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How to improve an entrepreneur’s chances
The public stories of many entrepreneurs often focus around the rags to riches, or dropout to the leader, trajectory. From Mark Zuckerberg to Richard Branson, many of the most famous global business leaders have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps in one way or another.
However, this obscures another key perspective: it’s actually more than possible to secure success as an entrepreneur by taking the educational route.
From the colleges here in the US offering Master of Business Administration (MBA) courses to the business-friendly critical thinking skills that many humanities subjects offer, there are lots of ways that education can give an entrepreneur a helping hand.
This article will explore these options in more depth and share some ideas for boosting your entrepreneurial career through learning.
The most obvious degree choice for those who are looking to move into the world of entrepreneurship is to study for an MBA or a Master of Business Administration. These degrees are some of the most prestigious in the business world, and they’re taken both by those who want to strike out on their own and also by those who want to rise through the ranks within a corporation.
MBAs differ from college to college, but they all have some common entrepreneurship-friendly hallmarks. MBA students look at different models of leadership, for example, and how to motivate teams to action. They also study a number of corporate finance tools, such as simple accountancy techniques.
With other skills such as strategy, management and risk-taking all taught at most MBA destinations, it’s well worth considering if you’re planning to take the educational route into entrepreneurship.
Leading US MBA colleges to include New York University’s Stern School of Business and the University of Chicago’s Business School, but there are plenty more excellent institutions all over the country.
In recent years, the word “entrepreneurship” has largely become tied up with technology. Many of the most successful start-ups in recent years are based in Silicon Valley and have a strong tech focus – so a technology degree can certainly get you access to the entrepreneurship world.
Starting your own tech company doesn’t necessarily require coding or developer skills as you can hire someone to do that for you – but without a basic understanding of these principles, you might struggle to carry out founder tasks such as quality assurance and team oversight. Remember, though, that this doesn’t necessarily have to be college-based in nature.
Many non-college organizations such as General Assembly teach coding, for example, and you can even teach it yourself using one of the many open source curricula available on the web.
Essays and writing
There’s no need to restrict yourself to a technology degree if you’re planning to become a start-up founder, though. In fact, there are plenty of other options available – and one of these is to go down the transferable skills route and choose a degree that provides important critical thinking skills.
An essay writing subject, such as history, literature or philosophy, may not at first glance seem to be the right fit for an entrepreneur. However, they can actually make the life of an entrepreneur much easier.
They teach, for example, the skill of problem-solving – and in a busy start-up environment with lots to tackle, this can be invaluable. As a founder, you’re also likely to spend a lot of your time pitching for investment – and this will require both verbal and written argument skills.
You’ll also need to be able to defend your ideas and plans when required, and the experience of a debate in a humanities class at a leading college is a great way to pick up this skill.
Going to college is certainly not a prerequisite to becoming an entrepreneur, however, and there are plenty of reasons to choose a different learning path. College is, of course, expensive – and from a business point of view, it may well seem like an unnecessary cost.
There are also lots of ways to access similar learning experiences without actually going to college. Mentorship is one benefit that may even be easier to find outside of the academic-focused environments of many colleges: enrolling in the Sigma Chi fraternity is one way to do it, and this option includes everything from retreats to workshops designed to boost your entrepreneurial skills.
While some entrepreneurs may like to emphasize the fact that they were running a lemonade stand from the age of five, the reality of entrepreneurship is a little bit more complicated than that. In truth, many entrepreneurs are actually highly educated.
Whether that’s through an essay-focused college degree, an MBA, a mentorship fraternity or something else altogether, the background and profiles of modern American entrepreneurs are just as diverse and varied as the companies they now run.