Do you have to go to college to be an entrepreneur? You might think not. After all, there are some high-profile entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg who never finished their college degrees, so doesn’t that show that college is a waste of time.
Absolutely not. Sure, there are one or two famous entrepreneurs who didn’t get a degree, but those individuals are extremely rare exceptions. The economy is continuing to change dramatically and increasingly, entrepreneurs who do not have the right skills are at a disadvantage, particularly when it comes to the latest marketing theories and the most effective ways to use technology. College can not only give you useful and important skills and experience, it can also be a good way to start networking and can help you to clarify which business areas you want to become involved in.
Where to study
The traditional route to study, is of course, to apply to a college, hope you get accepted and move to the campus for three or four years. The good news is that there are a huge variety of colleges out there, catering for every type of course and learning style. The bad news is, of course, that college comes with tuition fees and other costs, which can be tough, particularly for students from poorer backgrounds.
However, there are other options when it comes to obtaining your college diploma or degree. Online college courses can offer the same level of qualification, but usually don’t require the same level of financial commitment, in terms of tuition fees, living or travel expenses. That makes online study a particularly viable and useful option for students that come from low income backgrounds.
What to study
Once you’ve decided which type of college you want to go to, the next step is to pick your course. There is an almost infinite variety of options out there, with some college degrees including more than one of these subject areas, but if you want to be a competitive entrepreneur in the modern economy, then you must consider the following options:
Finance and accounting
This is the part of being an entrepreneur that tends to get overlooked, as its not particularly exciting. I mean, accountancy is for accountants, right? Wrong. Few things are more important to any business than budgeting, paying your taxes and managing your tax flow. No matter how dynamic and imaginative you are as an entrepreneur, if you haven’t got a grasp of the practical basics of how a business operates, you are seriously harming your chances of success.
In the modern economy, marketing is an absolutely essential tool for entrepreneurs. It doesn’t matter how good your product, or your company is, if you can’t find a way to tell your target audience all about it in a compelling way, you won’t succeed. Engaging with an increasingly sophisticated customer base is tough. By learning essential marketing skills, you will have the ability to develop and target your product in such a way that your audience will be engaged.
Economics for business
A little like finance and accounting, economics is something that can be overlooked by those keen to establish their entrepreneurial careers, but a good economics course or module can be invaluable, providing you with insight into how the various parts of the economy work, from production to consumption, as well as helping you to understand how government policies, regulations and external events can affect the economy, and in turn, the way that your business operates.
Master public speaking
This may not appear to be an essential course for a budding entrepreneur, but the ability to speak with confidence and fluency in public can provide a real boost for your career. There will be many occasions as an entrepreneur when you may have the opportunity to pitch your products or ideas to an audience, perhaps of potential investors or customers. Being able to do so confidently, without any of the nervous traits that can characterise the inexperienced public speaker, can help you to create a strong impression and boost your chances of success. So, it is always a good idea to consider adding an element of public speaking practice or technique to your college study.
A college education is no guarantee of business success, but in the modern economy, having the right skills from the start of your entrepreneurial career can ensure that you aren’t at a disadvantage with your peers, and can help you to realise your dreams.