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Are Business Degrees Still a Good Investment When Starting Your Own Company?

Posted August 01, 2018 by Jana Brews - Business Consultant

The short answer to this question is yes, of course they are.

A business degree from an AACSB-accredited institution is no doubt a good source of practical information on running any type of business. However, the question of whether or not these degrees are still sound investments for startups and entrepreneurs deserves comprehensive answers.

Dropouts and their success stories

It’s true that some of the most successful business founders and tycoons today are college dropouts, departing from their educations before completion. Apart from Bill Gates, who dropped out of Harvard to eventually turn Microsoft into an internationally recognizable and successful corporation, there’s also Reliance Industries’ Mukesh Ambani, who abandoned his MBA program at Stanford. In addition, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg famously left Harvard’s psychology and computer science programs, and Zara’s Amancio Ortega never even finished high school.

While business degrees were not necessary for founding and growing global business empires for these individuals, these cases are a small fraction of successful business ventures and should be viewed as the expection, not the rule. Other factors contributed to these success stories than is often discussed in the media.

A closer look

If you ask SaaStr CEO and founder Jason Lemkin, these stories of dropouts-turned-tycoons do not necessarily mean that college business degrees are obsolete. For instance, while both Zuckerberg and Gates left Harvard to build their own businesses, they had also already been coding for years. This prior experience allowed them to build and master skills essential to their current empires even before they stepped into college.

While some of the world’s most skilled and determined individuals didn’t need to finish college to be globally successful, this doesn’t necessarily mean that college-level business education is worthless to budding entrepreneurs. AACSB’s Dan LeClair discusses some of the most valuable and practical skills, insights, and benefits imparted by either MBAs, specialized master’s programs, or bachelor-level business degrees.

The benefits of getting a business degree today

In general, a business degree can allow you to be much better equipped when it comes to turning good ideas into great businesses. Depending on which the program you choose, you can learn about a variety of funding models, governance strategies, and organizational structures relevant to founding and running a sound business. A well-developed degree program also allows you to gain insight from practicing managers and tutors with actual business experience. And, if you already have a solid idea of what kind of business you want to build, targeted business courses provide you with the specific knowledge you need to make the idea a reality.

In terms of costs, it's understandable that some aspiring entrepreneurs will worry about the money and time required to actually finish a degree. However, today’s online degree options make education much more affordable and accessible. For example, University of South Carolina Aiken’s school of business administration offers a fully online MBA program that can be completed in as little as 12 months. These degrees can provide you with extensive knowledge and understanding in areas like human resources management, marketing, information technology, and cyber security — all areas of expertise that will be of great use to you and your future business. Just make sure to read about what different programs have to offer to better understand which ones best suit your needs.

Founding a business in this day and age is, to say the least, risky business. The reality is that startup entrepreneurs need all the help they can get to find success and make it big. Invest in your own business acumen, and you’ll be more equipped to start a business in today's ever-changing world economy.

Jana Brews headshotJana Brews is a business consultant with a passion for helping people achieve their dreams in business and in life.