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Do You Need a Degree to be a Successful Business Owner?

Obviously the simple answer is “no,” because others have gone on to run highly successful businesses without a formal education. However, the fact still remains that those people tend to be the exception; not the rule.

Some industries not only highly benefit from formal education, but it can be required for licensing (medical and legal fields for example). Others don’t require a formal education to be an expert in the industry (such as craft-related businesses).

What I hear a lot of people say (usually kids who start businesses at home online, and who haven’t even finished high school yet) is that if so-and-so could do it without college (insert any ridiculously successful dropout entrepreneur here), so can anyone else. What they neglect completely is that the cases they cite are actually extremely rare.

Banking on being the exception to the rule is very likely a large contributing factor to the overwhelming number of small businesses that fail within their first one to three years.

I won’t argue that absolutely every entrepreneur should receive a formal education and work towards a degree. However, I’d say that doing so couldn’t possibly hurt them in any way (whether it’s an education in their niche or industry, or even a general business education to teach them about the day to day running of a successful business).

What are your thoughts on formal education for entrepreneurs?


  1. Fred333

    I would say it all depends on the industry that you are trying to get into. In all actuality all you need it that drive to succeed and a little luck to make it big in the business world.

  2. auto repair school

    The people (kids) that start their own business before even starting college seem to fall into one of two groups: 1)highly motivated, strong innate sense of entrepreneurship — these are the ones that succeed and 2)they have a great idea, but lack the knowledge to make it successful

    the ones that do succeed, inevitably will end up going to school for a degree, very few (cue Bill Gates, etc) never go back. But I have found that the kids that have the knack to succeed, will get a degree regardless, if for no better reason than to better themselves…

  3. Jennifer Mattern

    It definitely wouldn’t hurt. Neither would several years worth of experience working in others’ boutiques. Remember, you’ll need start-up financing for that kind of business. And if you don’t have credentials or experience and a serious financial plan in place, it’s going to be extremely difficult to convince lenders or investors to give you that start-up capital. A degree in business (even with a specialty in entrepreneurship) can help a lot in convincing people that you know what you’re doing when it comes to running a profitable business. if you don’t want a full 4-year degree, consider an associates or at least take a few courses when you’re ready so you can understand the basics of small business law in your area, accounting, marketing, management, and human resources if you’ll eventually need to hire employees.

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