Looking at the most prominent figures in the business world, the ones that can serve as true inspirational models for a young entrepreneur’s ventures, it seems that they got where they are today by following one of these tracks: first, there are the ones who went to business school and pursued the traditional path, investing in their education. Then, there are the ones who grew up doing something that was completely unrelated to business studies or even dropped out of school but became affluent business owners by honing their skills through informal training and following their natural skills.
Which option is better? That depends of course, on the person. For all its conservative structure, formal education has its benefits and can provide aspiring entrepreneurs with the theoretical know-how needed to launch a business. On the other hand, informal education is often more convenient, more student-oriented and often leads to the same results.
Formal education: can a business degree guarantee success?
Not all those who graduate from business school end up becoming successful CEOs. As useful as a diploma might be, it is in no way a guarantee that you will get a job afterward or that you will end up working in a Fortune 500 company. However, a postgraduate degree in one of Europe’s top business schools will offer you some unique benefits in your career:
- Relevant courses about sales, marketing or finance that reflect the current state of the market and that will prepare you for starting your own business.
- A wide variety of classes that will help you understand if you are better suited for management or other positions within the company
- Internships that give you hands-on experience in the business world
- A diploma from a high-ranking business school is highly appreciated and could help you stand out when applying for a job at a multinational company.
It goes without saying that a business course alone is not enough to succeed, but it can work as a theoretical base that will make your inborn entrepreneurial spirit even more powerful. If you are interested in joining a prestigious business school, top options include London Business School (UK), Mannheim (Germany), Stockholm School of Economics (Sweden), HEC Paris (France) and IE Business School (Spain). Keep in mind, however, that unless you manage to get a scholarship here, the education fees at either one of these schools can be extremely high and you will need to save up.
Business and informal learning
Whether you don’t like the conventional structure of formal learning or you don’t find this option to be convenient enough for you, informal learning can be a good option for you. Although it is not as structured as the courses of a business school, informal education can still be empowering and even the European Commission advocated for its benefits. If you prefer the unconventional path, you can follow one of these paths:
Online business courses: If you don’t have a good business school near you, you can’t afford to pay the schooling fees or you are working and don’t have the time, online business courses are a good idea. Contrary to popular belief, many business courses are accredited, so you can include them in your resume. You can follow an online business course at home, at the hours that are most convenient to you, and get the skills needed to start your own business.
Mentorship: No matter how prestigious a school might be, and no matter how many books you read, nothing compares to the guidance a mentor can offer you. Business is one of the fields where the person you choose as a mentor and inspiration can influence your success, so it’s crucial to find a teacher, superior or entrepreneur to guide you, at least in the beginning of your journey. Formal education is great for learning the theoretical basis, but a mentor can explain more about what actually happens in the business world and share valuable business advice. In fields such as investment, where a lot of trial and error is involved, you can learn a lot from your mentor’s experience. A mentor can be a teacher, a local investor or if you already work in a global company like XIO Group, a manager or executive who can help you with bespoke advice.
Self-taught entrepreneurs – myth or reality?
Self-taught entrepreneurs make fascinating case studies because it is quite remarkable to become a successful business owner through individual effort alone. The skills of a successful self-taught entrepreneur include passion, determination, innovation and creativity and you can definitely learn a lot from those who have made it this way. However, it’s important to understand that only a few manage to lead influential companies without any sort of formal education or guidance. Behind the few examples, you can follow there are thousands of others who failed in their attempt, so you shouldn’t expect the road to success to be easy.
Now more than ever, aspiring entrepreneurs have at their disposal a wide variety of educational materials and means of formation that can help them learn, so take advantage of all of them to hone your skills and launch your business. Ideally, you should combine the best from each option: invest time and money into getting a business degree, but don’t neglect the benefits of informal learning, the positive influence of a mentor and the power of individual efforts.