Question: What is one course (or discipline) young entrepreneurs should take to prepare them for starting up?
"Setting up and running our financials and books in the early days took me more time than it should have. If you have a chance, taking a course in basic accounting or finance is a good idea. However, no class can substitute jumping in and getting your hands dirty in a business. "
"Consumer behavior is a course that mixes psychology and business, aiming to understand the minds of consumers. Knowing what triggers to pull to persuade a potential customer to buy is a very valuable tool. Two books that I would recommend are "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" and "Yes: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive" by Robert Cialdini. "
"No matter what industry you are in, at some point or another Excel will be a useful tool to understand. I strongly believe that everyone should take some sort of course to learn the ins and outs of using Excel."
Psychology, Sociology or Religion
"No matter how you slice it, people do business with people. The better you can understand what makes people tick and what cues dictate their decisions even subconsciously, the better positioned you are to interact with suppliers, employees and clients. If you study or read about psychology, sociology and religion, you'll gain fascinating insights into people. "
"Developing relationships and closing sales is critical to success. A basic knowledge of psychology can help you understand what emotions motivate people and which ones hold them back. The reality is that you can only help people get what they want. If you can understand what they want and why they want it, you'll have great success in marketing your products and services."
Steve Blank's Lean LaunchPad Course
"Learn the key tools and steps to build a successful startup (or at least reduce the risk of failure) from Steve Blank, a seasoned entrepreneur. The Lean LaunchPad course covers his famous customer development process, where entrepreneurs "get out of the building" to gather feedback and then use that feedback to continuously evolve their startup business models. "
"Language is the foundation for everything in business -- ideas, relationships, plans -- at some point they all rely on words. Without a strong understanding of how to convey your thoughts to others on paper, you're at a severe disadvantage."
"It’s amazing how many times you’re going to be modeling things, diving deep into numbers and doing analyses. I think the stronger your statistical background and the more you understand the elements of statistics and can harness the power of Excel, the better off you'll be in the long run. "
"Forget business skills. You need life skills that battle stress, help you trust your gut and quiet your mind. Meditating and doing yoga will help you separate thoughts that are truly yours from thoughts that are simply external pressures from society, your employees, investors and customers. This has improved my ability to make decisions by tenfold. "
"Young entrepreneurs should take every opportunity to engage in public speaking through structured courses or a local theatre or improv group. Entrepreneurs are constantly thinking on their feet and need to have the ability to charismatically rally belief and engagement from an individual whether that person is a potential employee or initial client. "
Persuasion and Negotiation
"A great idea is nothing without an actual product, great team, investors and a target audience who is willing to pay. With all of these stakeholders, young entrepreneurs should get as much practice in the power of persuasion and negotiation as possible. Products rarely build or sell themselves, so the more you can persuade and negotiate with others, the more effective you can be."