Why Entrepreneurs Still Need Business School
Posted June 06, 2017 by Giselle Weybrecht
- Author, Advisor, and Speaker - Sustainability and Business
Have a business idea (or many)? Even though we regularly hear stories of individuals who started their wildly successful business from their garage without a business degree, this isn’t the norm. Many students choose to do a business degree specifically because they want to start their own businesses. The degree is an important tool to increase your chances of being successful at developing your ideas, and then launching and growing them. Here are 10 reasons entrepreneurs should consider business school.
1. Getting the basics down. Being an entrepreneur means you are in charge, which further means you need to know a bit of everything and understand all parts of the business, from finance and marketing to operations and accounting. Business school gives a good base that you can tap into, especially in those early days when you are likely the only employee in your business.
2. Learn more about entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is such a popular subject for students that most schools now offer a range of courses and even specialized degrees. These cover everything from how to take that business idea you scribbled on a napkin and turn it into a business plan to how to collaborate with investors and grow your business.
3. Deciding whether entrepreneurship is for you. A lot of people want to start a business, but entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. Going to business school gives you time to find out what being an entrepreneur really means and whether you are cut out for it or whether you might be interested in taking a different direction. Ultimately, if you choose not to start a business right away, for whatever reason, you still have your business degree to open other doors. You can still tap into this network and resources further along in your career if you decide to reconsider becoming an entrepreneur.
4. A chance to refine your idea. During your degree you’ll have countless opportunities to refine your idea, test it out, get feedback, or even throw it away and come up with another idea. Use the degree and turn it into the program you want it to be to help you develop as an entrepreneur. Use class assignments to work on your idea and to meet with and listen to other entrepreneurs. Work with fellow entrepreneurs on developing their ideas, or get them involved in developing yours.
5. Additional support throughout and after your degree. Apart from entrepreneurship courses, most business schools now offer special support centers for students interested in becoming entrepreneurs. These centers have guest speakers, resources, access to mentors, and other services during your degree. Many of these centers continue to be an important resource even after you graduate, offering alumni office space, funding, and connections to faculty.
6. Finding co-founders. Building a successful business often involves finding a co-founder with a complementary set of skills. But co-founders can be tricky to find. Many entrepreneurs have met their co-founders in their business school classes. Not only are you surrounded by other individuals who want to become entrepreneurs, but your time at school gives you a chance to see how you work together before jumping into your new venture together. Business school also offers many opportunities for you to work together on projects before jumping into your venture together.
7. Network and gather support. One of the most important benefits of your business degree is the network you create from your fellow students and other alumni (and even alumni of other business schools). You can source this network for advice on everything from pricing to entering new markets to finding the right lawyer or design firm. They will also likely be the first ones to support and possibly buy your product or service.
8. Mentorship and guidance. Beyond being a good support network, being part of a business school community also gives you access to special networks of successful and experienced entrepreneurs to act as mentors. You also have access to faculty with expertise in a vast variety of topics that could really help you move forward with your idea.
9. Finding funding. In order to start and grow your new business, you will need funding, and business schools have several ways to access funding. Some schools have special funding for student and alumni entrepreneurs or angel networks. Many have special business case competitions where you can pitch your idea to investors. Often students find funding right from the school’s alumni network.
10. Experience. Ultimately, nothing can replace actual hands-on experience if you want to be an entrepreneur. Use your time at business school as an opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs, work with them, learn from them and help them develop their ideas and businesses as a way to learn more. Also take the opportunity to develop and practice your pitch, test out some of your ideas and get your fellow students involved.
Business school is the perfect place if you are interested in entrepreneurship, either now or later along in your career. It will give you the foundation you need, a wide range of skills and knowledge, and experiences you can use to start and/or grow your company.
Giselle Weybrecht is an author, advisor, and speaker on sustainability. Her most recent book is The Future MBA: 100 Ideas for Making Sustainability the Business of Business Education. Follow her at project-insideout.com and on Twitter @gweybrecht.