Is a college degree necessary for building a successful business? Well, we are going to find out soon. For quite a long time, there has been a silent war of who’s who going on between the academic intellects (school smarts) and the successful drop out billionaires (street smarts). One group argue strongly that a college degree is a leverage to succeeding in the business world while others argue that school does not prepare an individual for the challenges of the business world.
“If I had learned education, I would not have had time to learn anything else.” - Cornelius Vanderbilt
Now who’s right or wrong? Well, I can’t say but instead of taking sides, I am going to sit on the fence and share my own opinion objectively. So is a college degree necessary for building a successful business? Read on to find your own answers.
Is a College Degree Necessary for Building a Successful Business?
Most people will argue in the positive that a college degree building a successful business. I call this group the “School Smarts.” They base their stand on the fact that education gives entrepreneurs an edge, a strong business sense and a good start in business. They also argue that education will give you connections and make you a better networker.
Though I am not academically smart, I can attest to the fact that the school smarts have a strong point there. In fact, they are very correct. But instead of taking sides; let me share with you my own point of view.
P.S: I am not trying to buy anybody over or convince you to accept my point of view. Please note that I am entitled to my own opinion and I will stand strongly by them. You are entitled to yours too. You are also free to criticize my point of view on your blog but please make sure you link to this article so your readers can read my own point of view and make their judgments.
Is a College Degree Necessary for Building a Successful Business?
With respect to the question asked above, here’s my take:
1. Successful entrepreneurs that possess college degrees; I am talking about entrepreneurs such as Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Aliko Dangote; the richest black man in the world have openly stated that education or a college degree has nothing to do with building a business. None of these entrepreneurs have openly accredited their success in business to lessons learned while in college because they see no relationship between entrepreneurship and an academic degree.
I strongly agree with this fact because I have seen academic punks, geeks and students who couldn’t survive in school; grow up to become entrepreneurial giants. And then their classmates or course mates who came out of school with flying colors often begin to wonder “how did the geek of yesterday become so rich.” If a college degree guarantees success, then these super academic geniuses should have maintained their lead in life.
“I have nothing against education. But at times, education gives people false confidence. It makes people relax, trusting in the power of their certificates rather than in working hard.” – Rasaq Okoya
2. The most successful, famous and celebrated entrepreneurs are drop outs. In such group are individuals like Bill Gates, Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry Ford and Larry Ellison. I call them the “Drop out billionaires.” Does this statistics ring a bell in your head?
3. Entrepreneurship is an active game and you don’t learn the ropes by reading books or solving mathematics. You learn by doing; you learn by taking real life test where the consequences and effects of your actions are real. Schools don’t encourage such type of learning.
4. A college degree is never a necessity in building a successful business because the academic process an individual undergoes to obtain a degree abhors mistakes. College degree holders you are driven by the fear of failing, fear of making mistakes and fear of coming out with poor grades. When you make a mistake in school, you are suspended, forced to repeat or reprimanded.
In retrospect, the entrepreneurial process thrives on mistakes. In the business world, mistakes are part of the learning process. Without making business mistakes; there’s no progress.
“Success is a poor teacher. We learn the most about ourselves when we fail, so don’t be afraid of failing. Failing is part of the process of success. You cannot have success without failure.” – Rich Dad
“The business schools reward difficult complex behavior more than simple behavior. But simple behavior is more effective.” – Warren Buffett
5. I believe school limits our entrepreneurial abilities; abilities such as delayed gratification, risk taking, self belief, creativity and instinct. So therefore, the college degree holders lack the entrepreneurial skills to survive in the business world. Entrepreneurship thrives on creativity, innovation and uncertainty while the academic process that produces the college degree holders thrives on boring routine and certainty.
6. To me, a college degree means you’ve given up control of your life; it means you’ve given up your freedom to your boss in return for a job. Entrepreneurship is not about giving up control; it’s all about taking charge of your life. It’s all about taking control of your destiny and living the lifestyle of your dreams.
7. A college degree makes you conservative and conservatives don’t make good entrepreneurs. A college degree molds you into being a good corporate manager; not an entrepreneur and that’s why degree holders end up managing the drop out’s companies. To further understand the discrepancy, I will suggest you read the article linked below.
8. In school, you are forced to take test and exams on your own in return for a college degree but business is a team sport. You don’t take test alone; you don’t play alone. If you must win in business, you’ve got to form business teams and co-operate with the big boys. If you must win in school and receive a degree, you have to play and take test alone. If you co-operate in school, it’s called cheating. What a discrepancy?
“When employees unite, they form a union but when business owners unite, they form a team.” – Robert Kiyosaki
9. How can a college degree be a leverage to build a successful business when entrepreneurship, business and financial intelligence are not taught in school? You might argue that entrepreneurship is now been added as a course to college curriculums. You are right but I will show you a flaw. Most of lecturers and professors teaching entrepreneurship in colleges are not business men and have no real life experience on how to run a business. They only teach what they read in books.
“Business and financial intelligence are not picked up within the four walls of school. You pick them up on the streets. In school, you are taught how to manage other people’s money. On the streets, you are taught how to make money.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
10. The best way to learn the ropes of building a business is never in school. You can never learn to build a business by listening to boring lecturers and solving boring subjects. You learn how to build a business is on the street. You learn how to build a business by actively engaging in the business process; you learn by being mentored by a savvy entrepreneur and you learn by trial and error.
“I have been within the four walls of school and I have been on the street. I can confidently tell you that the street is tougher, challenging, daring, exciting and more rewarding. In school; you play alone. But on the street, you play with the big boys.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
As a final note, I believe I have made my point clear that a college degree does not in any way add value to the entrepreneurial process of building a business. If you feel otherwise, then you are free to challenge or criticize my point of view but be sure to link to this article so that your loyalist can also see my point of view and take their stand. Before I lay my pen to rest, I leave you with these extra pointers.
· Thomas Edison was called a Dumb by his teachers; yet he started from scratch and built General Electric, one of the most powerful companies in the world.
· Henry Ford was called an ignorant man by some academic intellects, yet he built the Ford Motor Company and became one of the richest men in history.
· Larry Ellison dropped out of college twice and was told he will never amount to anything but he went on to build Oracle Corporation, one of the world’s largest software companies.