full of classrooms and students. You can get hired to perform a specific task that requires nothing more than “completing your assignment.” These kinds of jobs are sometimes envied. I’ve heard people say, “Man, that job is so easy. All you have to do is sit at a desk and do_______. And it pays really well.”

As if that’s the dream – to find something painless and easy, but gives you enough money to enjoy life. No way. That will never fill the desire within.

In my experience, I’ve noticed certain mindsets and beliefs that I had to change to become a real entrepreneur. Here are five of them. Apply them and you’ll step into a world that few dare to live.


1. Break out of a “minimum required” mindset


College teaches you to do the bare minimum to get by – to make the grade. Rarely will you do your best unless you are truly passionate about the subject you are studying. If you are working to become a family doctor, marketing will not produce your best work. If you are pursuing journalism, math won’t get your best effort. Even then, if you grew up with typical American schooling, you may not even apply your best effort toward the thing you are studying.

These learned behaviors are like poison to entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is not about making a grade. It’s about providing real value through expertise – expertise that comes through passion. True entrepreneurship really is about following a dream. School rarely is.


2. Assume people are smart


One of the mistakes I made when I first started learning about how to start a business was thinking that people wouldn’t notice my lack of effort or disregard to detail. Oh, but they do. In fact, most people nowadays have a pretty good BS detector. They know when you’re full of it or if your motives are wrong. Which brings me to the next point.


3. Stop making money your goal


Entrepreneurship is not just about financial freedom. In its purest form, it’s about creative fulfillment. Many people start out with a desire to just make a lot of money. How much? Enough. They just want however much money it takes so they can sit back and figure out what they really want to do. But, it rarely works that way, and honestly it would be the worst thing for you. A lot of money ultimately won’t make you happy. It won’t make your fears and problems go away. It will simply make you more of who you are.

When I was in college, it was all about getting a good job that made enough money. The goal was so I could feel secure. It was really all about living a life that was safe and predictable. That’s kind of the opposite of real growth.

Money as the goal also does a disservice to the people you want to serve. That motive filters into the work you do. Simply put, it won’t be your best work. It will be “enough” to get the paycheck.


4. Do the work when no one is watching, and do it well.


No one will grade your work. No one will make sure it’s done on time. There will be no grade at the end. There is simply the work you produce and the value it provides. People will either want it and pay for it, or not. Do work that matters – to the people you are trying to serve and to you.

Being an entrepreneur also requires a lot of work. No one will force you to do it. You must learn discipline. You must be intentional. You must put your head down and work, knowing that you will not be praised for it. Most people will never know the hours you put in, and that’s okay. The work matters.


5. Get better (Get past the stage of being bad.)


You will hit a wall – many, actually. You will face resistance. Often that resistance is simply this: you’re not very good, yet. Even if you are passionate about something you still need to hone your craft. You might be bad at first. That’s not a reason to quit. Be okay with being bad at first and learn. Work insatiably toward improvement. Get better. Apply. Learn. Repeat.

This goes for procrastination, too. Often, procrastination is just fear. You don’t feel like doing the work right now because it might turn out bad. You fear failing. Push though and do the work anyway. It’s how you get better.



Becoming an entrepreneur is not as easy as it sounds. There are countless people who call themselves by that name, but have yet to put in the work or provide real value to others. Maybe their real desire is to have the money and freedom they assume comes with entrepreneurship. Who knows. The point is, if you want to live this kind of life it will take work. It will mean growth, which is often not comfortable. It also means breaking out of a lot of old mindsets and limiting beliefs – about yourself and others.

Your new education is starting, and never ending. You may have to unlearn a lot of things first. Along the way, though, you’ll learn that the whole “follow your dreams” thing that’s thrown around might actually mean something, and it might be bigger than you’ve ever imagined.


Brian Sherman
Brian Sherman
Brian Sherman is an author, entrepreneur, husband and father. He is the Lead Writer and Content Manager for Voixly, a Texas-based Digital Marketing Firm. He authored the book, For Real This Time, and writes for several publications online on the topics of personal development, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

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