4 Reasons to Get Your Business Degree
as an Entrepreneur
Some careers offer a clear path. If you want to be a doctor, you enroll in medical school. To practice law, you study in law school. Entrepreneurship is a little more nebulous. In fact, some of the most famous entrepreneurs you can name — Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Andrew Carnegie — took circuitous and unconventional routes to success. But there's a problem with just looking at this handful of examples: these are names we know because they were the exception to the rule. They blazed a trail where there wasn't one and that requires nearly once-in-a-generation luck.
For the rest of us, there's a better way to tip the scales in our favor and that's by getting a business degree. Let's dive into a few reasons why this is true.
1. Business Schools Offer Practical Skills
Entrepreneurs are filled with lofty ideas and big dreams. And they should be. It's those crazy ideas that give life to inventions that change the world forever. However, realizing those dreams means buttressing them with all sorts of nitty-gritty, ground-level work. In fact, sometimes it's true that the bigger the idea, the more pragmatic underpinnings it needs.
For instance, you might have an idea bouncing around in your head that's going to revolutionize an entire industry but no one is going to write you a check unless you can come up with a business plan that makes it a viable investment. Likewise, without a well-drawn budget, your business will rattle off the tracks before you know it.
Business schools teach these pragmatic skills, helping students understand how to write an effective business plan, how to suss out competitors and how to manage financials including mundane things like spreadsheets, budgets, reports, projections and compliance documents.
2. Business Schools Teach Wisdom
The iSmell, a device that would release scents into the air as you surfed the web, was set to be the next big thing. The entrepreneurs behind it had raised $20 million dollars in no time and poured everything they had into developing a device that worked like a charm and was beautiful to look at. The iSmell was relatively affordable, easy to use and ready to work with a number of prominent websites at launch. To the investors and everyone involved, it was foolproof.
Except they forgot to answer one important question — did anybody want it? They neglected to do market research and it doomed them. The product tanked like no other device before it, ultimately being named one of the 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time by PC World.
Business schools include workshops and product launch trials that help students put their ideas to the sniff test. They help them understand the due diligence that's involved in every endeavor in business and they stress the importance of balancing risk with reward.
3. Business Schools Teach Failure
For entrepreneurs, failure is a necessary evil, a not-so-comforting companion that's always going to be there. The great entrepreneurs learn how to accept its inevitability, make friends with it and ultimately learn from it. In the real world, though, failure on a big scale is a lesson you might only get to learn once or twice before you're bankrupt and out of investors.
Business schools offer a safe place to fail and learn from those failures. If an idea of yours doesn't work, your losses are minimal; you can cut them, learn the lesson and start over without much trouble.
4. Business Schools Teach Soft Skills
Perhaps even more than practical skills, soft skills — things like communication, leadership and teamwork — are what make an entrepreneur and a business successful. Recognizing this, business schools are now including them in curricula and offering opportunities that allow students to develop them. Some might teach the theoretical importance of soft skills in the classroom while others set up real-world scenarios where students and mentors work together on projects and emphasize people skills, character traits, common sense and emotional intelligence.
Of course, everyone's path is different. For a select group, education might not be necessary. For some, an associate's, a bachelor's or just coursework in business may be enough to get off the ground. For many others, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a wise choice.
The important thing is to zoom out, take a hard look at your strengths and weaknesses, what ignites your passion, what goals you have and, most importantly, who you are deep down. This self-awareness will not only help you decide what path is right for you, but it may also help you be a better entrepreneur.