Education is extremely important for entrepreneurs but there are many ways in which an entrepreneur can get an education – and perhaps, in the conventional sense of the term, meaning a formal academic education that involves exams, coursework and going to college… this might not be the best route for aspiring entrepreneurs.
There are many ways to get an education and some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world are famous for being college dropouts, or didn’t even start walking down the path of formal education such as Richard Branson. It makes us ask the question, how important is education for business?
Is education important for business?
Whilst it’s incredibly important all entrepreneurs advance their knowledge and skills in the form of getting an education the majority of entrepreneurs do so organically; as at their core, they are problem solvers and spend their time investigating potential solutions. In this way, they are part detective and part inventor – both require a substantial amount of knowledge, but usually, this knowledge is focused on a very specific area of concern.
Indeed, many entrepreneur’s would find academic courses far too broad as they are by nature application focused and don’t wish to waste their time engaged in unnecessary tasks and would therefore find themselves frustrated by pointless projects and group workshops – when it’s in their blood to lead a team driven toward a specific and poignant goal.
You can study to be an entrepreneur, as it’s not an innate talent that people are born with, it’s a skill (or rather a group of skills) that can be developed by anybody wishing to learn – that said, many entrepreneurs would argue that you can’t learn to be an entrepreneur from a book, as it’s experiential learning that’s required, particularly in developing the right mindset.
Therefore learning entrepreneurship within an academic context may not be the smartest move, for entrepreneurs, as what they really need is to learn the skills and tactics in the “real world” by doing. After all, you can be book smart and know everything there is to know about a subject, yet if you can’t apply that knowledge and influence people – the knowledge becomes redundant.
Entrepreneur’s are therefore better learning from do-ers, meaning, people who have been there and done it themselves, who can give them personal advice from the trenches and prepare them for the journey ahead via the much more personal medium of coaching and mentorship, rather than the somewhat distant model of formal teaching.
It’s interesting to note that you can find many business teachers at college or university that know nothing about entrepreneurship. Their background is linear, and quite the opposite of an entrepreneur. They are not risk takers, disruptors, or innovators. They went to school, college, university and now work in the same environment. They value comfort and certainty; preferring to embrace a much more settled and financially secure life than the average entrepreneur; as they are ultimately employees.
That said, there are times when formal education can be extremely helpful, for instance, if you were to be looking to master a particular aspect of business such as supply chain management then it would be helpful to study this in-depth and in a structured way. Indeed, if you could do a supply chain management degree online this would be the best option for most entrepreneurs as it is more cost efficient, time efficient, and convenient for busy entrepreneurs.
You just need to understand there’s a need for entrepreneurs to focus more on ‘doing’ and making things happen, in the real world, rather than the more academic approach. That said there are times when the safety and soft learning environment of academia, compared to the cutthroat world of business, can be beneficial. In many ways, it’s a case of swings and roundabouts or six of one and half a dozen of the other.
The most important points to take away are that education is extremely important for entrepreneurs, yet academic education might not be the most efficient and appropriate route; that plenty of entrepreneurs don’t have a degree and are doing extremely well as a result – because their minds are shaped differently; they haven’t been conditioned to think like a compliant employee – but have had the freedom to think and feel like a business leader… but there are times when the knowledge acquired from a formal degree can be beneficial.
As a final point, remember there’s no intrinsic value in having a higher education qualification – indeed, there are plenty of people with degrees working in call centres or other minimum way jobs, and the only way to make more money in life is to create more value to other people and that’s where most successful entrepreneurs focus their time.