Top Five Takeaways from a Year in FME
Having completed my first year at Babson just over a month ago, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the key takeaways from my most unique first-year class, FME. Because all Babson freshman have gone through the FME experience we are all familiar with Babson buzzwords such as ETA, SEERS, and CLTP. To parents or friends from other schools these all sound like nonsense words but to Babson students they describe the entrepreneurial concept of creating both economic and social value for society, which was also the main theme of FME.
Aside from the broader entrepreneurial thought process, FME also introduces students to the important discipline of Organizational Behavior, which describes how people interact with each other on teams and in the business environment. FME is divided into Entrepreneurial and OB lessons, illustrating the equal importance of both topics in creating a successful startup.
Here are my top takeaways from a year in FME:
- A company is only as successful as the team behind it. During my FME experience, I was a member of several different groups, which showed me the important role group dynamics play in the overall success of a company. The more passionate and close-knit the group was, the more successful the FME business became. Conversely, groups that were fractured or did not mesh well were the groups that struggled the most.
- Speaking up and offering feedback in meetings is the key to creating a productive group environment. Early in the year, I was a member of an FME group whose members were reluctant to give constructive feedback on important matters such as the goals and direction of the company. Instead, all the group members were eager to agree with one another and embrace every idea, which is helpful at times but in the long run, contrarian views are required to push team members to excel and come up with better ideas.
- Every member of a startup should be able to review and understand company finances to avoid important mistakes that could jeopardize the future of the business. My FME professors continually stressed the importance of each group member possessing a basic understanding of all aspects of the business and especially having several eyes review accounting information each week. Different members of the group were also required to give presentations to the class of company progress information, which was key to making sure everyone was on the same page.
- Understanding your target market is key to any successful business. In our FME marketing classes, the importance of finding and understanding the needs of your business’s chosen target demographic was made very clear and illustrated that a company without a clearly defined target market cannot succeed.
- If an entrepreneurial venture is unsuccessful, use the experience of failure to pivot to a new and improved idea. The clearest takeaway from the FME experience is that the majority of startups are not successful and that being a true entrepreneur is about utilizing the wisdom of success and failure to create lasting ventures, even if that means pivoting to a completely new idea.