There has probably never been a time in history when top entrepreneurs came from such diverse backgrounds. Many come from fields like IT or engineering, and a few never graduated. But there’s still a place for b-school graduates in business, and having a formal business formation will never be a disadvantage when you’re running a company. Let’s take a look at some of the degrees we believe are the best for current and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Let’s start with the most common, the MBA. While a lot of people have tried to diminish the relevance and importance of the MBA in the last few years, the fact remains that MBA graduates have a varied set of skills that give them a solid advantage when they run a business.
First of all, getting an MBA will give you a foundation in management theory. If you don’t have experience running a business before, you will learn the basics of planning and what makes a solid leader. This isn’t something everyone will be able to grasp on their own.
But there are many other benefits to getting an MBA that many people may not consider at first. One of them is the credibility you’ll have. This will allow you to get more credibility with potential partners, but also clients and lenders. Lenders will be more likely to fund someone with an MBA for many reasons.
For one, you’ll know exactly how to craft a sound business plan that will be realistic. You will be able to forecast better and know when you should seek financing. But they will trust someone with an MBA more because of your background.
The same goes if you decide to take on partners. If you want to give up some equity, you’ll be able to retain more of it if you have expertise. Some venture capitalists will refuse to give someone control of a business unless they have some sort of business education. So, this could end up being a great investment in your future.
Getting an MBA is also a great option if you are coming from an unrelated field, such as engineering, and want to try your hand at business. While being an engineer will give you the analytical and problem-solving skills needed to be a great entrepreneur, there are still some crucial skills that you’ll be lacking.
A common issue many engineers run into is having to juggle their professional obligations with their studies. If you have a very busy schedule, know that there are some solutions. You could get an MBA online from Kettering University for instance. This program was made specifically for engineers who want to transition to business or administrative positions. This could allow you to study either before or after your shifts, work part-time, or study part-time to keep your workload manageable.
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Accounting is one of the first degrees people think about when they want to run a business. Accountants understand businesses more than many owners do. They play an invaluable role in any company and many would’ve gone under if it wasn’t for their accountants.
Accountants also have a significant advantage when it’s time to get a partner or financing. Banks in particular will automatically trust someone who understands their business numbers more, and no one understands them better than an accountant. No one is better at forecasting or keeping expenses under control either. Lenders will expect accountants to be more conservative and responsible with the money they extend to them.
Other benefits to being an accountant include the ability to write your own financial statements, handling payroll, and avoiding compliance issues. You’ll always be on top of the most recent changes in the tax code and avoid violations, or worse.
This is another degree partners and financial institutions will love seeing. Some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs have a degree in economics, and it’s one of the best options. Someone with a knowledge of economics will have a better understanding of how local and international markets work. They will understand the flow of currencies and commodities, and how it could affect their operation now and in the future. They are also masters at forecasting and financial planning.
They can make better day-to-day decisions as well. They can know exactly if buying a piece of equipment would be a good idea, or if a company is ready for expansion, for instance. They also understand the impact of fiscal policy on their operation. All of this allows them to be ready for disruption and see issues before they happen.
If you want to go into tech, then computer science is a logical choice. All major industries automate at least some part of their processes, so you’ll be able to save time. Being able to set up your own systems, monitor them, and safeguard them will give you a massive advantage as well.
You’ll have no problem doing things like establishing a remote workplace or BYOD policies. You won’t have to outsource IT as much and will be able to limit the number of employees you have to hire if you want to hire in-house.
Not only that, but you’ll be able to build your own apps, manage your own social media, and build and administer your own website. And if you don’t want to do it yourself, you’ll at least know what the people you’re hiring are doing.
You cannot be an entrepreneur without understanding at least some aspect of marketing. Internet marketing is growing every day, and you have to know how to capitalize on it. Only marketers who are original and can use all the tools at their disposal will be successful.
You’ll learn much more than marketing techniques during your degree. You’ll also learn how to identify a target market and craft tailor-made campaigns. You’ll learn what a buyer persona is, how to build one, and why it’s so important for your business. You’ll be able to monitor your efforts and make minor or major changes to make concrete improvements.
You’ll also learn things such as which advertising or social media platform would be the best for your business or a campaign. You’ll waste much less money on failed attempts too. You’ll be able to know what would and would not work without having to constantly test new ideas. Marketers are also masters at building brand awareness, which is one of the toughest things for new owners.
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Communications is another great alternative degree that could help you become a better entrepreneur. One of the biggest aspects of being a business owner is the ability to build relationships with shareholders whether internal or external. Good communicators are also able to boost the morale of their team, are better at interviewing candidates, and are better negotiators as well.
Many of the most well-known entrepreneurs today are also great communicators, such as Mark Zuckerberg, and those who aren’t great at it often have to pay the consequences. Entrepreneurs have to be more visible than ever, and an entrepreneur who’s also a great communicator will be better at selling themselves and their business either when speaking with the media or at events.
You’ll be able to explain complex subjects to members of the c-suite, stakeholders, financiers and investors, and your team. You’ll also know how to motivate your team and teach them how to communicate with each other better and more efficiently.
Psychology is not something most people would associate with entrepreneurship, but you’d be surprised at how useful it could be. A lot of modern marketing methods and PR are rooted in psychology, and marketing and psychoanalysis were developed around the same time.
Being great at understanding the human mind will make you a force at the negotiation table. You’ll also be better at building a solid company culture. You’ll be able to notice when your team or an employee’s morale is low and exactly what should be done to correct the situation.
This degree also requires a lot of writing and research, which will help you develop your research and communication skills.
This is another degree a lot of people wouldn’t associate with business, but it could be one of the most valuable degrees for any entrepreneur in the next coming years. No matter the field you’re in, you’ll have to abide by certain environmental rules and regulations. And public pressure is only going to grow stronger.
Your deeper understanding of policies will allow you to build compliant processes from the beginning. There will also be a great need for eco-entrepreneurs in the future, and this would give you all the expertise needed to develop green products and solutions.
If you were wondering which major would help you be the best entrepreneur you can be, these are all great options. Look at which ones will give you the skills you need the most and where you expect to thrive.