Are you full of ideas for products and services that could make everyone’s lives easier? Do you love reading books about famous innovators who built their own companies? Do you have trouble just following the rules when you’re constantly thinking of ways to reinvent them and make them better? Are you disciplined and persistent? If so, then you might be suited to becoming an entrepreneur.
Not everyone is meant to live their lives as an employee. Entrepreneurship can be a great option for people who get bored of simply doing what they’re told and bringing home a paycheck. Although most startups don’t take off in the way companies like Facebook and Apple did, a few do–1.28% of startups become “unicorns” (less than 10 years old and valued at $1 billion or more)–creating the opportunity for uncapped income.
Where Do You Start?
Entrepreneurship is an extremely difficult career path to take, involving many challenges and failures along the way. Many people just don’t have what it takes. However, it’s also incredibly rewarding to build your own company from the ground up and see your business grow and change. If you think you might have the drive and persistence needed to build a business, then you’re probably wondering how to start. Not everyone who creates a successful company goes to college, but getting your degree can give you a leg up in the process by training you in critical thinking and giving you important skills you’ll need as an entrepreneur. Here are some of the best degrees to help you succeed as a self-employed business owner.
Let’s start with the most obvious. If you’re thinking about starting a business, getting a bachelor’s degree in business will give you an overview of the way companies run, management skills, analysis and communications, and other skills needed to be successful in business. Some schools even offer degrees in entrepreneurship! With that said, a business degree is definitely not the only option for entrepreneurs, especially if you’re considering an MBA after you’ve completed your undergraduate degree–people from all different backgrounds excel in masters’ programs. Business degrees can be great for entrepreneurs, but it’s a good idea to explore other options as well.
Marketing, English, or Communications
No one is going to buy your product or service if you can’t communicate the value of what you’re selling and spread the word effectively. Having a background in marketing is very helpful, because you’ll know the principles of what works and what doesn’t in bringing in new business. English and communications are also good degree options for entrepreneurs, because they require critical thinking and writing skills, both of which are essential for entrepreneurial success. English is one of the most versatile degrees, as quality writing and strong analysis skills are great tools for entrepreneurs to have, no matter what kind of business they start.
Being a business owner involves communicating with others on a regular basis. Knowing the psychology of why people do what they do can help you become a better communicator, negotiator, and leader. As an entrepreneur, you will need to be persuasive and sensitive to the needs of others–a degree in psychology will give you a deeper look into how people think and what motivates them.
The harsh reality is that 70% of small businesses fail within 10 years, and 82% of those failures are at least partially due to cash flow issues. The “lean startup” concept isn’t just trendy–it’s essential. Getting a degree in finance can be a good choice for entrepreneurs, because founders need to have in-depth knowledge and a realistic view of the finances involved with their business, including investment capital and money management. Yes, most founders won’t be fully managing the company’s money forever, but those with a finance degree will understand it and be wiser when it comes to expenditures–which could mean the difference between success and failure.
Beyond the Bachelor’s: Considering an MBA
If you’ve already got a bachelor’s degree and you’re interested in taking your business education to the next level with an MBA, you’ll be happy to know that MBAs come from all different backgrounds. If you’d like to pursue an MBA, the first step is to prepare for and take the GMAT test. Your results are good for five years, so if you want to get some experience in the business world, or even start working on your company, you won’t necessarily have to take it again to get into an MBA program. After you have your results, you can start applying to MBA programs of your choice. Each program has its own requirements, so do your research!
Entrepreneurship as a Career
Just because you hear stories about famous entrepreneurs who dropped out of school, that doesn’t mean that finishing college isn’t worthwhile for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is about trial and error, analysis, fortitude, and creativity–all skills that can be improved through earning a degree.
Ryan Ayers has been a consultant for over five years within multiple industries including information technology, medical devices and logistics. Many clients call him the BizTech Guru. He is a freelance writer on the side and lover of all things related to business, technology, innovation and the LA Clippers. Read more from Ryan: @TheBizTechGuru
All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com.