When people think of “starting a business,” often the first thing that comes to mind is a business degree. Yes, That’s it! They simply think that a business degree is the first step to starting a business.
That may have been true in the past, but it was never the only part of building a successful business. Those who have reached the top often do have a degree, and probably advanced degrees like an MBA. But they also have traits that they have honed outside of a classroom. It’s the combination of everything they have learned that has probably led to their success.
And let’s be honest here: you’re considering going into a business and being successful at it, right? Nobody wants to put in the time and effort to starting a business just for it to purposely fail.
In light of the above considerations, I would say that the quick answer to the title question is…maybe. I think the key is whether you are looking at a college education as a means to a degree or merely taking a few classes for informational purposes.
Street smarts matter
There are people who have multiple PhDs who can barely function in a social setting. Book smarts aren’t always the avenue to useful learning. It all depends on your choice of business.
Knowing what people want and how to deliver a product that meets those needs can be a totally instinctual asset. You don’t have to sit in a classroom to understand that people want to get healthy and stay fit (for example).
Just by being aware of the world around you and gaining information from multiple sources, you can come up with a winning idea. There are certainly several articles online that give you “steps to success” or “how-to” advice. Additionally, there are numerous businesses that you can in turn engage to help you set everything up. Some of them will even keep things running for you.
So in some cases, starting a business could simply be a matter of hitting the right idea at the right time and running with it.
What can college add?
There are some aspects of a college education that can help in starting a business, and they should be considered regardless of how awesome the initial business idea seems.
One thing a college education can show is that you have a commitment to following through on something that is important to you. If you’re starting a business late in life, gaining a college education can also prove (mostly to yourself) that you can balance your time between life and school. This is a good indicator of how you might fit a business into an already busy lifestyle.
Even with the growth of technology and expansion of online retailing, there are some business tenets that have remained constant. Taking an upper-level class in Business Marketing or Business Cycles could give you great insight into how trends have worked in the past, while also showing future prospects. This alone could help you get ahead of someone trying to do it all via instinct.
Marketing and Economics.
You may have fresh, unique ideas, but if you don’t understand how to market them, you’re not likely to get very far. Having a basic understanding of Marketing from even entry-level college classes can give you the basis to build an effective business plan.
Understanding supply and demand and market saturation are also important factors to consider. In a sea of entrepreneurs, some may have had the same business idea as you, so how do you surpass the others and survive? Especially when the economy falters or people’s attention turns elsewhere? Classes that address these issues can be vital to business longevity.
Wrapping it up.
So, to summarize, no, I don’t think that you need a college education to start a business. There are certainly several avenues available where you can learn important aspects that are tailored to your business area of choice.
Depending on your choice of business, you may be able to get it up and running AND grow it successfully without ever setting foot in a college classroom.
However, if you want the tools that can help you grow, achieve greatness in your business, as well as giving it longevity, you may want to consider taking a few college classes. Maybe at your local community college level to enhance and sharpen your inherent business skills.
It’s really not an either/or choice. You need to honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. You need to take a look at your business plan, and then make decisions that will give your business the best chance of getting off the ground and continue to grow for the future.
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