How Useful Is a Business Education for the Aspiring Entrepreneur?

You don't need a business degree to launch a company, but it will come in very handy if you want to be hired by a company.

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How Useful Is a Business Education for the Aspiring Entrepreneur?
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Guest Writer
B2B Copywriter for E-Commerce Businesses at
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When one plans to start their own business, no one will ask about their education. No one cares about the fact that Richard Branson dropped out of high school. He had intuition on how businesses work and he built a few successful ones through some trial and error.

Would Richard Branson make fewer mistakes if he'd gotten his business degree? Maybe. Would he become a safer player who makes fewer risks? Maybe. It’s a hypothetical situation. What we know is this: Richard Branson did not get his degree, and he became a successful entrepreneur despite that.

Elon Musk, on the other hand, got his degree. At this moment, he doesn’t seem like the most successful entrepreneur, does he? He became a billionaire, but he also made serious mistakes that proper education should’ve prevented. Yes; we’re talking about the online speculation that led to fraud charges.

Are these two examples enough for us to claim that business education is unnecessary? Of course not! Richard Branson did not become successful because he dropped out of college. Elon Musk didn’t make that mistake because he graduated with a bachelor of arts in economics.

These stories were a combination of multiple factors that make education practically irrelevant. So where does this take us on the issue about the need for business education?

Of course, there are some benefits to it. Through writing projects, for example, the students at business school learn to write persuasively. For an entrepreneur who’s going to write tons of business proposals and presentations, that’s clearly an important skill to obtain. But do you have to go through years of schooling for it?

Related: Do Your Kids Really Need College?

Is business education efficient?

In 2017, the University of Wisconsin's School of Business announced it was reviewing its business programs. The process could end with the suspension of the MBA program in favor of more specialized degrees that would take less time to complete. That plan was eventually suspended and the MBA program is still available at the school.

But this brings us to a question: If one of the oldest and most reputable MBA programs was at risk of being suspended, doesn’t that mean there’s something really wrong with the business education in this country?

This is what Anne P. Massey, dean of Wisconsin School of Business, said: “We will move forward with discussions on how to grow the undergraduate program and expand the graduate portfolio while simultaneously strengthening the full-time MBA experience.”

There are flaws in the current system. The preparation for an MBA degree takes too long and involves too many unnecessary things. Yes; the students have to gain business writing skills and they will have to write several projects to develop those skills. But does that mean that several essays, research papers, case studies, book reports and other types of papers are needed for every single course they take? When they get buried under so many projects, it’s easy for them to lose the course of direction and give up on the education goals.

The purpose of business education is to train aspiring entrepreneurs and make them ready to face the world of business. They are being taught to work in simulated situations of high pressure. They have to learn about finance, strategy and marketing, so they will be able to start and maintain a successful business.

But is anyone teaching them about self-confidence, risk, curiosity and energy? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Part-time and specialized programs in finances, marketing and accounting can offer even more attention to detail, while leaving the student with space to work on their personal aspects of becoming leaders.

Related: 21 Success Tips for Young and Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Why business school matters.

Business school is not going to teach you what kind of business to start and how to bring it to stardom. It will give you the details on how things work in the business world. It will give you the facts. What you do with those facts is your own business.

The facts are important as long as you know what you need them for. Filling your mind with facts without directing them toward a specific purpose is useless. But when you know exactly what kind of business you want to start, proper education will help you bring that idea to life. According to a global survey that investigated the main reasons for MBA applicants to pursue such a degree, these were the highlights:

  1. Improving career prospects
  2. Learning new skills
  3. Obtaining a leadership position
  4. Building a professional network

These were the top reasons for pursuing an MBA. Nearly two-thirds -- 63.4 percent, to be specific -- of the respondents said that improving career prospects was important for them. These people already have a focus and need this education to support their journey.

Business education may not be necessary for aspiring entrepreneurs, but it’s certainly useful. If we take Richard Branson, Steve Jobs or other business stars without degrees as examples, we can’t say they were ignorant. They got their education; they just didn’t go down the traditional road. The traditional way still is effective as long as you know what you want. That being said, the educational system definitely needs improvements. We need shorter, more focused programs that won’t break people’s enthusiasm.

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