You don’t have to look far to find inspirational stories of daring entrepreneurs who risked everything by dropping out of college (often Harvard, it seems) and founding a company that changed the world.
Bill Gates did it. So did Mark Zuckerberg. That both those men grew up in relative affluence and would almost certainly have done just fine had they not founded Microsoft and Facebook, respectively, doesn’t change the import of their achievement.
Don’t take the wrong lessons from their example, though. Better to treat these wildly successful entrepreneurs as outliers than inspirations.
If dropping out to found the next world-changing company isn’t your best course of action, what is? Simple. If it’s not too late, choose or change your degree path to reflect one of these seven ideal credentials for entrepreneurs.
- Event Planning and Management
- Business Administration
- Strategic Communications
- Web Development or Design
This one should be no surprise. Plenty of successful entrepreneurs (and non-founder executives) have economics degrees, and it’s not hard to understand why. If you plan to grow your business beyond its home market, you’ll need to understand how goods and services flow across borders and boundaries.
Do you get a rush from flawless execution? You’d be a good fit for an event planning and/or management degree from post-secondary institutions like this arts and technology school, which specializes in practical, career-oriented degrees for creatives. Your event planning and management specialty will come in handy down the road, when you’re keeping multiple balls in the air at the company’s you’ve founded.
Here’s another no-brainer. Business administration is among the most common post-secondary degrees, period, and even more so for aspiring entrepreneurs. These days, the fundamentals of sound management are undersold; entrepreneurs tend to do better with such a base.
What do strategic communications majors do after graduating? What don’t communications majors do after graduating is probably a better question. Entrepreneurs with the confidence and capability to clearly and effectively communicate with vendors and prospects tend to do better than those that expect their products and services to sell themselves — a risky proposition in any industry.
Web developers are the plumbers of the Internet — and that’s not a bad thing. It’s actually a really, really good thing for competent devs, for whom high-paying work is never ending. Same goes for those in design, a great pursuit for creatives. For entrepreneurs, a firm understanding of either (and ideally both) goes a long way toward sound positioning in a competitive market.
Want to understand your customers and employees? ‘Nuff said.
Marketing is basically psychology by another name, isn’t it? Close enough. A strong marketing background gives entrepreneurs insight into what makes customers tick before they even know who their customers are.
Set Yourself Up for Success
An in-demand degree or certification can do a lot for your career, but it won’t magically open every door that presently appears shut. It’s up to you to put in the hours and hours of hard work necessary to complete your education on time and (ideally) with distinction. Likewise, it’s on you to chart the course for your post-university business career. Entrepreneurship is tireless work; you’ll know soon enough whether you truly have what it takes.