Ivy League or “I’m An Entrepreneur” — Does it take an education to run a business?

International travelers will tell you that the fastest way to learn a foreign language is to simply move to another country. Successful business leaders share a similar adage – the best way to learn about business is to start your own.

So, if industry immersion can improve your chances of success, why do many American workers attend college instead of entering the real world? And if you don’t have a degree, what can you do to continue your education … while sharpening your business skills?

As entrepreneurs, our livelihood depends on a solid business strategy. That’s why it’s important to have a grasp of your individual and organizational goals as you choose the right course of action.

Ultimately, a diploma probably won’t make or break your career. Ensuring your personal and business growth is most important, and whether your education continues in the classroom or boardroom, hard work still remains the best predictor of success.

Here are a few tips and anecdotes to use as guideposts along your personal journey:

-In a recent survey, 69 percent of small business owners say they have a college degree, and 68 percent of those respondents say it has played a role in their success. Out of those respondents, many say it was helpful in expanding their knowledge and their networks. But even more important, they said, was continuing to find the right mentors and securing capital.

-The business world loves a legend. As the story goes, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and other visionaries dropped out of college to chase their dreams. Before you reference them as your totems, remember that both were highly-gifted individuals who, coupled with their tremendous intelligence, had vision and very strong work ethic.

-Traditionally, an MBA requires two years of coursework at a university or college, and positions graduates to successfully run a business. Many executive MBA programs exist as well, but the number of resources for receiving a MBA-quality keeps expanding.

Thankfully, there is plenty of alternative coursework online. Top-notch universities such as Harvard and others offer extended education classes online for free, and many leading business experts offer alternative coursework for those who are willing and ready to learn. Start by researching terms such as the “personal MBA” or the “mini MBA,” and see who can offer the best course of action to suit your needs.

-It’s worth noting that there are often tax benefits available for continuing your education. And not just for yourself, either. A large part of a manager’s duty is to put the best team together, and by providing educational opportunities for your employees, you may find that you reap the benefits, both in terms of better-educated employees, and tax breaks.

-Many entrepreneurs start with big companies and often find that they tire of the corporate environment. There’s only one problem when they decide to become entrepreneurs – they find that large organizations have NOT taught them to do more with less. This is where a mentor or incubator comes into place. Consider using the resources of an established resource, such as Growthink to help grow your skills, capital and understanding of the small business world.

About Greg Lee

A proven business performance coach with more than 30 years of corporate and small business experience, Greg A. Lee helps business leaders and owners solve their most pressing issues and take their leadership skills and business acumen to the next level.
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