What Education Do You Need to Be an Entrepreneur

BUSINESS icon Giles Cadman April 3, 2018

This is a question entrepreneurs ask me quite often. Should I go back to school? Should I finish my degree? Should I take my education a step further and get an MBA?

In my opinion, there's no real right answer to this, but we can attempt to weigh the pros and cons of each option. While education is certainly a valuable tool, it doesn't come without a cost (and a hefty cost, depending on what program and school you're considering).

I myself was working towards completing a Masters of Business Administration in England, but due to personal reasons, I didn't end up finishing the degree. Despite this, I continued on my path as an entrepreneur and am now the chairman of over 30 different companies.

The Time Issue

While you may be learning a great deal, education is also taking away some of your prime working years. Your 20s are the years you are meant to start establishing yourself professionally, and depending on how you handle yourself during this time, education can put a hold on this.

I would argue that experience is more valuable than hypothetical knowledge. For example, I truly believe in the value of apprenticeships. When you're apprenticing, you're gaining experience without having to pay. Formal schooling oftentimes lacks the same hands-on learning experience.

These are the years when you have endless amounts of energy, can run on little sleep, and have no other obligations, such as a family to support. Getting an education most certainly helps you speak the language of business with others, but you can ultimately learn to be a businessperson by practicing business.

The Money Issue

As previously discussed, getting a solid education does not come without a price, but in no way am I saying education isn't worth every penny. Universities and colleges get you a professional qualification, and much of what you learn will apply to your entrepreneurial endeavours. But, it also takes away your green dollar (money-making) years.

With 4-8 years of education comes money spent on tuition, books and other school supplies "“ not to mention board and travel if you're studying abroad. It can be terribly difficult to attempt to pay off your student debt while also trying to create the funds to start your business at the same time.

There's also the opportunity cost "“ a concept used in finance to measure the net present value of taking on an endeavour or new project, such as investing in a new piece of business machinery or getting a degree. The opportunity cost of education can be massive, as school doesn't just cost tuition, it technically costs you the lost wages you would have made in the X years while you were working.

Money also becomes a bigger issue as you get older. When you're just starting out, you don't have the money and knowledge for expensive taste. You save your money while gaining valuable experience that will be beneficial later in life.

But as you age, you begin to long for a higher standard of living and more expensive items to make life more comfortable. If you're struggling with debt and have no work experience, it's going to be hard to give yourself these luxuries. In a way, you've put yourself behind the game by spending years in school "“ the exact opposite of what you were trying to accomplish.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to your education, there are some heavy considerations to make note of on both sides of the argument. While education is a valuable tool for entrepreneurs, it also takes away another one of the most valuable tools "“ time. It's worth thinking about the pros and cons of the matter before making a final decision.

What are your thoughts on education and the entrepreneurial? Comment and let me know!