A college education is not a prerequisite for success. There are plenty of great careers for MBA graduates, but before you read up on what jobs will pay more with an MBA, consider what other essential skills you need to run a successful business.

College students come from all walks of life, but the one thing they have in common is that they are determined to learn new skills. These days, you can study online or attend classes at your local community college or state university. The choice is yours. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but what they both have in common is that they don’t teach students everything they need to know to be a success in business.

Organizational Skills

To run a successful business requires a great deal of organization. It isn’t enough to have an amazing idea. To put this idea into practice and start marketing your products and services, you need to be organized. There is a lot to think about, from maintaining the accounts and paying bills on time, to placing orders and marketing online. In the beginning, the buck stops with you, so if you forget to do pay your tax bill or a supplier, there will be trouble ahead.

Communication Skills

Communication skills are very important. Some people manage to run successful businesses with zero communication skills, but this is rare. It’s up to you to say the right things when you are trying to woo a new client or persuade a lender to give you extra funding. You can’t talk over people; instead, learn how to be a good listener, as this creates the best working environment.

Pay Attention to Details

Once you stop paying attention to the details, things will soon begin to unravel. Little things have a habit of building up and becoming big problems. Running your own business means managing every last thread of the business to ensure things run smoothly at all times.


Are you good at stepping in another person’s shoes? Empathy is a valuable skill, yet a lot of senior managers and business owners lack empathy. Without empathy, you won’t be able to spot when a client is unhappy, or know what to do when they say they have a problem.

A Work Ethic

It goes without saying that anyone who wants to be a success in business needs a tremendous work ethic. You don’t get to be the boss of a global business empire without working ridiculous hours in the early days. College doesn’t teach you a work ethic; you have one or you don’t.

Resilience in the Face of Adversity

Not all businesses are a success. Often, a business fails because the person in charge lacks the relevant experience. Other times, it fails because of adverse market conditions. Whatever the reason, having the ability to pick up the pieces and start again is invaluable.

None of the above skills are taught at college, so learn through experience and look for a mentor who can help mold you into a successful businessperson.