Education vs. Experience: Do You Need a Degree to Run a Business

While some of the well-known business pioneers were college dropouts (Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs), they are exceptions to the rule. The majority of the world’s greatest business leaders (Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk) gained their knowledge from attending some of the best business schools and universities in the world. So, do you need a degree to know how to run a business? In this post, guest author Sarah Saker writes about whether you need a degree to run a business.


Education vs. Experience: Do You Need a Degree to Run a Business (or an LLC)?


By Sarah Saker



If you haven’t noticed, we live in a digital era. How many times have you seen people become YouTube stars or Instagram influencers based on videos or pictures they’ve posted? You see it all the time. It honestly can be frustrating and annoying if you’ve taken all the necessary steps to run your own business and haven’t seen the success that these “Insta-stars” have seen. It’s understandable to feel frustration from that but rest assured in knowing that their success and your lack of isn’t the result of a “useless” education by any means… you have the know-how and skillset to successfully run a business… you just need to reevaluate your marketing and social media outlets.


But even with that realization, you still can’t help but wonder if education is truly necessary to run a thriving and successful business… Just think about it; you see and hear all kinds of “rags to riches” stories of successful business owners who didn’t have an ounce of formal education yet they are some of the wealthiest entrepreneurs of the world. The fact that these stories are spread all over the media, it can make you question whether or not you need a degree to run a business.


Well, there’s a short answer and a more detailed answer to that question. To answer your question in the short version: “no, you don’t need a degree to run a successful business.” The detailed answer to this question is: “business ownership doesn’t require a degree but there are steps in the process that you will learn the easy way with a formal education that most people find out the hard way without a formal education, making your journey to entrepreneurship much smoother and quicker.”


Evolution of Education


In fact, research and studies have been conducted on the various generations in the workforce now and it showed that the 21st century is way more complex than people even realize… so much so that the next generation of workers will need to be more innovative in their work ethics and ways of thinking.


If you look at older generations, the workforce back then consisted more of putting in some “elbow grease” and manual labor to earn a living. Formal education back then was pretty monotone and undeviating… You had to be experienced in a particular trade or skill in order to provide for your family. With newer generations, the workforce revolves around using your brain and problem solving versus manual labor. And formal education has evolved from a static state to have more of a life skill focus; education today is more practical and skill-based.


Regardless of where education was and where it’s going, having one is going to be beneficial to your business either way you look at it. You might be going back and forth in your mind but factor in all the things to consider.


Look at Your Long-Term Business Goals


Not investing in a degree might sound like the better option for you, especially from a time and financial point of view. But, before you make your decision, look at your long-term business goals. Statistics have shown and proven that half of all new businesses fail within the first five years, according to Linkedin.


This isn’t meant to rain on your ambition or discourage you from reaching your entrepreneurship goals. You just need to at least be able to make an informed decision based on facts and not out of trying to take the easy way out. Sure, it’s common knowledge that you’re going to need to write a business plan and get a loan but what about the laws and regulations to be aware of? Do you know the five basic rules to start an LLC?


You don’t have to make your decision this very moment but you do need to think about your long-term business goals and assess whether or not a degree will be able to training and knowledge you need for success.


What Type of Skills Do You Need to Run a Successful Business?


So it might be hard to picture it now but these businesses that seem to have popped up overnight, you rest assured in knowing that they have a team of highly trained and skilled professionals helping that business level-up. If you want to run a successful business of your own, you’re more than likely going to want to hire skilled pros as well… in doing that, you may want to brush up on your own business knowledge and skills before you bring them on board.


If you think about it, you’re going to need to know how to negotiate and make important business decisions. On top of that, some skills that will be required of you include:


  • Communication skills (verbal and written)
  • Creative and innovative skills (can you think outside the box?)
  • Analytical (how good are you at solving problems?)


Professional experience outside of a classroom can certainly give you a “real-life” experience but it also comes with hard lessons learned as well. Ultimately the decision is up to you but just take a moment to consider all aspects before making a jump decision.




About Sarah Saker: Sarah is a freelance writer and small business coach living in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

She loves writing and helping small businesses set up processes for customer support and growth, and working on creative marketing messaging.





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