While there are many different ways to prepare yourself to become an entrepreneur, I recommend focusing on opportunities that help you develop key qualities. Most entrepreneurs share these traits: imagination, courage, integrity, leadership, work-ethic and accountability. Pursuing a professional license or graduate degree can only help with building on some of these qualities. Here's how.
Most professional licenses require that you have integrity or develop it during the evaluation process. For example, before I started BIDaWIZ, I studied and worked hard to become a CPA and registered securities analyst. Besides gaining a deep understanding of accounting and financial services, the governing bodies require that members uphold a certain level of ethical standards. You are tested on it and monitored as you practice in the profession. Without question, this training helps develop a strong sense of ethics and integrity. Of course, these are also important qualities to employees, investors, customers and vendors of your business.
In addition to integrity, I believe these licenses help you develop strong analytical skills. As an entrepreneur, you don't have a lot of time to focus on any one area because you're likely wearing multiple hats. When making a decision as an entrepreneur, it's critical to be able to analyze a situation at a high-level either qualitatively or quantitatively. There have been a number of occasions when our company was negotiating with a vendor or partner and certain information was provided that I was able to quickly digest and act on. I don't know that I would have been able to do this without my prior experience and background.
Leveraging existing relationships can also go along with helping an entrepreneur start their own business. Having a network of other trusted professionals will certainly come in handy when you need an introduction to a prospective partner or client. Specifically, association with professional groups or a graduate program can help you develop credibility with that prospect.
Lastly, it's important to note that you can't possibly learn it all by obtaining a professional license or graduate degree. Certain traits such as imagination, passion and courage are more inherent in nature and built over time as opposed to being a result of specific training. As they often say, there are some things that simply cannot be taught.