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Photo Credit: Orsi Parkanyi

Best Degrees for Entrepreneurs? Business Owners Give Their Votes

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Choosing a college degree is one of the most important decisions in a young person’s life. The task of simply being accepted into a college and then finding yourself trying to sort through the various fields of study can be confusing and daunting. For an entrepreneur, trying to discover the ideal degree can become a baffling chore when looking ahead to the future and beyond college. Knowing which degree is going to have the greatest impact or appeal is difficult to lock down if you’re unsure as to what becomes the ideal skill set after school. Below are some tips from entrepreneurs on what the best degrees are for entrepreneurs.

 

Photo Credit: Dr. Gayle Carson

Photo Credit: Dr. Gayle Carson

A communications degree

The best degree I can think of for an entrepreneur is in some type of communication. Most business people have to make a speech in front of a group, a presentation to their team or investors and need to be quick on their feet, especially for media. I will always be grateful that was my background. I never had a business course but also think a basic program in how numbers work would be beneficial as well.

Thanks to Dr. Gayle Carson, Living Regret Free

 

Photo Credit: Joshua Weiss

Photo Credit: Joshua Weiss

MBA’s are on top

In a world with an overabundance of entrepreneurs all trying to make their mark, an MBA from Harvard stands alone. An MBA from other ivy league institutions also can set an entrepreneur apart from the muck, but Harvard is the magic word that any investor wants to hear. Of course, one can succeed without an MBA from an ivy league institution, but it gives a graduate an incredible head start. Once you start to get into the nitty gritty of the actual degree from a non-ivy league school, majoring in business or entrepreneurship and having completed internships at excellent organizations is good to have under your belt. It shows that you’re focused and have experience to hit the ground running. An economics or finance degree used to be good for your prototype entrepreneur CEO, but nowadays, that’s more a CFO’s resume.

Thanks to Joshua Weiss, TeliApp Corporation

 

Photo Credit: Chris Huse

Photo Credit: Chris Huse

A theatre degree

I would suggest a degree in Theatre of all things. The undergraduate degrees in Business and Marketing for the most part are so antiquated, that by the time you enter the workforce you have to be retrained all over again anyway. Being an entrepreneur above all else requires you to be able to think on your feet, and improvise when necessary. There is no better place to learn how to trust yourself and come up with creative ways to adapt than on the stage. Public speaking is a very big part of your everyday life as an entrepreneur, so if you can memorize and perform a 2 hour play then a earnings conference call will be a breeze.

Thanks to Chris Huse, Media Strike

 

Photo Credit: Joseph Shermam

Photo Credit: Joseph Shermam

Ethnic and cultural studies

As the Social Media Manager for an organization with 1.5 million supporters on Facebook, and as an Executive Director for an organization in an emerging market, I have found that Ethnic and Cultural Studies combined with Business opens many doors. Businesses of the Future are founded on communities of people – fans, members and, supporters. These communities have their own culture, customs and dialects. These communities evolve on a small (and sometimes large) scale the way societies and nations change. Nation building turned fragmented clusters of tribes and city-states into kingdoms, empires, and modern countries. A business education with ethnic and cultural studies can turn small entrepreneurship into a network of supporters.

Thanks to Joseph Shermam, United With Israel

 

Photo Credit: Bob Shirilla

Photo Credit: Bob Shirilla

Marketing degree

A Marking Degree provides broad knowledge in all business aspects, such as Accounting, Business Management, Information Technology, and Supply Chain Management. These skills are required to run your own business. However the key focus of Marketing is to develop products and services that fulfill consumers desires and then make them available at the right places, at the right times and at competitive prices. Providing products that customers will purchase is the foundation of any business and the owner needs to drive that process.

Thanks to Bob Shirilla, Simply Bags

 

Photo Credit: Orsi Parkanyi

Photo Credit: Orsi Parkanyi

IT, Engineering or Science degree

From the many conversations I have had with thousands of women entrepreneurs over the past few years, I gathered that while having a business degree is a great help when it comes to starting a business, in today’s economy, getting an IT, Engineering or Science degree can be an even better decision. Critical thinking, common sense gained from Science and IT knowledge have assisted many online entrepreneurs/startup women and men on their journeys and lead them to success.

Thanks to Orsi Parkanyi, Women as Entrepreneurs

 

Photo Credit: Elle Kaplan

Photo Credit: Elle Kaplan

A creativity degree

The best degree for an entrepreneur is anything that feeds their creativity. There is no one-size-fits-all degree or path to entrepreneurship. The best option is no different from what will ultimately make them successful as a business owner- they should pursue their passions and interests. I studied Chemistry and English (prior to getting a graduate degree in finance). Both of those degrees honed my analytic skills, my ability to sort through data, and fed my ability to see the markets a little differently. That unique vision is the secret to my success.

Thanks to Elle Kaplan, Lexion Capital Management

 

Photo Credit: Dr. Deborah A. Osgood

Photo Credit: Dr. Deborah A. Osgood

A degree to coincide with your product

The best degree program for an entrepreneur is a degree in the area that represents the core product/service being offered. For example, if you want to go into your own medical practice, get a medical degree. If you want to go into business in some area of information technology, get a degree in technology. If you want to open a child care center, get a degree in child care, and so on. Success in business is first about having a product/service that someone will buy, second about being able to provide it well enough to earn a profit, and then about having the business acumen to support sustainability and growth. In short, become the best in your field and then leverage free public business assistance programs like SCORE Counselors to America’s Small Businesses, and Small Business Development Centers to develop the business acumen. At the heart of business acumen is knowing at any point in time whether your venture is profitable or not.

Thanks to Dr. Deborah A. Osgood, Knowledge Institute, Inc.

 

Photo Credit: Chike Uzoka

Photo Credit: Chike Uzoka

Chose a ‘hands on’ degree program

As an entrepreneur who is seriously contemplating returning to school for graduate studies, I’d have to say the best degrees for entrepreneurs are the ones that deal with more than just theory. Degree programs that have a hands-on curriculum are best, being an entrepreneur isn’t a job, it’s a mindset, and if someone wants to succeed at it, they need to have a real-life, hands-on approach to it. Masters degree programs that have a Business or Entrepreneurship focus (ex. Emory University, Atlanta) are great options. Also, certificate programs at some universities have served well for some entrepreneurs that I know.

Thanks to Chike Uzoka, Valentine Global, LLC

 

Photo Credit: Mark Volkmann

Photo Credit: Mark Volkmann

A degree with useful tools for you

My first entrepreneurial venture came when I had to fund a summer of road cycling competition in Europe while a poor college student. Since those early lessons of turning a need into profit, I have learned through my two successful startups that having a solid idea for something people need and the passion to pursue it are just as important as a degree. And finding those good ideas generally comes from a lot of experiences – with people, with activity, with adventure, with business, with charity… and a true entrepreneur will always recognize the opportunity to improve those experiences with a new business idea. I have a bachelor’s degree in finance, and I believe there is benefit to understanding the basics … if for no other reason than to determine you have the “business mind” to comprehend complex financials beyond profit and loss. My advice? Get a degree that offers useful tools for the industry you are most interested in. Supplement it with some solid business courses. And after that, focus on being involved and paying attention.

Thanks to Mark Volkmann, MassageBook

 

Photo Credit: Daniel Offer

Photo Credit: Daniel Offer

Accounting and Finance

Personally, I think that Accounting and Finance is the best degree that an aspiring entrepreneur can take. Whilst back in 2005 I selected this course at the University of Warwick with the intention of heading towards Investment Banking, the financial crisis of 2008 changed my plans. I found myself with few work opportunities but plenty if knowledge about what it took to run a business. In my opinion, whilst many other people would argue that IT, engineering or a “doing” subject is better the reality is that most businesses fail within two years. That’s not due to a lack of knowledge in what they do, that’s due to a lack of business acumen. Though there is no need for an entrepreneur too be an expect in each area of his or her business, there is a need to know how to run a business – what your legal, tax and other obligations are. So, for example, I specialised in business tax and law within the accounting and finance degree. The degree also included a management component. As such, when I launched a business I understood the legal and tax implications of what I was doing and didn’t have to consult expensive outside professionals. Also, I put myself in a position whereby when the business started to bring in money I was able to outsource marketing, programming and design whilst effectively being able to negotiate and manage my business. If you look at the two most successful Entrepreneurship within IT for example (Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates), even they replaced themselves and had to deal with management and accounting considerations eventually.

Thanks to Daniel Offer, Athena IT Limited

 

Photo Credit: Ben Patton

Photo Credit: Ben Patton

Business School cannot be emphasized enough

I studied at Wharton and can’t emphasize enough the value of business school for an entrepreneur. Earning a degree related to business, whether it is in administration, finance, marketing, etc. is most suitable for budding entrepreneurs The topics you’ll study and potential cases studies you’ll review will help prepare you for challenges you’ll when running your own business. That said, I also want to emphasize getting started in business at a young age. As a teenager I began managing my parents rental properties. I started with mowing the lawn and small maintenance and eventually handled all showings and lease agreements. I gained enough knowledge and experience to negotiate and buy my first investment property by the time I was 19 years old. Once I was in college my real life work experience gave me a leg up on my classmates and allowed me to understand transactions as they actually occur rather than how they’re taught in a text book. Regardless of what field you are pursuing, make sure you get as involved as you can from an early age (even if you work for free); the things you learn at a young age will is like compounding interest – nothing is more powerful.

Thanks to Ben Patton, Integrity Hospital

 

Photo Credit: Craig Griffiths

Photo Credit: Craig Griffiths

An economics degree

The best degree for an entrepreneur is an economics degree. Especially if you look at economics as a social science and not a mathematics discipline. Economics can look at the human impact of decisions as well as human reactions. I think of economics as a massive set of “What if” statements. Being trained to think in this way allows you to see what may happen and what opportunities will exist if your assumptions hold true. There is a story told in economics of a British Governor in India putting a bounty on Cobras. He thought this would be a way of reducing numbers. Instead it spawned a Cobra breeding industry. An economist would have seen that as a consequence of a bounty.

Thanks to Craig Griffiths, Griffiths Creative

 

 

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