The great thing about entrepreneurship is that you don’t need tertiary education to become a successful entrepreneur. Think Steve Jobs (Apple), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and even David Geffen (Dreamworks), each who are entrepreneurs turned billionaires who never obtained a bachelor’s degree.
But does this mean having a university qualification is a hindrance to becoming an entrepreneur?
Statistics show that these degree-less self-made business titans are not the norm among business owners.
Globally, the 2013 census.gov indicates that 64% of business owners in the world had at least some university education when they started their business, with 23% obtaining a bachelors degree and 17% possessing a graduate degree. The number of business owners with high school as their highest level of education according to statistics is less than 1 in 4.
In South Africa, according to the 2013 GEM Report, 48.2% of adults in 2013 who are involved in early-stage entrepreneurial activity matriculated, with 13.3% having a tertiary education. However the same research emphasises the importance of an education in achieving entrepreneurial success.
“It is reasonable to believe that a good quality education system will have a positive influence on an individual’s self-efficacy and self-confidence, thereby increasing the chances of such individuals starting a business and making it successful.”
Here are 5 ways a degree can be useful as an entrepreneur:
- Career options
Having a degree gives you career options including a corporate job. This can allow you to gain critical experience in the field you want to start a business in, on someone else’s dime.
- Knowledge and skills
There are many skills taught in university that often sometimes don’t appear to be very relevant or useful especially if you are looking at taking the entrepreneurial path. However, it’s very likely that in the skills learnt will help you build a knowledge bank that you can always access in the running of your business.
- Development of patterns to hone intuition
Some people believe that successful entrepreneurs should rely on intuition, rather than a formal education. All intuition is, according to researchers, the subconscious recognition of patterns created from the data in your brain. The more data you have to form those patterns the better your decisions will be. Think of those four years as time to collect all the necessary knowledge and information to hone your intuition.
The connections made during university can in some cases last a life-time. University is an opportunity to meet future industry leaders and experts. This network is an invaluable resource which can open doors for you and your business.
Embarking on an entrepreneurial journey often means facing an uphill battle to secure funding or partners. While a degree is no magic bullet, it can especially in the beginning lend you a measure of credibility especially in fields like technology, finance and legal. A degree is a sign to investors that you have knowledge about your chosen industry.