Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I Want To Be An Entrepreneur … Do I Need A Business Degree?

There is a common misconception out there that if you want to be an entrepreneur then there is not much value for you in a traditional business degree.  Aspiring entrepreneurs may see higher education as a distraction of time and money that would be better spent focusing on their start up.  So, we will address the misconception—why would a would-be entrepreneur earn a business degree?

First, when entrepreneurs, who are naturally wired a little differently than most in terms of their drive, perseverance, and risk-taking, receive the foundation in business emphasized in the Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management concentration of our Business Administration program, they acquire a broader skill set for the adventure upon which they are embarking. They are more readily able to tackle the diverse challenges and risks associated with running a business, outside of the unique skills they already bring to the table, and thus are more realistic, calculated, and successful in their endeavors.

For many potential entrepreneurs, so much of what holds them back from achieving their goals stems from a fear of failure, which then turns into a fear of trying. What you gain from the Peirce concentration in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management is a solid foundation and a laboratory to test ideas with professors and classmates. You learn the theories, and then you put them right into practice to see how they work, and how you specifically can make them work for your unique entrepreneurial scenario. This gives you the confidence to take calculated risks, apply the knowledge, and turn those entrepreneurial dreams into reality.

But what about THOSE guys? They didn’t have degrees…

Another classic misconception when it comes to entrepreneurs and business degrees is that some of the greatest business founders of our time were early university dropouts. Steve Jobs. Mark Zuckerberg. Bill Gates. There was not a degree among them when they started their now iconic companies.

There are a few ways to diffuse this one. First, by looking at the outliers, of which Steve, Mark, and Bill certainly are, you will rarely find a blueprint for success. For every Jobs, Zuckerberg, or Gates, there are millions of aspiring entrepreneurs without degrees who are not successful in their endeavors.

Next, there is the concept of 10,000 hours, which is roughly how long it takes to master a craft. In each of their cases, these gentlemen easily logged that amount of time in computer science, programming, and the world of technology, which was the basis of their companies. To compensate for their lack of degree, each of these titans also had college educated business minds by their side; they made sure that while they were focusing on their core competencies (such as computer programming), they had experts in business guiding them along the way. Without those yins to their yang, these companies may not have reached the staggering heights that they were able to achieve over the past several decades.

At Peirce, our entrepreneurship education is interwoven within the business administration degree program. You get the benefit of a solid business foundation – the accounting, finance, management, marketing, core business principals – along with an understanding of economics, and how commerce works at a macro and micro level.

We then expand on that by then channeling our students into the applied learning process by taking some of the theoretical concepts and applying them to entrepreneurial and small business scenarios. What students experience in our entrepreneur classes is in a safe environment, a laboratory of sorts, where we explore ideas, research them, and apply the concepts that we have learned. By doing this, students are able to better craft projections of where they think their business concept could go.

It is this safe environment, along with real-time feedback from our professors (some of whom here at Peirce are also successful entrepreneurs and business owners themselves), that can help to foster the entrepreneurial spirit, dispel the fear of failure, and set you up with a bedrock of business knowledge to help ensure success.

To learn more about how a degree can support your entrepreneurial endeavors, visit the Business Administration, Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management Degree page on the Peirce website.