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What you need to learn before you start a business

Discussion in 'Education, Learning, Books' started by Delmania, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. Delmania
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    Delmania Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    We see a lot of people asking what do they need to learn before launching a business. On one side, we have people saying you don't need to learn anything. On the other hand, we see people listing out skills, like writing code, writing sales copy, branding, SEO, etc.

    Putting myself out there, I offer up this answer. Take a look at Coursera's Business Foundations specialization: https://www.coursera.org/specializations/wharton-business-foundations. While these are aimed at MBA student, the four courses selected should provide a good overview of what knowledge you should have before launching. This doesn't mean you need to run out and take the courses, it's more that these 4 courses represent some core concepts that will help you trying to launch.

    Introduction to Marketing - This is probably the most relevant course in the specialization. Any entrepreneur needs to be able to market. It's not just selling, though, marketing is identifying a segment, figuring out what value you want to bring to that segment, and then figuring out how to tell that segment why they should buy from you. This is the core of any entrepreneurial endeavor. You could have the world's best mousetrap, but if you can't convince me to buy over a normal mousetrap, don't bother.

    Introduction to Operations Management - While this course is not aimed at startups, it's important because it helps you understand how to break your work down and manage it. It can give you some useful tools, but the core value is strategy and planning, and even more, building a mathematical model to those your plans so you can measure them. Any product or service needs to be built; if you can measure how well you're building, you have a firm ground. If you can strategically plan out your work, you can deliver on time.

    Introduction to Financial Accounting - When you start, you will probably be on a cash basis, but as you grow, you might need to switch to accrual, and hire an accountant. It's useful to have some knowledge of how business pay and report finances if only to prevent yourself from falling to fraud. You don't need to take the course, however. Just know you do need to have some basic accounting skills.

    Introduction to Corporate Finance - Again, you'll probably hire an accountant. The key concept is that financing is more than just "money in, money out". Many factors can influence the value of money. Realizing that money is a tool to be used strategically is the core concept here. It's not just "spend less than you make", it's "spend on what you need". Yes, sometimes taking on debt, even though you have the cash on hand, makes sense.

    Let me know your thoughts, thanks.
     
    Litza and BaraQueenbee like this.
  2. Aaron W
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    Aaron W ^‿^ Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Great points and all applicable.

    I'm personally a believer of learning as you go because the actions you do will reinforce the lesson. Therefore, I didn't wait around to start a business.

    However, if I could choose something: it would be marketing. Learning how to actually make a sale is crucial and it's not as easy as it sounds.

    "You could have the world's best mousetrap, but if you can't convince me to buy over a normal mousetrap, don't bother."


    Perfect way to explain it and all it means is make sure what ever business your getting in to offers value.


    Value = a unique selling point that differentiates your product/service from competitors.
    Whether its having 2x the amount of storage or 50x the sunscreen protection, make sure customers actually want that.
     
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  3. Delmania
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    Delmania Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I'm also a fan of JIT (just in time) learning, which is why I was trying to stress that it's the courses themselves, but the concepts they present are useful. Planning, strategy, marketing, understanding money, having a basic understanding of these will help you get going.

    The bolded word is, to me, the key element. One of driving reasons for this was because in one of the learning to code threads, people were mentioning copy writing. There's definitely a bias towards learning how to write sales copy on this forum, and for good reason. I'm trying to remind people not to get into the trap of "I need to learn how to write copy before anything else". The reason you learn to write copy is that it helps you market, it's not an end in and of itself. I want people to focus on the core concepts first, then learn the skills as needed.
     
  4. Jon L
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    Jon L Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I agree with this. I think there's such a wide variety of opinion on this because there is such a wide variety of businesses out there. If you're starting a company that sells dirt to landscapers, you probably don't need to know much about the technical side of running a business before you start. (buy low, sell high, sell enough dirt to make a profit). If you're starting a hedge fund, you might need to know a bit more.

    overall, its probably the best idea to start a business that focuses on your current knowledge base, plus maybe a little bit more that you can learn as you go.

    for my business, for example (custom business software), you need to know a lot about business operations in order to make it. Someone who's never worked in an office before would have too much to learn to be successful.
     
  5. biophase
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    biophase Legendary Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    I don't think you need any of those courses. The marketing one, maybe. Most colleges courses are outdated. The last 3 courses, you definitely do not need to know before you start your business.
     
  6. Delmania
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    Delmania Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    It's not the content of the course, it's the concept they espouse.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  7. Manchild_Unbound
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    Manchild_Unbound Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Hey there. Found this thread on a search. Made a thread with similar content. Cheers.
     

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