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What do entrepreneurs study in college?

To my own understanding, most entrepreneurs study business/entrepreneurship in college. How beneficial is this? Could you have started a business without college? Would it be better to major in the subject matter that the business represents? For example, would someone who wants to innovate new technology spend more time in business classes or technology/engineering classes? #business #engineering #technology #entrepreneurship

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Donald’s Answer

Many have started businesses without the benefit of a college degree. In many of today's largest Hi-Tech companies, founders have had minimal or incomplete educations. It certainly can be done......


In Business, things you don't know about you'll learn by doing multiple times, paying for those mistakes multiple times and even perhaps driving away customers multiple times. It's a hard way to learn. In my opinion, better to have a good overall knowledge going into business. In school, you can make those mistakes in a forgiving setting...and you will make mistakes.


There are a number of skills utilized in business and they are not high tech but you'll need a thorough knowledge of how they work to establish and operate a business. Accounting, marketing, sales, contracts are but a few of the elements required in business that, if you falter in, will have major impacts. Developing scope, schedule and budgets for projects sounds easy until you have to reconcile the impact that each has on the other when things get changed, delayed or over budget .


I have a business and do not have a degree. I used to take courses as I became aware that I needed to know about a specific area. I started doing that when I was working for someone else as well as when I worked for myself. It also helped when a company I was working for paid the bills for school. A definite advantage. You will have to decide on prioritizing your educational program based on your functional requirements...which by the way....may not always coincide with what educational institutions may be presenting.


I also started the business much later in life when I had substantial knowledge of business and my field. My wife has multiple degrees, up to and including PHD in her field.....she is also in her own business. Some people can pick things up as the go along and still make a go of it. Others really want to know as much as possible before committing to a venture. It's really what you feel comfortable and can effectively function with. Some projects and customers will REQUIRE suppliers to have a degree, specific experience and/or demonstrated technical knowledge or certifications. If you don't meet these requirements you will be at a disadvantage; Taking on this type of business will require a thorough working knowledge of the how this business is conducted.


In technology, the field is changing so quickly, those spending a lot of time learning about how things developed may actually fall behind those who are in business competing with the latest technologies. Once you're in business, you have to keep current. To succeed you'll have to innovate.......


Good Luck,
Don Knapik

Thank you comment icon Thank you for your time and for the help! I appreciate it. Bianca
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Russell’s Answer

College will help you to build the foundational skills critical to running a business (accounting, project management, marketing, sales cycles, etc...) but they will not guarantee success in starting a business, but it may be indispensable to growing the business.


I had a small/middle market business for almost 10 years before I rejoined the corporate world. While building my business I continued by education to earn a masters and took classes directly related to my weak points and found them very relevant to understanding how to address problems I was actually experiencing. What I learned was that getting diverse alternate opinions on how to solve problems was very helpful and allows you to see the world and understand things beyond your own normal capacity.

Thank you comment icon Thank you for the help! Bianca
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Christopher’s Answer

Bianca,

Nowadays there are more and more engineering programs that have entrepreneurship as part of their curriculum. And it's not for the sake of pure academics. They will assist you in not only expanding your knowledge of starting a business but your ideas will also get tested and they will be positioned for a 'shark tank' -like experience. Definitely ask those questions of your prospective engineering school(s) as you seek to further your educational endeavors.


So my advice would be to major in your area of passion (because you want to best at describing your product/offering) while taking full advantage of the aforementioned programs that will help you launch your business. Take a look at the University of Michigan's Engineering program...especially their entrepreneurial curriculum within the College of Engineering. I think that jibes best with what you are seeking.



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