Entrepreneurs need to be highly educated. What knowledge (and courses) are needed?

It may at first seem odd that something such as entrepreneurship can be taught. Being an entrepreneur often seems like a personal enterprise, something one can only do by themselves. In this world of ours though, nothing can be done alone, and it’s no different when it comes to starting a business. In fact, since setting up a business can be such a large undertaking, it requires more outside help than most other life goals.

One of the big concerns with entrepreneurship is that not all of it can be taught in the classroom. There are of course phenomenal business schools such as the MIT Sloan School of Management, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Keio Business School. Degrees in business and management, including the much-praised MBAs are all good choices for a potential entrepreneur.

But there are real-world risks involved and it requires a fortitude that may not necessarily be possible to teach. Many a would-be entrepreneur is forced to ask themselves, “How do I know if I have what it takes?”

Here are some skills that every entrepreneur needs to be successful.

1.       The ability to raise funds

Businesses require investment, plain and simple. There needs to be capital for the workings of the business and you will often require investment in yourself to be able to handle the stresses and pressure.

This also isn’t necessarily a one-time deal. Businesses require continual investment, especially when first starting. You’ll need to know how to convincingly make a case that your business is a good risk for other individuals and businesses (and banks).

2.       The ability to manage funds

Okay, so now you have the money you need- how do you use it efficiently. Where does it go each month? Are you able to consistently maintain a higher income than outgoings? If you can’t manage money, then you can’t manage a business.

3.       The ability to be productive

This is a tricky one since we all find our own unique ways to be productive. There are certain times of the day, particular routines and tools that one finds through the course of their career to raise one’s productivity. And they will be needed as you create your own plan for success.

4.       The ability to relieve stress

Productivity is one of the cornerstones of a successful business, but it’s not healthy to ‘be on’ 24/7. Stress is no laughing matter especially in such a high-risk environment. It’s important to learn how to take and move on from failure to succeed as an entrepreneur.

5.       The ability to make good hires

Having great people on your team will give your business new strengths and a good company culture will lead to more talented people wanting to join your project. Hiring the right people is an essential skill for success here.

6.       The ability to train staff

Sometimes it’s not always possible to get the perfect person. They may be too expensive, or there is no one with the qualities you need on the job market. In these cases, you need to get the best person for the job, and then train them.

This will keep your business moving in the right direction, keep your staff happy and focused and will set clear lines for your employees to know their roles.

7.       The ability to identify strengths and weaknesses

As a business owner, you don’t need to be perfect at everything, however you do need to know where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Understanding these will inform every decision you make, and make your decisions far more likely to be accurate.

8.       The ability to manage staff

Management is its whole own branch of knowledge, but knowing how to communicate effectively, set clear goals and be a good motivator can help massively with your business, particularly early on, where you will be likely managing everyone in the business.

9.       The ability to understand SEO

Again, when you first begin, you will need to understand almost every facet of the business, including marketing. By learning basic SEO and digital marketing techniques, it can really give your business a head start in finding customers and clients.

10.   The ability to A/B split test

Although this is primarily a tool used to improve the effectiveness of websites and advertising, an A/B split test (in which a process is ran in two different ways to understand which is most effective) is also applicable to many areas of marketing and project management.

11.   The ability to effectively use social networks

With SEO, social networking should be forming a key part of almost any business’s marketing strategy. They are an effective way of communicating directly with potential customers and clients as well as a cost-effective way of setting up your brand identity.

12.   The ability to understand your customers

You can only communicate effectively with your customers if you understand what they need. This goes for how you sell to them, what you sell to them and how these things are provided. So research and ask questions of your potential audience so you’re able to give them what they need.

13.   The ability to spot new trends

Business moves quickly, so you need to be able to see changes coming in your industry. Which is admittedly a lot easier said than done. Keep up-to-date on new businesses and changes in technology, as well as the news to see if anything will disrupt you, or if there’s anything you can gain an advantage from.

14.   The ability to close a sale

If you don’t have much experience in sales, you should be eager to engage in a course or workshop to sharpen up your skills. A single sale can be a rollercoaster of challenges and you’ll need to know what to do every step of the way, especially when the end is in sight.

15.   The ability to deal with failure

Success isn’t a straight road. You will face problems and challenges along the way and knowing how to deal with them and move on is critical. No successful person ever gave up after a failure, remember that.

16.   The ability to make friends with other entrepreneurs

Starting and maintaining your own business can be a lonely road sometimes, so try and find friendship with some going through the same things you are. They will be able to give you advice and insight and maybe even offer a helping hand along the way.

17.   The desire to improve

To create change you will need motivation and for your start-up to be successful, you need to remember the reasons why you began in the first place. Whether it is to make a positive impact in the world, your own personal success or to help another, staying focused and keeping your desire may well be the exact thing you need to get what you want.

What to Study to be an Entrepreneur

So there’s a few basics you will be expected to know and challenged with during the journey or entrepreneurship. There is a lot to take on and of course, the challenges you will face go beyond what we’ve simply listed here.

But don’t let this list discourage you. Becoming a successful businessman is a huge challenge but these are all skills that can be learned.

So if you feel like you’re not perfectly up to scratch with what’s listed above, or that you could do with some more preparation or general training, then don’t fear. There are many great places to study how to be an entrepreneur.

There is an assumption that you have to study business to become an entrepreneur, but that isn’t the case. At IE University, for example, students majoring in psychology, communications, biology and architecture also get involved in entrepreneurial projects. There are lots of paths to becoming a successful businessperson.

Here are some steps you can take to develop your entrepreneurial mind before and during your time at university:

- Choose a university with a good track record

When it comes to entrepreneurship, some schools will be more supportive than others. It’s good to check how many alumni have gone on to start businesses, but also, if you can, check to see how many social initiatives, research projects and businesses are currently, or have recently, been launched by students at the places you are considering.

Make sure that whatever it is you study, your program will support the cultivation of your business skills and provide you with the resources and training you need. If possible, speak to current students to see how the school supports potential entrepreneurs.

-Choose your primary course with care- or don’t

When it comes to your primary choice of course, there will be a temptation, as mentioned to find an entrepreneur course, or one focused on business. And while each of these are good choices, it’s vital for any head of business to be experienced in as many elements of business as they can.

So you will also want to expose yourself to the business sciences, such as entrepreneurship, finance, accounting, marketing and business law. You don't necessarily need to major or minor in these areas, but it can certainly help since they are key aspects of every business.

But also try and learn widely- knowing the basics of business is essential, but what if you’re looking to start a scientific business? You will equally need a scientific background as much as a business one. So stay open minded- many degrees and courses can lead to a successful business.

-Make use of additional education opportunities

Whether your primary course is business oriented or not, always keep a lookout for additional courses or modules that can aid you with the skills you will need. Courses on management, marketing or accounting will be commonly available, some free, some not.

Try to attend classes that interest you. Specifically, focus on the opportunities that help you develop qualities such as imagination, courage, integrity, work ethic and accountability.

It’s also important to take courses on communication so you can develop the interpersonal skills you need persuade and convince others, both your staff and potential investors. Classes with team projects allow you to further develop interpersonal skills by showing you how to work with others.

There will also be chances for internships, which allow you to practice your skills in the real-world, and get feedback from others, before you go off your own to create your start-up.

-Have a plan

It’s all well and good taking the right courses, but it’s important to know what you’re going to do with them. Your business plan will become the roadmap for your venture.

Outline your vision, and write a full description of the business you want to build for yourself. If you’re unsure of how to proceed, workshops, entrepreneurship coursework and advice from faculty can help you devise the perfect business plan.

-Network as much as you can

They say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know and that is perhaps most true in the world of business.

It’s impossible to know 100% about a potential business’ workings, so get as much advice from everyone possible. That goes for potential investors and collaborators too. The faculty, any retired or current businesspeople you might come into contact with, friends, family, anyone from other courses… Anyone you can really.

-Work on your pitch

Once you've developed your business idea, look for events that allow you to share your business idea with potential investors. At some schools, students can even pitch their business ideas by participating in university-organised events. Successful students may just get funding for their business at one of these events, but if not, you never know when the opportunity may arrive.

The Secrets to Being an Entrepreneur

Being a successful entrepreneur takes more than just a good business idea. Entrepreneurs need to be visionaries who can see things that others can’t. Entrepreneurs also need to have the leadership and management skills necessary to transform their vision into reality. They also need to be good communicators so as to sell their ideas to others.

Classes and degrees will prepare you in becoming an entrepreneur and businessperson but ultimately entrepreneurship comes down to the person and how they use their knowledge to lead their company. The degrees they possess and the college training they have received are just a few elements of that. So be bold, gain as much knowledge as you can and stick at it. You may be the CEO of a successful business sooner than you think.