As my time with my cohort comes to a close, I wanted to pause and reflect on what I learned, and what I'll take with me moving forward in my career. HBX was incredibly time-consuming (more so than advertised, I believe) but ultimately, very rewarding and insightful. Here are my three key takeaways from my Harvard HBX semester >>
We're constantly blasted by marketing and sales messages every day, whether they're pinging us in our inboxes, blaring over radio speakers, or popping up in our Facebook feeds.
And it works.
The interesting thing about consumers is that the majority of them want to be like everyone else. They follow trends, look for "what's in," and buy what they're told by glossy magazines.
Companies can't follow the herd if they want to turn a profit. It may work for a time, but eventually, little by little, profits will disappear. Even more disastrous? When businesses think they're following trends but they've completely missed the boat.
Failure. The word burns even to say it. It stings. It's a slap in the face. Confronting the beast of failure puts a pit in your stomach. It is, by far, the hardest thing to learn.
Fail fast, fail hard has become a huge cliche--here's why it's harder to implement than you think.
Turns out, lots of things cost lots of money.
Millennial griping aside, it's not revenue that matters. It's costs. We face them in our daily lives:
- Fixed costs you would incur no matter what for your business. Imagine a Starbucks without their coffee machines! They have to have them or there isn't a business.
- Variable costs change based on the amount you're producing. You only need so much organic cacao and whipped cream for cappuccinos based on your output.
- Opportunity costs hide behind all of your decisions like buyer's remorse. It's the cost of what you could have done with that asset--like instead of paying rent, renting it out to someone else. If you don't have your coffee, your opportunity cost is being a complete zombie, even though your absolute monetary cost might be lower. You're giving up functioning like a human being, so most people say it's worth it to make the purchase.
We never stop hearing about the importance of building your brand and your network. They surround you, help you, and have brunch with you.
This is part of a series of reflections inspired by my courses at HBX, an online business school cohort powered by Harvard Business School. With Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting, I'm learning the fundamentals of business. Find the whole series here.