The cost of school is astronomical, and the time commitment frustrating for those who just want to get out there in the real world. So, is going to college absolutely necessary? Do you need a degree to become a successful entrepreneur?
Three Reasons You Don’t Need A Degree To Be A Successful Entrepreneur
1. Degrees Are Expensive
It’s the number one obvious factor: degrees are expensive. In the US, the average cost of a degree is up to $23,890 a year for out-of-state students. Over a four-year course, that’s nearly a whopping $100,000.
Instead, you could already have four years of earnings under your belt. Sure, if you start your own business you’re unlikely to be making profit straight away. But you could also get a part-time job which would cover your basic living costs, alongside start-up costs which are enough to get your enterprise underway.
If you already have some savings for college, consider using these to start a business instead. Still see it as an investment in yourself and your career, just one that might pay off a bit sooner.
If you don’t have any savings, then have a look at business grants which may help you kick off your idea. Work this alongside a part-time job or some simple freelancing work to support the MVP of your start-up. Avoid huge student debt and you’ll start with the financial upper hand.
2. Degrees Cost Time
Not only are degrees expensive, but they also cost you time. With most college courses stretching over four years, it’s a big investment of your life and a serious commitment. However, the academic semesters don’t stretch over the whole year – so you could always use vacation periods to work on your business ideas.
As a young entrepreneur, I was itching to get out there in the real world and make something of myself. Some of my friends were committing to seven more years of school to become doctors. There was no way I could wait another year to launch my business, let alone seven.
Degrees can take a long time to complete. I’d rather use this time to gain some real-world experience, which is even more valuable as an entrepreneur.
If you’re really keen to study for a degree, perhaps for personal interest reasons, why not consider part-time? Then you can split your time and still get going with your business, perhaps even using your business income to fund your studying as you go. Some distance learning programs are set up for this kind of lifestyle.
3. Degrees Aren’t A Guarantee
Spending $100,000 and four years of your life doesn’t actually guarantee you anything. Sure, there are stats that show college graduates are likely to earn more than those who only graduated from high school.
But if you know that you are not just a median statistic, and you have the drive and effort to give entrepreneurship a real go, then you can tip these stats in your favor.
With times changing, degrees mean less and less, and many graduates – even those with multiple degrees – struggle to find employment.
If you want to become a doctor, then sure, you’re going to need a degree. But if you already know that you want to become an entrepreneur, then you don’t even need a degree. Anyone can start a business.
And here’s how…
Three Ways You Can Become An Entrepreneur Without A Degree
1. Show Up With Your USP
If you’re going to succeed in life, whatever you choose to do, you need to find your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
Even if you want to enrol on a degree, you would need to write a personal statement to apply for college. Why should they accept you over another student? This is your USP.
If want to become a successful entrepreneur without a degree, you need to show this USP through your business instead.
So whichever business you start, and whatever field you’re interested in – from published authors to qualified yoga teachers – make sure you stand out for all the right reasons.
Whether you have a degree or not will be the last thing on anybody’s mind if you show off your USP well enough.
Got your USP nailed? Then you’re ready to take the next step: here’s how to embrace the concept of disruptive relevance.
2. Go Freelance
Once you know what your USP is and you’re ready to show it off, what’s next? If you’re ready to succeed as an entrepreneur, a fantastic way is to start freelance.
By working around your hobbies and interests, not only can you turn your passions into income, but your whole work/life balance suddenly becomes a lifestyle.
Today’s digital generation of entrepreneurs turn towards online roles as social media influencers and content producers. The potential and opportunity is massive – and the best bit? You definitely don’t need a degree.
As long as you have your USP in hand, and a great story to tell, set yourself up as freelance. Build your niche and create a customer base who value someone with real-life experience rather than a qualification.
3. Set Up A Business
If you have a big idea, or want to take your freelance work one step further, set up a business. Again, this is something you can do without a degree.
Whether your idea revolves around launching a website, developing an app, opening up a coffee house or working as a social media influencer, the potential here is limitless.
If you are used to autonomous learning, you may be excited at the prospect of jumping into the world of business without a formal degree to back you up. But if the thought of setting up a business without studying it first makes you nervous, there are plenty of more flexible options out there to fill the gap.
For example, if you want to launch an online business but are worried about not having a degree, explore online learning communities. You can research and use practical tools and resources to cover the formal learning side of launching your business. Excel over your classroom peers by implementing what you learn into the real world as you launch your business.
You should also explore low-cost business models like dropshipping on Shopify, selling through Amazon using FBA, listing your services on a tutoring site, or retailing your designs on a print-on-demand portal (Zazzle pictured above being one of the top ones). There are plenty of business models that require no initial set up costs, and low recurring costs — perfect for the entrepreneur trying to find their feet.
The answer is obvious: no, you don’t need a degree to be a successful entrepreneur. Ten years ago, the answer would have been the same, but the practicalities far more difficult.
With today’s online world of entrepreneurial opportunity, there is a niche and a market for everybody with the right confidence to embrace it — with or without a degree.
That being said — there is nothing wrong with getting a college education either. You can use it as valuable thinking time before you enter the world of work. But beware — a degree is not a guarantee of success.