The high rate of successful entrepreneurs who dropped out of school is inspiring a new trend amongst students in various ivory towers across the world today. Many have toed this part and dropped out of school with the intent of pulling a similar jaw-dropping story like that of Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, and some Silicon Valley tech moguls.
This trend has triggered the “do entrepreneurs need education?” question and not just needing education, do they really need the education to succeed? If Mark has proven that education is no longer the key to success, could that be set in stone and be as formal precedence for all entrepreneurs?
This question is one that is very tricky to answer. But it can be answered expressly in one word and that’s NO.
However, education is ambiguous; having two meanings. There is formal education and there is informal education. The former is optional for entrepreneurs while the latter is needed by entrepreneurs.
The formal education which is widely talked about and what we are referring to in the context here has to do with obtaining a college or university degree high, but high school isn’t optional for anyone. Everyone needs that standard of education regardless of whatever career path you choose.
Why Entrepreneurs don’t Need Education?
This is because there’s no single route to success and designating education (formal education) as the ultimate key to success in every endeavor in life and the context here, is an exaggeration of the essence of education.
Over the last two decades, entrepreneurial barons have faulted this age-long maxim “for you to be successful, you need to go to college and acquire a degree” by ditching ivory towers and chasing their dreams uninhibited.
So the answer to the big question “do entrepreneurs need education? is one that has to be answered by specifying the kind of education in question. Formal education isn’t necessary, it only gives an added advantage as well as an intellectual edge over competitors, but it isn’t a prerequisite to become an entrepreneur or succeed as one.
With a raw talent well-honed, a rare zeal to succeed, consistency, a positive mindset, courage, a heart for taking risks, open to ideas, willingness to learn, and vision, anyone armed with a high school certificate can succeed as an entrepreneur.
But an education can’t be ruled out in its entirety for entrepreneurs. The acquisition of skills or the learning of business trade is also part of education and can be categorized under informal education. Life in itself is an endless learning process so education is a given for entrepreneurs. The marked distinction here is where the said education is being obtained. Is it from the school or from just anywhere? That’s the difference.
Education for Entrepreneurs
Now that we’ve laid that distinction between the kind of education needed by entrepreneurs, we can now focus on the education that’s not optional for entrepreneurs. Now it’s also important that we differentiate entrepreneurs from business owners or those who intend to become CEOs via entrepreneurship. Business owners will be needing that degree from a university and even an MBA because they are looking at managing staff and sitting on the board of directors in a company. That’s hardly a task for one who isn’t groomed within the four walls of a university. There are jargons, structures, and lots of technicalities involved in sitting in that position. Only a degree and an MBA can comfortably equip one for that kind of position.
Entrepreneurs are mostly independent. They run a sole proprietorship kind of business. This kind is devoid of staff, a board of directors, and all the complexities associated with running a multinational organization.
If entrepreneurs are looking to expand their business up to that level, they would certainly need to go through the back door to obtain a degree if they can’t afford the time for formal education. A back door can be through part-time studies, obtaining a diploma, and furthering it with an MBA or any other means. But they certainly need a formal education when their business graduates from being a sole proprietorship kind to a partnership.
Lack of formal education in this scenario can be detrimental for the entrepreneur. It is risky and not something advisable.
These days, anyone who can read and write, and is armed with an internet connection can take up online courses, obtain a degree, and be certified to work in most sectors. This can pass for a more legitimate back door to formal education for entrepreneurs.
Why The Trend of College Drop Outs Will Endure?
Entrepreneurs are more result-oriented. With that kind of drive, they are hardly patient to undertake some of the additional courses required while obtaining a degree. They are hell-bent on hitting the hammer directly on the head of the nail. Cut to the chase and tell them how can they recycle plastics and forget about the first 20 elements. That’s an instant of the kind of learning they want. So they’ll rather look elsewhere around a technical college where the lectures are direct and concise.
Furthermore, inspiring stories from successful entrepreneurs around the world hardly come with a line that reads “Thanks to my college degree, my lecturers, and my alma mater” rather you read lines like “I had a thing for gadgets, I was passionate about them, I left school and started building automated gadgets from my dad’s garage”
Testimonials like this inspire students to look at their college degree pursuit and have a rethink.
Bill Gates on one occasion after speaking to a set of graduating students in his alma mater, said “Thankfully I’m giving this speech at your graduation, if I had spoken to you guys like this on your matriculation, most of you won’t have the drive to continue”
He specifically said, “I’m a bad influence on students”.
With people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson out there, more college dropouts are expected, and the answer to the question will continually be in the negative. Entrepreneurs do need education but not necessarily the formal education where they’ll have to sit in classrooms, write tests, exams, be graded, and their college degree fate which is believed to be the route to success, decided by a school system.
Entrepreneurs are majorly trend disruptors, and formal education isn’t a bad idea for them. If they can acquire it, fantastic. If they decide not to, it’s still great.