Anyone can be an entrepreneur. All it takes is an idea and the guts to try it out. Succeeding, however, is an entirely different matter. Persevering even more so. Your first, second, even fifth, or more idea might not pan out. It’s hard to make it in the business world and harder still to keep that idea working – but you can do it. Success doesn’t have to be in the form of a massive international company. Simply being your own boss and owner of your own business is enough to qualify you as a successful entrepreneur.
Where you take your business, and even how you adapt your approach to keeping up with the changing times, is up to you. The right answer will boil down to the unique options available to you at the time. It’s impossible to prepare for every eventuality. That’s why it’s so important to train and further your knowledge and skills, starting today.
Business owners need to be multi-specialists. They need to know how to run a business, organize a business, manage a business and do everything themselves. Knowing how is key. You don’t need to be the best, and you don’t need to keep doing it all on your own, but you need to know how your business runs and what you need to make it into a self-sustaining entity.
In this case, knowledge is power. If you want to improve every venture’s chances of making it, you need to have the information to draw from. Ideas, skills, and the ability to mix that information into creative problem-solving.
That knowledge is how you can make it as an entrepreneur, even if your projects themselves don’t always pan out. To succeed, you need to constantly evolve, learn, and then apply that information to give yourself a better chance at finally creating a business model that sticks and even thrives.
That knowledge requires lifelong determination, and how you learn, train, and even go about implementing what you learn matters.
Lifelong Learning in Business
One of the most important investments that you can make in your career is lifelong learning. If you continue to learn and further your skills a little bit every day, then every day that passes will be one where you are better prepared and informed. When the world shifts and changes so often, it’s only natural that working professionals also need to change and adapt.
You simply cannot continue with business as usual. It’s the fastest way to fail, even if it takes a few months or even years – but by then, it’ll be too late. Business models, technology, and even public perception are always in flux, and if you do not commit to furthering your skillset, you won’t have the tools necessary to get ahead of the waves of change. Treading water isn’t enough; you need to make an impact.
How you learn and develop should also be varied. There are so many great tools and resources available, ranging from degrees to simple articles you can find online for free. The point is to investigate and constantly challenge your beliefs and knowledge so that you can stay flexible and adaptable and make the changes to your business ideas that will make a difference.
Earning a Degree: Everything You Need to Know
One of the best ways to invest in your learning and development is with a degree. There are a few key things you’ll want to keep in mind, however, so that you get the best value for your money, time, and effort.
1. Undergraduate, Graduate, or Post-Graduate?
If you already have a degree, then you can earn another undergraduate degree, go for your master’s, or in some cases, even look into earning a PhD. The right approach for you will depend entirely on why you need your education.
If you want to start a business that revolves around your skillset, you may want to specialize further with a master’s degree or a PhD. If you want to broaden your skillset, then consider either an undergraduate or master’s degree.
In general, working professionals will be most interested in the master’s degree approach. This is because they’re shorter, more focused, and are usually designed for learning while you carry on with your career. There are entire master’s programs out there designed to even help those without any experience get started in a new field.
The right program for you will depend on what your goals are. Many entrepreneurs want to earn an MBA. MBAs help you learn how to effectively lead a business and manage a team, so they’re perfect for those who want to start their own company or take over an established one.
You could alternatively earn a data analytics degree if you want to be able to analyze data and use that information to make better business decisions. It’s entirely up to you and what skills you believe you need to be a better leader.
Accreditation isn’t the be-all-and-end-all, but it is a fast and effective way to determine the quality of a degree. There are many substandard universities and institutions that cannot offer a quality education. Just look at Trump’s university. These institutions are nothing more than diploma mills; for established professionals looking to further their skills and knowledge foundation, they’re useless.
That’s why accreditation is so important, especially for degrees from universities you don’t already know by name and particularly for programs offered online. Online education has made learning more accessible than ever and has let working professionals retrain and expand their skills. Just as online businesses have let more people open up their own stores, there is a risk that the online degree you go for won’t be worthwhile.
Accreditation can help stop those fears. If you want to earn an MBA, for example, then look for programs that are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or AACSB. Only around 5% of business programs are accredited, and if the one you’re considering is, you’ll know that all tutors are academically or professionally qualified, that the learning platform is effective, and that the course was designed with the highest standards in mind.
3. Full Time, Part Time, and Online
The second thing to consider is how quickly you want to complete the degree and what level of commitment you are ready to put forward. In the past, standard MBAs would take students two years of full-time study to complete. Now you can accelerate your efforts with a 1-year MBA or work your degree around your career with an online MBA.
How long does it take to get an MBA online today? The answer is it depends. You can complete your MBA in as little as 20 months or spread your time a bit more. Online degrees are designed to be flexible so that students can learn and study while working.
This is particularly true for executive-level students. These students are high-level working professionals aiming to earn an MBA in order to better prepare them for a promotion into an executive-level role, like CEO.
You don’t need to work your way up a career ladder in order to benefit from earning an MBA. If you want to become a business owner, there’s a lot that you can learn from this degree option.
Of course, it will depend on what skills you personally believe are missing and what your business model revolves around. While an MBA is very general, meaning it can be applied to all business types, you may be better off specializing in a different field. If your goal is to start a consultancy, for example, it may be more worthwhile to further specialize your education to showcase your expertise in the field you’ve chosen and then rely on hiring people to help you manage your business from there.
Short Courses, Workshops, and Certificates
There are more formal education options than just a degree. If there’s something specific that you want to know that isn’t covered by your degree, then the best way to learn it is to take a short course, workshop, or certificate program. If there’s a tool you want to learn how to use (like Google Analytics, for example), then short courses are just what you need.
Many options are even entirely free, so you can continue to learn and invest in your skills, building as you go. Others that are behind a paywall are still affordable, with some providers even offering unlimited access to their digital courses for a monthly fee.
As your goal is to start a business of your own, you don’t really need to go through and earn the certificate of completion. The reason to go for those is to prove that you finished the course and that you’ve completed all the exercises. If there isn’t anyone you need to prove this new knowledge for, then there’s no reason to go through that effort.
Many short online courses are free to learn, but you need to pay to get the certificate. Since you don’t need a piece of paper, you can instead learn for free and continue to develop your understanding of your field and how you can better run your business.
Books, Articles, Talks, and More
You need to learn who the leading thinkers in your industry are and follow them. You’ll also want to subscribe to any industry-specific magazines or journals that can help you stay in the know in terms of what’s going on, the latest theories, and company spotlights.
You can learn so much just by watching what your competitors are doing.
Combined, this means you are learning from academics, industry experts, and other businesses. If you can get in the habit of reading an article or two every day, you’ll be on the right track to becoming a successful entrepreneur. The best entrepreneurs must keep an eye on the horizon in order to steer their businesses through the tumultuous present.
Don’t like to read? No problem. There are podcasts and audiobooks out there that can let you listen and learn as you go. So long as you have the digital edition of an article or journal, you can also use text-to-speak tools to turn any document into an audiobook.
Listening isn’t just for those that struggle to sit down and read; it’s also how you can learn something new on your way to work or during mindless errands where your hands are busy, but your mind is blank.
Keep Track of How All This Information Can Help
The best way to get the most value out of any educational investment is to go into it with a business idea in mind. This way, you can start creating notes and plans that will directly impact your business idea. Not only that, but if you have the opportunity to ask questions, you can then get specific answers that directly relate to your company.
There’s also the fact that you’ll forget most of the information that you learn. It’s natural. That’s why you should have a notebook to jot down the ideas you have for your company based on what you learn, no matter the source.
You don’t need to use every good idea you come across; you just need to keep track of them so you can pick from the best.
Another reason why you won’t want to pressure yourself to remember everything you learn is because it takes away the joy of learning. Just continuing to read and invest your time in learning skills and information that relates to your industry is enough. Information will repeat often enough for you to naturally absorb that information.
Take short notes that act as inspiration for your own business, and stick instead to expanding your knowledge reach. Studying and committing skills to memory is important when it comes to your degree and any tool-specific workshop or course. Otherwise, have fun with it and take inspiration where you see it. This will help you think more critically and is the secret to starting a forward-thinking business.