Whether you’re planning to study for a mainstream business degree or you have your eye on a master of business administration degree, the question always comes up whether an entrepreneur or a future entrepreneur will benefit from taking the course. Certainly, it’s not an inexpensive decision and the time commitment is substantial over several years, so clearly it has to be worth it in many different ways.
Let’s look how a business degree can help entrepreneurs in their business goals and dreams.
A business degree provides a useful framework for entrepreneurs who may be creative but who lack real-world experience and the ability to turn a myriad of ideas into practical, workable plans. The coursework of a business degree runs through many real-world case studies and scenarios that help all students (entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs alike) connect the dream to the reality in a useful way.
Whether it’s learning to write a useful business plan that will appeal to the business funding community or provide access to bank business lending facilities, being able to think in an organised way on business topics opens doors that would otherwise have remained closed.
Networking & Contacts
Many older entrepreneurs will confirm when asked that a large part of their existing network of contacts came from their college days. The time when they first studied a business course and met likeminded people who didn’t shoo them away when they dared to speak about their business ideas in public. They developed other contacts broader afield later, but it often all started at college.
The reason that these contacts tend to last is that there’s a symbiosis – a common goal – without the combative competitions that normally prevents others from making life-long business relationships a real thing. At this point in their lives, entrepreneurs who have been through a business degree before were not already caught up in a deep battle with other competitors and so didn’t mind sharing ideas openly with classmates.
Identify Great Hires Earlier
There are many people that you meet while studying for a course that become your first hires if you can come up with an interesting business concept. Alternatively, they know enough people so that you can ask around within your circle of business friends and they’ll often know a potential employee who would suit your organisation well. Doing things this way saves time and money compared to hiring through traditional employment agencies, which tack on 30-50% routinely to the base salary in the first year.
Upgrading Your Technical Skills
When you’re not the most technically minded, using a spreadsheet to work out some figures for a business plan or running some initial numbers through accounting software isn’t something that comes natively to you. You also have the issue that the sheer amount of software packages that would be useful to learn are costly to buy for the average bootstrapping entrepreneur, who is often overly keen to get started but lacks enough capital to fully fund everything they need at the start.
Establishing Early Street Credibility
Taking an online business degree through universities such as Kaplan is a useful way of establishing some credibility, especially for millennials who may lack a certain amount of previous business experience. It certainly is a boost to your confidence when you know that you’ve learned a great deal about how business is conducted even before you’ve gone into business for yourself. This is certainly something that previous higher education is unlikely to have prepared you for when not studying a business-oriented course.
A degree may also come in handy when applying for credit or seeking out investors because they may also have a business degree or an advanced one like an MBA and have some idea of what you’ve studied. Loan applications and partnership deals could happen that otherwise wouldn’t have, simply because there’s some early credibility there even before you’ve opened your doors.
Avoiding the Boneheaded Mistakes
On a related point, just like with any business, there are some obvious mistakes made by new entrepreneurs that are best avoided. When being put through business case studies and business plans that get reviewed and rated by college lecturers, you will be used to critiquing your own plans before you go out into the real world and try executing them.
For instance, one of the most frequent mistakes and causes of new businesses going bust is because they overestimate how soon they’ll generate sales and the amount of the turnover, underestimate their start-up costs, and run through their cash flow before they make a penny in profit. More experienced entrepreneurs (or business degree graduates) will know that filling your office with brand new furniture, the latest computer equipment and an abundance of staff is a great way to bleed through your funding months sooner than you planned. Quite literally, studying up on what to avoid could save your business later.
Discovering the Real You
Before we get all emotional here, what we’re talking about going through the motions enough to learn what you’re brilliant at, what you’re passable at, and what you are simply horrible at doing yourself. When you’re terrible with numbers, you learn to hire an accountant. If you cannot get your head around building a WordPress website, then hire a web developer to do it for you. Learning what you’re not good at and won’t get much better with practice is just as important as determining what is something that you excel at.
Once you have removed the time drains from your working life, you’ll be able to be far more productive doing the things that you shine at. As an entrepreneur, you’ll be happiest at this point and likely to do better as a result. Sir Richard Branson is a case in point. He’s exceptional at coming up with new business and finding inexpensive ways to drum up free publicity for his companies, but he knows better than to try to run them day-to-day. He has people do to that for him, so he’s able to focus on what he does best: Being the public face of the Virgin Group and coming up with new business strategies to go after (400+ and counting).
Understanding Your Motivations
Entrepreneurs are motivated by different things. Some are looking for more job satisfaction than they’ve had in the past as an employee. Others want a greater sense of freedom to go after the business opportunities without a boss telling them what they can and cannot do. More than a few entrepreneurs draw their motivation from having the money to buy expensive cars, holidays and adventures that they couldn’t afford unless they’re a huge success.
Whether you sign up for business classes knowing why you’re motivated to be an entrepreneur, you’ll surely know the main driving force for you after you’ve graduated. It’ll be obvious not only from how you feel about yourself but also how you react to the motivations of others (like, disgust, mild amusement).
There are many benefits to studying for a degree course. Some are obvious, but many are not immediately clear to people who haven’t received any of the benefits that come with the experience. There’s a sense of achievement that you don’t get from anything else, which is also hard to explain too.