10 Things MBA Schools Won’t Teach You About Managing Your Agency

Input from entrepreneurs on management, marketing and sales
by Todd Knutson


If your ad agency is new or entrepreneurial, you're in a start-up marketing services company, or you're a CEO, you'll relate to this list of 10 things MBA schools won't teach you and the follow-on comments from street-smart entrepreneurs.

This list was culled from two posts on

From the original post, "10 Things MBA Schools Won’t Teach You":

  • There are an infinite number of ways to spend money on marketing.  You have no idea what’s actually going to work.  The idea is to experiment broadly and learn lessons cheaply.  On a related note, no amount of MBA marketing classes will prepare you for the day that you have to produce leads in order to close sales.  As it turns out, marketing is about more than product feature matrices and the right shade of blue for your logo.
  • No amount of strategic planning will ever substitute for managing your cash flow.  Financial statements are great.  The most important one is your bank account statement.
  • There’s a lot of value to being likable.  Good things happen when people like you.  When people like you, bad things have less of a chance of being fatal.  I advise being likable. 

And from the follow-up post, "37 Pithy Insights from Street-Smart Entrepreneurs":

  • Infect employees with pride of ownership. If the employees feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves, then they'll work that way.
  • Ritualize the work atmosphere -- every time a contract comes in, ring a bell or gong and let everyone celebrate. There's a reason Survivor has rituals.
  • Leave your ego at the door and hire people without big egos that can understand how to look at a problem and be open to solutions no matter where they come from.  Keep those people.
  • How are you continuing to invest in your customers and their experience after they have purchased your product? Value relates to the entire customer experience
  • Ultimately, the CEO's position is to simultaneously lead and serve others.
  • It is important that you like your customers. If you do not like your customers you will by design not do the best you can for them because they annoy you.
  • A big lesson for me was SALES. There's very little coursework in MBA curricula around how Sales works... Can be a rude awakening for freshly-minted MBAs who know all about Porter's Forces, and nothing about how the Sales mind, the Sales organization, and Sales processes work.

What are some of the lessons you've learned?

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