If you’re an entrepreneur with a foolproof idea and all the resources you need to start your business, then there’s no need for you to go to college, right? You can definitely be successful without a college qualification, just ask Bill Gates and Richard Branson. But all entrepreneurs (even billionaire ones) need to acquire knowledge and develop skills continuously if they are to be successful.

Whether it’s a business management course or an MBA degree, education should be a priority for all aspiring entrepreneurs.

Which education should you choose?

Education options vary greatly – from multi-year university degrees, to short courses and on-the-job training options such as internships, or a combination of these. As a budding entrepreneur, the type of education you choose depends on what type of business you want to start. For example, if you’re thinking of opening a mechanic’s workshop or a beauty salon (but first want to learn the trade), then specialised vocational training courses would be well suited to you. If you’re academically minded and want to start a business in a complex field such as law or engineering, then having a university degree would be to your advantage.

Many successful entrepreneurs (notably in fields such as IT) have started their career journeys through internships. If you are an independent, driven and inquisitive person, doing internships and even volunteering at big companies within your field can teach you more than any other form of education.

Remember that, no matter the field, every entrepreneur needs to have a grasp of key business skills such as accounting, business management and marketing. Make sure you take this into account when choosing your education options.

Ultimately, since you’re starting your own business, it’s more important to have the proper skills in place than to have a long list of qualifications behind your name (unless these are legally required in your chosen industry). Read on to find out which essential skills you’ll need.

Key business skills and how to get them

  • Money management. If you struggle with personal budgeting, then it’s likely that you’ll struggle to manage the money in your business. If you aren’t good at budgeting, then do some research on tips for how to manage your money better. There are dozens of reputable websites that offer expert advice.
  • Business management. You can’t be a successful entrepreneur without knowing how to manage a business. Being in command requires good communication, good people management and good relationships with investors and customers. A business management course will teach you the ins and outs of running a business.
  • Accounting. As an entrepreneur, you have to keep a meticulous record of your income and expenses. Even if you’re able to have someone do this job for you, basic accounting skills are essential if you want to understand your business’s finances. Try out an accounting short course.
  • Marketing. Especially when starting out, you need to be able to attract customers, investors or partners to your business. Being able to effectively market your product or service is often the single biggest factor in your success or failure. You may want to investigate marketing short courses.
  • Leadership. You may be starting your business by yourself or with a few partners, but your goal is probably to grow your company and employ more people. Leadership skills are essential for making hiring decisions, training new staff, keeping employees motivated and nurturing your business.

Developing these business skills is vital, but remember that being an entrepreneur is mainly about determination, creativity and an undying passion for turning your big idea into a thriving business. This is more important than what any college education can give you.

Keen to learn more about becoming an entrepreneur? This short learning programme in entrepreneurship is for you!

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