The American dream often involves a heavy dose of success in business, and there’s few higher levels of success than leading a business you started to the top. But running a business isn’t easy, and thousands of businesses fail each year; the survival rate for businesses after 5 years is only a little over 50% since 1994, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those businesses that do survive have something going for them, whether it’s a great and innovative product, or excellent leadership, or a powerful marketing campaign. So what’s the best way to get these advantages in your corner? The most obvious answer is education: after all, you can’t very well run a business if you don’t understand how business works. Let’s look at a few of the business degree programs out there which can help you to gain the knowledge you need to take your next venture to the top.
Business administration is one of the most commonly available business degrees, while also being the most flexible. Business administration programs are centered around everything you need to know to run a company, offering a base level education in all areas of business. One of the advantages of obtaining a degree in business administration is the abundance of concentrations typically available within the major, allowing you to build your skills in an area you might see as a weakness, or to augment your existing knowledge and interest in an area you’re passionate about. Some business administration programs even have a concentration in entrepreneurship available, providing you with an education that’s tailored to your goals. Additionally, for those looking for higher level degrees, the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) is one of the most respected degree programs out there, and often has specially designed options for those who plan to start their own business.
As the owner of a business, you’ll be the boss at the head of the chain of command. That means giving orders and assignments, making decisions as to how the company will progress, and handling and supervising personnel. Degree programs in business management emphasize all these areas, helping students learn how to lead and become decisive. They can also teach you how to go about hiring employees, facilitate teamwork amongst your staff, and handle difficult situations with those working under you. Like business administration programs, management programs also frequently include coursework in other areas of business, such as finance and marketing, allowing you to still build up your general business skills while maintaining a focus on the high-level management skills you’ll someday need.
All entrepreneurs know that money is the lifeblood of a business, and having a solid understanding of the flow of assets through your business can be critical to succeeding in the modern age. Finance degree programs are a bit more math heavy than most business programs, but don’t let that scare you away. Finance is all about projections for the future, which is a key skill for a business owner to possess. You need to be able to understand how your business can grow, what’s sustainable and what would be an over extension of your resources, and how the shape of the overall market and economy can affect your situation—all of which can be learned over the course of earning a finance degree. This is especially important in the early days of a start-up, before the business has a dedicated finance department who can handle these things for you. Courses in finance can also help you to better understand your tax obligations, which can help you to avoid common mistakes that can doom a business before it even gets off the ground.
While these three degrees are some of the stand-out options for entrepreneurs, the truth is that just about any business degree will give you an advantage when starting a company of your own, whether it’s a small local restaurant or a tech company destined for the Fortune 500. The more you understand business overall, the better your odds for success, and there’s few ways of gaining that understanding that are more reliable than a solid degree from a good school. If you plan on starting your entrepreneurial journey soon, consider picking up a degree before you embark. It just might make the difference between being on one side of that 50% success rate or the other.