A college degree can be a key that unlocks plenty of job opportunities and career paths, but in the case of starting your own business, it may not always be required. There are plenty of entrepreneurs who never completed a college degree yet went on to build successful careers, think of Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, and Steve Jobs who founded Facebook, the Virgin Group, and Apple, respectively. With so many success stories like these, it raises the question: are college degrees always necessary when starting a business? The short answer is “not necessarily.” While it certainly has its benefits, it’s not a guarantee of success, and there are some drawbacks to this decision, as well.
In order to enter the field of entrepreneurship, you only need to be passionate, creative, and open to taking risks — all of which are things that can’t be taught. The following are some things to consider when deciding whether you should obtain a college degree or go straight to starting up a business on your own:
- What business are you planning to start? If you’re starting a simple business that either doesn’t require much technical skill or requires skills that you could learn on your own, you’re better off saving your tuition money and putting it towards capital for your business. Otherwise, you should get a degree if you’re interested in entering a more specialized field of work.
- Is there something in particular you want to gain from getting a degree? College can provide you with unique networking opportunities and mentorship from seasoned professionals. If this is what you’re looking for, then it may be worth it to get a degree.
- Can you afford to go to college? Run the numbers on what it would cost for you to go to college and how much it would cost for you to launch your own business. From this data, you’ll see where your money will be better spent.
Starting A Business Without A Degree
College degrees can be incredibly costly and time-consuming, and they don’t necessarily guarantee a successful future. Not obtaining one frees you up from unnecessary loans that could be better spent on start-up capital. Starting your own business without formal training also means that you’ll have to do a lot of trial and error to figure out what works. This allows you to quickly hone and develop all the necessary skills needed to run a successful business.
If you still want to undergo conventional training and if technical education is what you’re seeking, then a more affordable and manageable option would be to take a certification program or SSG-supported courses. These provide you with all the relevant knowledge you need to succeed in entrepreneurship, without having to dedicate an exorbitant amount of money and time that you might not have.
The biggest risk associated with this decision is the fact that you’ll have no safety net to fall back on if your business fails. Unemployment rates are twice as high for people who didn’t finish college than for those who did. It’s also much more difficult to find traditional employment without a degree to present to prospective employers. Furthermore, you’ll have to do everything on your own, which means essentially starting from scratch with no guidance and no connections.
Getting A College Degree
Even if you don’t regularly use what you learn from your degree, the fact that you have one is enough to open tons of doors for you. If you change your mind or if your business doesn’t succeed, finding a job will be much easier for you if you can prove that you finished college. The best thing that receiving a formal education can offer you when it comes to starting a business is the opportunity to fail and learn from your mistakes, with mentors there to guide you towards the right path.
College classes provide plenty of activities and projects that require you to really hone your skills as a business owner, but also the space to go astray and eventually find your way back again. Starting a business from the get-go doesn’t give you this kind of freedom. If your business fails, it could be devastating.
There are also certain specialized skills and knowledge that you can only learn through formal education, such as performing market research and securing venture capital. You can very well learn these things on your own, but it will most likely take longer, and you won’t have anyone to tell you if you’re going about it the wrong way and you’ll only realize it too late.
Of course, as mentioned, the most significant advantage of going to college is the networking opportunities you’ll come across. You’ll meet everyone from experienced professors to like-minded peers who can help you in your journey as an entrepreneur.
There’s no definite answer as to whether it’s still worth it to get a college degree before starting your own business. Weighing both options before you embark on your journey as a business owner ensures that you make the right decision for you.