You wouldn’t expect to excel as a physician without a medical degree. You shouldn’t be surprised if you fail at engineering if you never took a single engineering course. Yet, every year, thousands of people look forward to business success without any sort of business education.
Around the web, you might find messages arguing that entrepreneurs who get educated are wasting their time. Quite the opposite is true — education is unendingly valuable for any professional, including the small-business owner. Whether you are preparing to launch a new venture or you have been running a business for years, here are a few reasons you should seriously consider going back to school.
Even just 15 years ago, anyone who wanted to return to school had to weigh the opportunities of continued education against the opportunities of gaining real-world experience. The best courses tended to take place during working hours, and workers had little choice but to abandon academic aspirations in favor of entrepreneurial endeavors.
These days, you can have both. Thanks to the internet, you can enroll in an MBA online program that will fit seamlessly into your existing work schedule. While you learn what it is like to work in a living, breathing office environment, you can almost simultaneously gain greater insight into various strategies for running a business. Because you don’t have to choose which type of wisdom you acquire — book smarts or street smarts — you can double-down on your experience, knowledge, and skill in business, preparing you entirely for an entrepreneurial future.
Rarely is there only one solution to a problem. However, plenty of entrepreneurs fail to imagine alternative ways to do things, even when the solution in front of them isn’t ideal. Education — whether in business or in another discipline — aims to add skills and diversify your thought process. At the very least, returning to school should equip you with new tools and techniques to help you tackle business-related challenges, but more likely, you will emerge from your degree program with new, creative methods of approaching problems, such as lateral thinking.
Moreover, educational environments tend to expose you to new cultures. People of all backgrounds attend universities, and interacting with new groups may help you reimagine your business ideas to address the needs of marginalized groups. Studies show that diverse workplaces are more productive, likely because people of differing backgrounds can contribute unique ideas to benefit the business. By returning to school, you can expand your worldview in more ways than one.
Once you become an entrepreneur, you will have precious little opportunity to grow your network of business contacts. More than half of small businesses exist in their founders’ homes, and many lack more than a handful of employees — many of whom are as young and inexperienced as you. You can either slog through your startup years without benefiting from business connections — or you can go to business school.
Though all sorts of people attend business courses, most share a common goal — to make connections. Everyone in your MBA program wants to build a strong, powerful network that will benefit them in the future. Some work environments provide opportunities to connect with fellow professionals in your field, but at business school, you will meet and become close with peers destined for other fields — ones potentially beneficial to your entrepreneurial success.
Enhanced Employee Relations
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, an MBA program — or any sort of business leadership education — will better prepare you for your role as a business leader. Regardless of what type of business you intend to start, you should eventually have employees, and you need to know how to relate to them properly if you hope to run a successful business. Education, and MBA programs in particular, are designed to transform students into leaders in their chosen fields, helping them to practice communication, commitment, and other essential skills for commanding teams of workers.
Further, returning to school could give you access to courses that help you understand the responsibilities for your various employees. For example, if you have little background in marketing, taking a marketing class might provide insight into the stresses and struggles of your marketing department. Then, you can tailor your messages to your marketers, so they will accept and understand your ideas.
Even if you have already found success as an entrepreneur — even if you have an unbeatable business idea — you can still improve yourself and your business by returning to school.