The Smartest Thing I Ever Learned in Business School

Quite a few years ago I took some business classes at a local community annex. They taught the basics of time management and P&L statements and had us craft a mission statement and 30-second elevator pitch. I won’t say that these things aren’t valuable because they are; however, the thing I noticed in class is that many of the budding entrepreneurs were pitching ideas that were self-aggrandizing. They were selling themselves and what I mean to say is they honed in on a talent or hobby or idea that they held near and dear to their hearts with little regard as to who would purchase their product or service. They made the business all about them.
When I went to Syracuse they had us think about this concept that I’ll call, “Will the fish bite?” before we ever started brainstorming our business plan. They wanted us to think about a need that people have and are willing to pay to solve. They didn’t want us to think about ourselves, rather they encouraged us to look around the world and begin looking for unsolved possibilities. The idea of “Will the fish bite?” means essentially, “Will you be able to hook a customer with your idea because they’re hungry enough to latch onto it?”

What problem will you solve?

That’s the smartest lesson I learned in business school.

The second most valuable idea I garnered from business school was the process of honing in on the fish that will actually bite.

If I were to continue the fishing analogy, if you’re hunting for Muskies most likely you’ll want to grab a Jensen Jig and head to Cass Lake, Minnesota for the summer and take out an experienced guide like Dr. Loren Gruber to a catch the beasts. Customers are like that, too. You’ve got to know what your customers who are looking to do one specific thing with you want. You’ve got to know what will make them hungry enough to pay money so you can hook them. You’ve got to know their hair, eye color, demographic, hobbies, friends, etc. so that you can craft an ideal image in your head of what an ideal buyer looks like. You do this so you can find your fish time and time again and know how to hook them.

Then you have to find your pond. You have to know where to fish. With Muskies you can go to Cass Lake. But where do your fish hide out? If you need a guide, reach out to the local library. They can help you pull demographics right down to addresses and phone numbers of fish right in your neighborhood. And from there if you have the right bait for the right fish and they’re hungry, I promise you they’ll buy.

About the Author
Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, the won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.