One advantage of going it alone in the business world is that you don't necessarily need a formal education since you don't have to impress an employer. Still, many successful entrepreneurs earn degrees to acquire the knowledge, skills and credentials often required for business success. The best degree depends somewhat on the mix of technical competency and business acumen required in your business.
Much of the debate over best entrepreneurial degrees centers on two -- business or engineering. A bachelor’s degree in business administration, or better yet, a Master of Business Administration degree, provides a strong framework of business knowledge and management training. Marketing courses are also useful to understand critical aspects of running a business. People who understand the fundamentals of running a business are typically much more efficient and successful in operating start-up companies, according to a February 2012 "Forbes" article.
A 2012 compiling of CEO degrees from a database by a company called "Identified" revealed that engineering was the most popular degree for leaders of American companies. The "Forbes" article contended that this fact is simply based on the volume of engineers that start their own companies. Engineering is a vast field where experts can use physics, math and sometimes chemistry to create products. Engineers often have the inside track for innovation and entrepreneurial development. Key is that they also have the ability to create an effective business plan and structure.
A January 2013 "CEO Blog Nation" article asked business owners to share their thoughts on the best degrees for business owners. Dr. Gayle Carson made a compelling point that a degree related to communications was ideal given the significance of communication skills for business leaders. In many cases, a company CEO must persuasively communicate with investors, analysts, the media, executive managers, front line managers and other employees. The CEO must also interact with business associates to establish relationships.
Hands-On or Industry-Specific
For small business entrepreneurs, hands-on or trade-specific degrees often make the most sense. Certainly, business classes help any business owner. However, a professional carpenter who wants to start a business needs a trade degree and certification in carpentry. To start a medical practice, a person needs the medical degrees necessary to practice legally. Plumbers, construction contractors and auto repair shop owners are all common examples where business owners typically have trade-specific degrees.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.