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Beyond diplomas: what we don’t tell entrepreneurs

Today, entrepreneurship is part of the curriculum of any self-respecting business school. It is also the subject of many complementary courses, evening classes and continuing education programs, which should provide you with a more or less broad base. If these courses differ in the quality of their teaching and the opportunities they offer, they all come together in the teaching they provide and the subjects they teach. Marketing, management, human resources, all these courses offer the same core curriculum which they then personalize in their own way, by deepening certain subjects or broadening others. While not all training programs are equal, their brochures are all too often similar.

However, the experience of many entrepreneurs has shown that these sometimes very traditional teachings lack a human component. Not that they have ever lacked practical cases or other, but entrepreneurship is much more often a combat sport than an academic discipline. Faced with this reality, one must admit that accounting courses are not always enough. Reflecting on my journey, I asked myself what I would have liked to have been told when I started. I realized that a number of things were not as separate as we were led to believe. I found three, well six…

Knowing how to sell and selling yourself go hand in hand

You will be taught to sell yourself, but also to sell your product. And if the two make sense, we too often forget to explain that they go hand in hand, and must therefore be thought of in the same logic and spirit.

Even the best product will not sell itself. You have to be able to explain what seems obvious to you, and sometimes come up against contradictions. Was your offer really that unique? Does it really stand out? These are all questions that only a discussion with your customers can clarify. In addition to selling your services or products, you will have to know how to sell YOU, and the two are linked.

In a small business, a lot, if not everything, still revolves around the personality of the founder. Buying a presentation from someone who has no online visibility, references or recommendations is not an option for many companies or individuals today. Word-of-mouth and e-reputation are still the way to go, just like brand visibility for a large company, except that a large company, with a large number of references, is more likely to be found online. The difference is that a large, established and well-known company does not need to prove its credibility behind its brand – you do.

Entrepreneurship is a (combat) sport

Beware of clichés, entrepreneurship, whether full-time or in addition to a main activity, can be a sport and will require a competitive mind. Facing failures and rejections, knowing how to dissociate them from your self-esteem and taking a step back can be a real challenge for many if not all.

In the face of this, it’s not just a matter of knowing it and going out for a walk every now and then. It is necessary to know how to set up a real lifestyle with an adapted diet and physical activity rhythm. For me, it’s a matter of practicing sports on a regular basis. Not just a simple walk from time to time. It is also necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle by sleeping and eating properly as much as possible, aware that this is not always feasible. Finally, on a personal level, I am a big fan of meditation – I have an application for this that I use: Petit BamBou.

You have to live your entrepreneurial experience as a physical AND mental preparation. You should also show the same rigor and determination in your daily life as an athlete. In short, you will need a double determination in your project and in your rhythm of life, and there again, the two are inseparable.

The heart of your job will not always be at the center of your concerns

The third and final dissociation, which was not a dissociation, is between your core business and your support functions.

Indeed, if it is your skills in your core business that will ultimately determine your success. Knowing how to get paid (in particular), or how to take the right legal form so as not to be burdened with charges, will also be key and will go hand in hand with your work in the sense that these functions will be as central as your core business, and that the two will go together. Indeed, if you can’t get paid, being the best in your category will make little sense.

It’s a kind of after-sales service for your work to ensure that it benefits you as much as it does your customer. However, after-sales service and the product are not dissociable. Beware of the gnashing of teeth if you let the invoices and administrative tasks pile up. You will see defaults and fines accumulate. In short, you will have understood: getting paid (or not overcharged) is as important as the job. Again, the two are inseparable.

While you may have been told all of these things before, has it ever been pointed out to you that they are two by two inseparable? This changes their perception, because suddenly sports, administrative tasks and personal branding become as important as your entrepreneurial motivation, your core business and your sales strategy.


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