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The Basics of Business

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I took an ‘Intro to Business’ course as a freshman at the University of Oregon. It was a 10 week, $2,000, 4-hour-per-week course. We spent the 10 weeks running excel simulations for a ‘widget’ factory. We were told that this would ‘Teach us the fundamentals of doing business.’

In 10 weeks I learned absolutely nothing about doing business.

# If you want to learn to do business, you must do business.

I dropped out of the University of Oregon’s business program a year later and switched my major to Economics. Now I own-and-operate two businesses and have a day job as the Director of Marketing for a Eugene company.

I learned everything I know about business by doing business. In college I started an eBay store, hustled Magic: The Gathering Cards, and started a newspaper.

I learned to do business by doing business.

# The Basics of Business

What are the basics of business?

* Negotiation — You’re a haggler. You aren’t afraid to ask for something.
* Sales — You can identify problems and pair a product / service as the solution for those problems.
* Communication — You can write. You can speak. You can persuade someone. You can present an argument.
* Marketing — You know how to present facts based on the audience and agenda.
I think if you’re comfortable with these skills, you’re adept at the basics of business. Everything else is just specialization.

# Just Do It
If you want to learn the basics of business - the 4 skills I outlined above - here’s what I’d recommend:

* Take $200. Go buy an iPod Touch off of Craigslist.
* Take photos of the iPod. Sell it for $10 / $25 / $50 more than you paid for it. List it on Craigslist or flyer campus.
* Repeat this 10 times for 10 weeks.

Over the 10 weeks, test each part of this cycle:

* Test the photos you take
* Test how you write about it
* Test how much you’re selling it for
* Test how you purchase the iPod - ask for a lower price.
* Keep a list of every question that comes to mind or change you can test. Ask yourself ‘How can I sell this for more?’, ‘How can I prove to the buyer what this is worth?’

# That’s a lot of work.

Yeah. Sure. So is spending 4 hour/week sitting in a class room. And paying $2,000 for the privilege.

I say do this. Spend the time testing different sales strategies. Learn the basics of business by doing business. Learn what it’s like to sell something. Learn what it’s like to look someone in the eyes and ask them to knock $25 off their price.

Learn to do business.


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