Do You Need a Business Degree to Start a Business?

Business Degree

Entrepreneurs start businesses in many ways. Some dive right into building their companies. Others complete training and education first. Do you need a business degree to start a business? Though there is no rule saying you must earn a degree; many successful startup stories begin with a college education.

Do you need a business degree to start a business?

If you’re like many aspiring business owners, you’ve considered going to college, but you’re hesitant about pursuing a business degree. Looking at how other entrepreneurs got started might help you decide which route is best for you.

Hugely successful entrepreneurs with no business degree get a lot of publicity. They are business world heroes who skipped the institution and forged their own paths to the top. Passing on the cost of higher education to run a profitable company is an attractive plan. But, is it the norm for today’s business owners?

According to the most recent statistics, the answer is no. A 2012 Manta survey revealed that most business owners (64%) had some form of education after high school. Of those, 23% had bachelor’s degrees and 17% had graduate degrees.

Do you need a degree to start a business?

Technically, no. But, whether aspiring entrepreneurs should go to college for business is a heavy debate. While some are against earning a business degree, others say it makes all the difference.

Why some say you don’t need a business degree

Though most owners have at least some college experience, not all support business degrees. Many career paths require you to hold credentials to work in the industry. Business ownership is not one of those. So, if there’s no education needed to own a business, why go to college?

Here are some common reasons for starting a business without a degree.

The cost is high

One of the biggest explanations for business owners establishing companies without a degree is the cost of college. Education expenses vary widely by school, program, and degree. Depending on the track you choose, you could end up owing a lot of money for a business degree.

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) provides experience in business strategy, accounting, and marketing, among other subjects. This level of training is valuable to business owners, but it comes at a price. According to MBA Programs, the average cost of MBA tuition is $50,000 per year or $80,000 for the full two years.

Costs don’t stop after commencement for new entrepreneurs. The internet is full of startup ideas that require little or no overhead. But, usually starting a business requires cash. A 2009 study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation said the average cost to start a business from scratch is just over $30,000.

Put these figures together, and you’re looking at an expensive future. Of course, not every business owner’s debts are the same. There are financial aid programs available and less expensive business degree options. Entrepreneurs also have a variety of small business funding options, such as SBA loans, business credit cards, and angel investors.

College takes time

Aspiring business owners don’t want to clock in and out of their jobs like robots every day. They are passionate about their ventures, which drives them to grow their companies. Often, entrepreneurs want to start their businesses right away.

Building a business takes time. With so much to do for the business, entrepreneurs might feel that a four-year degree is too long to wait. And, they will likely have to take extra courses required for the business degree that have nothing to do with their business plan. For certain individuals, time might be better spent developing the startup.

Support for business degrees

The majority of business owners have at least some college experience. Though you don’t need a degree to own a company, education can make you a better business owner. Here are examples of how a degree can help you as an entrepreneur.

Gain communication skills

As a business owner, good communication skills are crucial. If you can’t sell, you won’t make money. College teaches you how to communicate with different audiences (one-on-one and to a crowd) through multiple channels (written and verbal).

University communication experiences transfer into operating a business. From generating leads to negotiating prices, you need to be able to “talk the talk” in diverse settings.

Be a problem-solver

As an entrepreneur, you constantly face new challenges that you must overcome to stay in business. You use your resources to solve problems and adapt to changes. A business degree gives you pre-ownership insight so you don’t have as many startup lessons learned the hard way.

A business degree prepares you in many ways to run a business. What skills do you need to start a business other than problem solving? You also need to understand time management, how to organize, and project management. College will help you develop the ability to make a road map for your goals.

Create a network

A large part of building a successful business has to do with your connections. People introduce you to mentors and clients who help your company grow. By earning a business degree, you have a professional network before you start your company.

With all the technology available, word-of-mouth is still a valuable tool for business owners. Long-term relationships in business form over time within your network. With a business degree, you shake influential hands that can help you get your operation off the ground after college.

Have a backup plan

By getting a business degree, you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket. If your company fails, you have that degree to fall back on. Considering only about half of new businesses survive the first five years (according to the SBA), it’s a good idea to have a backup plan.

Even if you learn how to start a small business that is profitable, you might find that entrepreneurship is not for you. One Bureau of Labor Statistics survey showed that baby boomers held an average of 11.7 jobs. And, people are jumping jobs more than ever. Having a business degree will make transitioning into a different career a smoother process.

We’re human beings. We fail. We change our minds. We evolve. For entrepreneurs, a business degree offers experience needed to run a successful business and opens doors to future opportunities.

Amanda Cameron is a content writer for Patriot Software, LLC. At Patriot, she explains difficult payroll and accounting topics for small business owners.

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Learning Management Software or LMS Trends that Schools Should Know

Learning Management Systems (LMS) are used by universities, colleges, and schools to offer e-learning courses in addition to their conventional courses on campus. Companies also utilize this type of software to offer online education and training to their employees. For these reasons, the LMS market is expected to boom to more than $7 billion by the year 2018 and the global e-learning market is expected to rake in revenue of about $31 billion by 2020. You can select a suitable LMS for your needs by reading the expert reviews in a reputable directory’s list of SaaS software. LMSs have evolved and changed over the years and in this article I provide you with details about the latest trends in this industry that you should be aware of.

Tin Can

The previous SCORM format has made way for Tin Can API, and leading LMSs are incorporating this change. Tin Can API offers many advantages compared to SCORM. While both formats enable you track time used up on assignments as well as test completion, Tin Can API goes a step further and gives you the chance to see detailed results, utilize your content and learning materials outside the LMS, and move seamlessly between different LMSs. For these reasons, Tin Can API has become popular among educators and content authors.

Open Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Systems

Cloud-based SaaS products allow easy setup and use of LMSs and they can be accessed from anywhere, anytime. But they have the drawback of minimal customization. In comparison, open source products are easy to customize, but their drawbacks are frequent downtime and administration. Open SaaS platforms are the answer as they incorporate the best traits of both systems and provide easy customization as well as minimized setup expenses. As a result, open SaaS systems are becoming popular as they reduce ownership costs and offer service delivery for the unique requirements of companies.

Gamification

Gamification uses gaming mechanics and elements to add a fun element to education and LMSs. It improves learning speed and retention among students. As a result, gamification has become a popular trend in the learning industry. Top LMSs are increasingly incorporating gamification and improving their portal design and interface as well. Gamification increases engagement, allows learners to employ strategies such as time management, and make use of incentive and reward systems. As a result, the education process becomes entertaining, and the learning potential is improved through incentivized behaviors and processes.

Social Learning

Social networks have become popular because they enable people to schedule stuff and share information with their contacts. Millions of people have formed online social circles and keep themselves informed on what their friends and contacts are up to, and share intimate details with them. Now, the education and learning industry is making use of social networks too. LMSs use them to provide access to learning materials to learners and enable them to collaborate and share content and knowledge in their social circles. Going further, we can expect LMSs to deliver adaptive and personalized talent management and training solutions to learners through social networks. Leading LMSs will start using knowledge collaboration and social learning tools such as Twitter, blog, communities, discussion forums and more.

Blended Learning

This is another growing trend in the learning industry. Companies are using blended learning to provide in-depth training to their employees. LMSs are integrating practical and digital learning tools and supplementary materials to augment classroom learning. Plus, users get hands-on experience. Thus, blended learning helps LMSs to provide more effective learning to both corporate employees as well as students. Another advantage is you can use a single website to schedule exams and tests, and organize and monitor them. Plus, it reduces the overall expenses of training. Because of these numerous benefits, I’m sure we’ll see more of blending learning in LMSs in the future.

Increased Corporate Use

Companies have been using LMSs to train their employees and this trend is expected to pick up pace in the future as they realize that there are many benefits to investing in the personal development and education of their staff members. LMSs have proved to be a big help in management as well as customer engagement. Besides, training employees can boost morale and minimize turnover. Plus, business partners and customers can utilize the information dissemination and tracking features in LMS. Companies can use a good quality LMS to devise their customer service website and e-commerce strategies.

Video Learning

A Cisco report has predicted that video content will make up 80% of the global internet traffic by the year 2019. Users are expected to upload and share about a million minutes of video content each second. This trend is not surprising as videos have become a popular medium to tell stories, provide information, and captivate viewers. LMSs have capitalized on this trend and are including videos in their courses and blended learning plans. In addition to documents, PowerPoint presentations, etc., LMSs are supporting both uploaded and streamed videos.

Interactive E-learning Conversations

Unidirectional training is not that effective for knowledge retention and learning. As user preferences and behavior are continuously evolving, it is important to include interactive learning methods. You can do this by getting learner feedback to understand their needs. For this purpose, LMSs are offering surveys and polls to collect learners’ ideas, suggestions, opinions, and inputs based on which educators and companies can developed learning and development plans and strategies.

Smart Data

I believe there’ll be increased use of business intelligence (BI) elements in LMSs. BI helps to extract actionable insights from the large volumes of learning management information and data compiled by universities and corporations. They can use the data insights to improve processes and devise more effective learning and development strategies. This is likely to improve the reporting functionality of LMSs giving you the ability to quickly generate standard reports, apply needed filters, export reports to different formats, and view important reports as graphs and charts. This actionable insight will help educators and corporations to make smart learning and business decisions.

Use of APIs for Integration with Third Party Applications

APIs are used by companies to integrate the different best-of-breed business systems that they use. LMSs are following this trend and are offering API connectors to help enterprises seamlessly integrate the learning management system with third-party apps for data sharing and to easily manage different functions. This integration automates processes and workflows, and enables flow of information between different applications. All you need is a little technical assistance to use the APIs offered by your LMS to boost your organization’s efficiency and productivity.

Micro-learning

In today’s digital age, the human attention is declining year by year. Therefore, LMSs are delivering content in the form of small information nuggets rather than large volumes of data. This method fits aptly with learners’ attention spans and needs. LMSs are using blending learning to help companies upload and deliver small-sized content that can be combined with conventional training methods such as virtual classroom, ILT, etc. for holistic learning.

Conclusion

I hope this article has adequately apprised you on the key trends happening and expected to take place in the LMS industry. If you know any other trends or are using your LMS in an innovative manner to train learners, feel free to share the details with us.

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5 Tips for Starting a Business While in College

You’re in the middle of writing a 10-page essay on feminism in the digital age when it happens. An amazing idea hits you as you sit in your dorm and you know. Following in the footsteps of Gates and Zuckerberg, you’re ready to start your own business.

But where do you begin?

Here are 5 fantastic tips to help you launch your business and maintain your GPA.

Know What You’re Getting Into

Launching a business takes time, effort, time, money, time, plus more time. Client calls have to be scheduled around Econ 201, orders fulfilled the same week your essay for Russian Lit due, and work doesn’t stop for finals week. Many of us already need more hours in a day and as a college student (especially if you’re full-time) your time is at a premium. How does this fit into your life? How much funding will you need for a launch? What products or services are you offering? Do you need to a license? Does your business need to be registered with the state? You can answer all these questions by writing a business plan. This document helps you turn your idea into actionable steps. It also comes in handy when you’re securing funding, but more on that later.

Value Your Time, Build a Website

We already know your time is precious and one great place to conserve time is in building your website. Do you need a website for your business? Yes, you absolutely do. 81% of customers look online before buying products or services and you don’t want to miss out on those potential leads. It’s simple to get started but the design will take the most time. If you know CSS and HTML, this part is no problem. But don’t worry, there are options for those who can’t cascade style sheets. Web builders like Weebly, WordPress, Wix, and SquareSpace all offer templates you can customize without any coding.

Can’t build your own website? Find someone else to do it for you. The internet is full of designers ready to build your site at every budget level and you can approach them directly. If that option is outside of your budget, websites like Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, and Upwork have a database of freelancers offering a their services for a range of pricing.

Looking for a free option? Find someone willing to do a skill swap. Offer a designer your product or one of your services for free in exchange for designing your website. Not only will you get a new website, you’ve also made a connection and found a future evangelist for your business.

The point is, value your time. You don’t want to spend hours, days, or months coding your own website. And you definitely don’t want to spend that much time learning how to do it yourself before you even get started building one. While it would be a nice skill to have, unless you’re already studying this in school, you should stick to what is going to get you the result you need as quickly as possible.

Find Your Free Resources

As a student entrepreneur, take advantage of all of the free resources at your fingertips. Set up an official business email address using your own domain. There are free options available which means you have more money to spend on other essential items for your business.

Check in with your school’s business center or entrepreneurship support services. Some colleges offer access to space, development resources, pitch days and training, and mentorship opportunities.

Are there any classes that could directly support your business? Think outside of the norm and focus specifically on skills for your business. Maybe textile classes, computer science, or design are just what you need to launch yourself. What does your library or college offer to support small businesses?

Finally, the Small Business Association website is full of advice, resources, and the latest federal business regulations.

Get Out and Mingle

Starting a business can feel like a solitary venture but don’t let yourself stay holed up in your dorm room hacking away at a business plan. Some of the best business breakthroughs are born from conversations with other people. So go forth and network.

Find events at your school for entrepreneurs. Are any organizations based around starting businesses? Join or just attend their events. Organize your own event by partnering with an established organization. Find out what’s happening in your community. Are there any local or national organizations having events nearby? Is there an upcoming conference you can attend in person or online? Look to social media. Join Facebook entrepreneurship groups. Follow like-minded people on Twitter and Instagram. Find companies you admire and follow them on LinkedIn. Look for a small business or entrepreneur Meetup to attend. The internet is full of people ready to share advice and even pool resources.

Find a Mentor

One important part of starting a new business is finding a mentor, someone you can look to for advice or call on in a pinch. This should be someone you trust and admire and with whom you can have candid conversations. These folks are all around you in college, all you need to do is reach out to them. Talk to teachers, guest speakers, and alumni. If you’re in a fraternity or sorority, reach out to your fellow members. Connect with people on Twitter, LinkedIn, or new apps like Shapr. Be professional, be confident, be yourself, and make the ask. You never know who will say yes.

The Bottom Line

Starting a business always takes effort, moreso when you have to go to classes every day. With the right preparation and support, a successful launch and acing your finals are absolutely possible. Set your goals, know your needs, and find your resources. You’ve got this. Good luck.

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