Starting a new business is no simple task; there are mountains of planning to do, and the initial funding has to be secured before you can even get started. Then there’s hiring, establishing supply chains, and perhaps even considering locations if it’s that sort of business. Market research can help to establish the demand for your product or service, and even figure out what your profit margins might be.
Does this all sound a bit intimidating? You’re not alone. Very few people are taught about everything that goes into running a business throughout their typical schooling. That’s why business degrees became so popular in the first place—it finally gives you a chance to learn what you need to know to succeed in the world of business. But business degrees can be pretty specific, often with a focus on areas like accounting or marketing. Is it really possible to get that big-picture education you need to kick-start a business?
To put it simply, yes. Business degree programs usually start off with the basics, teaching a bit in every critical department. This has the benefit of both offering students a chance to experience each area of business firsthand to find out how it fits them and providing them with at least a fundamental level of knowledge in all areas. If a student decides they want their business career to be in accounting after taking their first accounting class, they can easily switch into setting that up as their specialty. While that kind of specialization can certainly come in handy for someone starting a business for the first time, business owners need so much knowledge in so many areas that a specialty like that can leave a few gaps. Other specialties, like management, can be a bit more fitting since its focus is on leading employees and ensuring work gets done on time, but you may still have.
Fortunately, universities have realized this potential issue and have some options available for go-getters who are eager to launch their own business right out of the gate. A business degree with a concentration in entrepreneurship is the most typical option and tends to offer the opportunity to build up a slightly different set of skills from other business degrees. While entrepreneurship degrees will still teach the fundamentals of advertising and finance and public relationships, they also target areas that are far more important for a future business owner. They may walk you through tasks like forming a solid, workable business plan or teach about the technologies that you’ll have to work with to build a business in the modern age, such as building websites designed for digital commerce. They teach how to read the market, and when a good time to invest or expand might be. If you’re lucky, you might even be given the opportunity to do an internship with local businesses, offering the chance to build a mentor relationship and learn firsthand from their failures and successes. You’ll also be able to do plenty of networking, with professors and other students in addition to any businesses or professionals that might be working with the program.
There’s plenty of “soft skills” you can pick up in a business degree program as well, whether you go the entrepreneurial route or not. Business programs teach the kind of leadership, problem-solving, and decision-making skills that are critical to management careers, including the running of your own business. The aforementioned networking opportunities will teach you how to establish and maintain business relationships, which can be critical for a fledgling business whose survival is far from assured. While the “harder” skills and knowledge you learn while earning a degree is important for establishing a business and ensuring the numbers add up, the value of these soft skills is almost incalculable when it comes to long-term success.
A business degree does represent a substantial investment, and there’s no arguing that. But it’s an investment in yourself and in your business’s future. As the owner and founder of a business, your business’s success is the same as your own, and it depends heavily on how you guide it. By making the choice to go to school and learn the proper ways of running a business, you’re making a commitment to your future business that says, “if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right, and give this the best chance to succeed that I possibly can.” It sends a message that tells the world you believe in this idea enough to spend years preparing. What better way could there be?