Tuesday, October 4

Why is Business Education Useful for an Aspiring Entrepreneur?

When you want to become a lawyer, you go to law school. If you have dreams of being a doctor, you head to medical school. If you want a career in business management, you go to business school. For entrepreneurs, the path isn’t always as straightforward. 

In fact, the history of entrepreneurship is full of examples of mavericks who blazed their own trails in the field (this blazing trails thing is kind of built into the profession). Tech giants Bill Gates and Steve Jobs dropped out of college. Henry Ford never even went. Ray Croc quit when he was in high school and Fredrick Henry Royce, founder of Rolls-Royce, said goodbye to education in his elementary years.

With the scourge of student debt and the prohibitive cost of a business degree, it’s tempting to think hitting the pavement sans a degree is the way to go. And it may be, for some. The names we mentioned above sure pulled it off, right? Here’s the thing — those pioneers are notable because they’re the exception that proves the rule. For every nonconformist entrepreneur who made it on sheer will and personality, the pathway is littered with those who didn’t. To hedge your bets, business education is still a smart move. Here’s why. Some of the tips we go through in the article are inspired by Adam Guild Entrepreneur.

Business Degrees Teach Practical Skills

It’s easy to get pie-in-the-sky about entrepreneurship. The types of people who are drawn to it are typically big dreamers solving big problems with big ideas. However, underpinning all those big ideas are countless structurally supportive practical steps that keep everything from collapsing. No matter what you want to do as an entrepreneur — invent the next sustainable fuel, launch a fashion line or make the end-all dating app — there are pragmatic skills that everyone in business needs to know. 

Indeed, you won’t get too far without knowing how to draw up a sustainable business plan. Not many investors will hand you wads of cash if you can’t demonstrate to them (in ways they can understand) what your competitors are doing, how soft the market is and how you plan to scale. 

Making a realistic budget involves lots of decidedly unromantic number crunching and practical considerations as well. If the budget is leaky and bills aren’t paid, creditors aren’t going to be paid with big ideas.

And it’s not just budgeting. Running a successful business means a huge portion of your time is devoted to financial management — staring at seemingly endless spreadsheets, studying investments, monitoring expenditures, and calculating and recalculating projections ad nauseam. Understanding the importance of these mundane tasks is crucial.

Programs also delve into the law, which can be a lifesaver, especially if you end up on the wrong side of it.

Are these skills you can learn in the real world? Absolutely. But business school teaches skills like these in a comprehensive, holistic way that ensures you have a firm foundation in the fundamental practices of running a company. And, they allow you a space to fail safely. The real world doesn’t.

Business Degrees Foster Soft Skills

As important as practical skills are, the argument can be made that soft skills like communication, team-building, and leadership are even more critical. 

Some say that these skills can’t be taught. While it may be true that some people are born leaders and some are just naturally better at taking risks than others, that fatalistic view discounts the adaptability of human beings. Plenty of naturally talented people have rested on their laurels and been left in the dust by people who were willing to humble themselves, work harder and take the time to become better.

More and more, business schools are focusing on these people. They recognize that creating successful business people means developing the whole person. In addition to rote classroom work, schools now devote a large portion of their curricula to team-building exercises where students sharpen each other, leadership opportunities where students take charge and networking events where they can find mentors. Many provide connections with local businesses and ties with business leaders where students can gain real-world experience.

Along this path, students will get to see a range of leadership styles. Some they’ll want to emulate and others they’ll know to avoid. 

They’ll also fail. A lot. And learning to fail is about the best thing you can do as an entrepreneur. The best in this business embrace failure; they learn from it, they grow from it, they pick themselves up afterward and are better for it. Practicing failure in business school makes entrepreneurs immune to the sting and open to the lesson it teaches, which some might argue is the ultimate key to success. 

Entrepreneurial Degrees

You might not be able to imagine yourself working your way up the proverbial corporate ladder in the business world. You might see yourself stuck in a cubicle doing mind-numbingly repetitive tasks in middle management and recoil in horror. That’s okay. That’s fantastic self-awareness and it’s a great way to know a traditional business degree is a wrong route for you. 

Luckily, many business schools offer dynamic degrees in entrepreneurship that are as far from the stuffy classrooms as you can imagine. They teach the fundamentals of business that everyone in the industry needs to know but they also embrace the nontraditional, giving students the freedom to explore, making plenty of room for big ideas, and sometimes throwing out the rulebook altogether. Programs like these emphasize innovation, help students create sustainable corporate cultures, and foster the attitudes that push boundaries and tackle big issues. 

There’s no one answer that will fit everyone. The rare few might not need any education. Most can benefit from it but may only need a bachelor’s degree. Many may go the MBA route and others might get a real-life MBA by combining an undergraduate degree with some experience working for another entrepreneur before they get started on their own venture. The important thing is to step back. Think about who you are, what makes you tick, what lights your fire, how you operate, and what you plan to accomplish. Being sure in these areas will help you decide what type of learning will work best for you.  

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