Learn Before You Leap

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Q: I’m a recent college graduate and I was wondering if it would be a good idea to take a few courses toward a master’s before I venture into starting a business. The company I work for will pay for my education. Should I take the courses or pursue my entrepreneurial dreams?
Name and Address Withheld

A: There’s no clear-cut answer to this, but in my opinion, it’s best to learn everything you can about the industry in which you plan to launch your business. I’d recommend taking the courses, especially if it’s not going to cost you anything. While taking the courses, you can network and pick the brains of your professors and peers so you’re better prepared when it comes time to take the entrepreneurial plunge. There’s also the image factor. It looks impressive when you put your biography in your business plan and you can state that you have a master’s degree.

If possible, work in the business/industry as an employee for an established company before going solo. This will allow you to gain valuable insight and learn about the industry’s inherent challenges before you invest your own time and money launching your venture. This is also a good way to work alongside people with greater experience, whom you can turn to if you have questions or need a little guidance.

it’s not necessary for one to have a master’s degree to be a successful entrepreneur; there have been many success stories about those with very little formal education. However, I believe that the more you learn about your field and the better educated you become, the better the chances of your venture succeeding.