Business School Rockwell

101 Things I Learned in Business School

by Nicholas Tart on March 21, 2011 · 3 comments

Last summer, I was watching Dragon Ball Z with a high school dropout who had made millions by 21 when he asked, “What do they teach in business school?”

Here’s a 22-year-old kid who has made more money than most people will ever make, yet he asked as though he missed out on something. I graduated from a top 100 business school but I didn’t really know how to answer his question. So I made this list.

After scrounging through my $40,000 college education, I managed to come up with 101 things I learned in business school.


  1. E-N-T-R-E-P-R-E-N-E-U-R. Never Eat Uncooked Rascals.
  2. “Entrepreneurship” is starting, growing, and selling businesses. I didn’t know what an “entrepreneur” was until my sophomore year of college.
  3. Writing a business plan is a tiny first step to starting a business.
  4. Business plan competitions aren’t very competitive. A mediocre business will trump an outstanding business idea.
  5. Investors invest in the person, not the idea.
  6. Good entrepreneurs solve everyday problems.
  7. Good businesses have barriers to entry.
  8. Part of entrepreneurship is figuring out how to make something sustainable before you even start.
  9. Use SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) to analyze business opportunities.
  10. Imitate then innovate. Entrepreneurs start by imitating other businesses and they grow by innovating their business.
  11. A Board of Advisors informally advises while a Board of Directors actively directs. The Board of Directors should be compensated.
  12. An entrepreneur is like an artist of the business world. When they see a business, they subconsciously unpack every detail to find out why that business works. Then they use those concepts in their own entrepreneurial paintings.
  13. Think like successful people think.


  1. Give credit for the good, and take responsibility for the bad.
  2. Don’t blame or hold contempt for someone who has wronged you. Both are signs of bad leaders.
  3. CEO stands for Chief Executive Officer. COO stands for Chief Operations Officer. CMO stands for Chief Marketing Officer. CFO stands for Chief Financial Officer. All of these are called the C-Level or C-Suite.
  4. Manage by walking around (MBWA).
  5. You’re in the people business. You’re trying to retain employees and keep them wanting to work for you.
  6. You’re the advocate for the entire workforce. You speak for them.
  7. Document why you need to fire people. Don’t be afraid to fire as long as you have reason and documentation for your reasoning.
  8. You can’t satisfy everyone.
  9. The key is to be efficient and effective. Every decision needs to be determined based on these two factors.
  10. Set up systems for automation as much as possible.
  11. Gratitude from an immediate supervisor is the best motivator for employees. A study proved it. You have to compensate them fairly, but to retain them; you need to show genuine appreciation.
  12. Young people are motivated by money, old people are motivated by time (generally speaking).
  13. Find the entrepreneurial leaders within your employees and empower them.
  14. Different cultures have different motivators and ways of doing business.


  1. If marketing was a pie, advertising would be a tiny sliver.
  2. Most of your marketing should be done before you have anything to sell.
  3. Sell benefits, not features.
  4. Target markets need to be small, like 100 people small.
  5. Go after markets that have money to spend.
  6. Professional selling is a repeatable process.
  7. People read ads from the upper left to the lower right.
  8. Customer satisfaction = Perceptions > Expectations.


  1. An IPO is an Initial Public Offering of ownership in your company.
  2. Use the break-even point of an opportunity to make decisions.
  3. Depreciation is how much value an asset loses over time.
  4. Invest in appreciative assets, not depreciative. Invest in a house, not a car.
  5. Bookkeeping is a series of debits and credits.
  6. “2/10 net 30” on an invoice tells the customer that they can take a 2% discount if they pay in ten days. Otherwise the whole bill is due in 30.
  7. Business plans have pro forma financial statements. The first two years are broken down by month and the last three by quarters.


  1. 93% of communication is non-verbal.
  2. Strive for open communication between all the layers of your company.
  3. Good news should be communicated directly (news then reasons), bad news should be communicated indirectly (reasons then news).
  4. Never answer your phone when you’re talking to someone.
  5. Call, don’t text.
  6. Name tags go on the right side because when you shake someone’s hand, their eye will follow your arm to your name tag.
  7. Firm handshakes are best. Like rock, paper, scissors; shake once, shake twice, release.
  8. Sit how they sit. When talking with someone, if they’re leaning back, lean back. When they’re leaning forward, lean forward.
  9. Wear seven pieces of flair, max.


  1. Everything is negotiable. Everything.
  2. During negotiations, is when you’ll make the most amount of money per minute.
  3. Almost never accept the first offer.
  4. Your offer should have buffers. If you want two scoops of ice cream for $5, offer to pay $4 for three scoops.
  5. Be the one asking questions. Learn as much as you can about that person’s situation to make a good offer.
  6. Negotiating is about their interests, not yours.
  7. Make sure they know you have other options.
  8. When negotiating, always have a target price and a walk-away point.
  9. Get them to buy-in with emotion, get them to purchase with logic.

Getting a Job

  1. Each line of your resume is worth $1,000. There are about 40 lines on your resume and you’re looking to get a $40,000ish salary.
  2. Make a master resume and tailor it by omission.
  3. Personalize the cover letter to the person hiring you, not the company.
  4. Most jobs come from networking.
  5. Employers look at everything about you. Facebook, Linkedin,, etc.
  6. In the interview, make them think that they need you more than you need them.
  7. The salary is negotiable.

Work Habits

  1. Study around other hard working, motivated people. Library, coffee shop, business school, etc.
  2. Work in well-lit, noiseless environments.
  3. Learn it because you want to know it. Not because you have to get a good grade. You’re paying a lot of money to learn.
  4. Incentivize yourself with rewards, but only reward yourself when you get something done.
  5. Don’t brag about how much or how little you studied. Either way, you come across as a pompous idiot.


  1. Never shake hands with the same hand you’re holding your drink. Always hold your glass in your left hand if you’re right-handed.
  2. Never bite off the bread. Break off the piece you’re going to eat, butter it, and then put it in your mouth.
  3. If you leave the table and plan on coming back, rest your napkin on the back of your chair.
  4. If you’re finished with your food, put your napkin on your plate.
  5. Use your silverware from the outside in.
  6. Make eye contact but don’t stare them down. Remain calm and enthusiastic. Don’t twitch.
  7. Sit up straight. Have good posture but don’t intimidate or look like an idiot. We’re not in France, you know?
  8. When giving your business card, shake with right and give with left.
  9. When receiving a business card, always make one comment about the card. For example, comment on the logo.

Miscellaneous College Advice

  1. First parking ticket can be waived.
  2. Second parking ticket can’t. Neither can the third, fourth, or fifth.
  3. Park off-campus and walk. Even better, ride a bike.
  4. Buy textbooks as soon as you can from, and sell them as late as you can on I almost always made money on my textbooks by doing this.
  5. Never pay for a couch. You can find plenty of nice ones perusing the streets in wealthy neighborhoods.
  6. Pick classes based on what you want to learn.
  7. Get to know your professors during office hours. They’re well connected.
  8. Take advantage of the gym, because gyms are nice and they’re really expensive once you graduate.
  9. Wear flip flops in community bathrooms.
  10. The weekend doesn’t start until Friday.
  11. Drinking excessively is dumb. The only people doing it are people who lack self-confidence and any sort of direction in their life. These idiots place an ugly stigma on college culture that, in most cases, is inaccurately portrayed in our media.
  12. Find a roommate who cares about their academics.
  13. Find friends who will challenge you. Get to know them. Admire them for their passions.
  14. Friends come and go like the wind. Keep the good ones, scrap the bad ones.
  15. You’re not ready for a relationship.
  16. Mac-n-Cheese is better than Ramen Noodles.
  17. Don’t watch TV. Or play video games or computer games. It’s a waste of time unless you’re in the company of good friends.
  18. You have more spare time than you think.
  19. Get an internship or start a business as soon as possible.
  20. College is the best time to start a business. Don’t waste it.

I was watching Dragon Ball Z with Andrew Fashion and the second floor of that building above is where I spent most of my senior year.

Woah, dizzy from scrolling. What did you learn in business school? Or what do you wish you learned in business school that you had to learn through the school of hard knocks? Tell me below.

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Post image by: Colorado State University