Entrepreneurs in School? Why It's More Than a Business Degree
By Dr. Cassandra Shaw
Program Director, Entrepreneurship, at American Public University
According to the Department of Labor, “Entrepreneurship plays a vital role in the growth of the U.S. economy”. However, in order to do this the venture must succeed. Without proper planning and education many businesses fail within the first few years. The age at which companies begin to fail is about 4 years. Do you want to survive past that mark?
If you want to be an entrepreneur, rather than simply work in business then choosing a degree in entrepreneurship is the road to take. There are various types of entrepreneurship to consider, such as social, non-profit, international, small business, intrapreneur, vetrepreneur, inventrepreneur, serial, flexible, solopreneur, and techpreneur. The entrepreneurial world is wide- open and now is a great time to get started with your specialized degree.
A traditional business degree tends to be more focused towards business, with courses covering a variety of topics like economics, statistics, and business fundamentals. A good analogy is medicine — there are general practice degrees and specializations such as cardiology. In general practice education, students learn about a broad variety of areas, whereas cardiology is focused specifically on the heart and how it works. The same contrast applies to entrepreneurship degrees, which are geared toward the specifics of what entrepreneurs need to know for immediate implementation. The course work is developed to help the entrepreneur with their venture, such as capital/funding, social media, and non-profit.
The activities and resources available with an entrepreneurship degree also vary from those of a business degree. In American Public University’s (APU) program, for example, you can create a pitch for your business and present it to “investors” and get immediate feedback. Other activities offered by many universities include business and group competitions, mentors, capital opportunities and, in some cases, a dedicated entrepreneur resource center (look for APU’s new center coming later this year).
The economy can affect the success of your venture and that’s why it’s important to ensure that your idea has a chance. By embarking on an entrepreneurship degree you will acquire the tools to survey not only your market but also the economy. The curriculum will help you to determine what idea you want to turn into a venture and if that idea is viable. If you don’t have an idea, being in an academic program can help you figure that out, too. An education can help you to combine the experience you may already have with the academics of ideating, implementing, and succeeding with a venture.
About the Author
Dr. Cassandra Shaw is the Program Director for Entrepreneurship at APUS. As a solopreneur and intrapreneur and being in academics, she enjoys seeing others succeed. Her passion comes from helping others to see and reach their greatest potential. Follow her on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/shawcassandra/ and Twitter: @ResearchShaw.