Probably more so than any time in the past, more people are looking to break the mould in career planning with the ultimate aim of becoming entrepreneurs. The feeling that the best person to help you make a good and interesting living is yourself may not be new but it has seldom been so prevalent.
In the current troubled economic climate, making the decision to become an entrepreneur may not just be aspirational; it may also be based on a solid realization that this is still one of the best ways to achieve success.
However, like many ambitions it is easier said than done. After all, just how does one become an entrepreneur? The importance of education cannot be over emphasized and therefore anyone wanting to go down this road needs to choose wisely in his or her college allocation.
The first thing to note is that although many colleges will offer courses in entrepreneur studies (or something similarly named), this can often be something of a false dawn when it comes to career planning. By all means investigate what these courses have to offer, but bear in mind that it may at first hamper your career prospects, as many employers will be unsure what the course actually represents. To this end, the following are courses that may well be the best classes for future entrepreneurs.
Make no mistake about it; if you leave college without a firm grasp of marketing, a career as an entrepreneur will be over before it has begun. The best product or service will fail if the right people don't know it exists, so look for a business-based course that includes a strong marketing element. Also, make sure it has fully embraced social network marketing to ensure that you have the best start in your career.
A creative element
This may be called a number of things (such as Creative Business or Business Creativity), but it boils down to the fact that businesses without creativity will fail (even if it manages to get off the ground in the first place). The reason for this is simple: if you're not being creative, your competitors will already have an edge. If your ultimate business goal is what can be perceived as "non-creative (such as finance, accounting or law-based), don't fall into the trap of thinking this doesn't apply to you. It's not about designing funky logos, but rather about a creative business model that makes the most of a niche and helps give your business its edge.
Talking about "non-creative," don't turn your nose up at this. It may not be the most exciting subject to some, but it is pivotal in a successful business. Just ask a company such as Apple is they treat the accountancy side with disdain because they're in a creative field. Also, don't think you can farm this side out to a dedicated firm of accountants — you can, but don't you want to have a good idea whether they're doing a good job? Accountancy or finance classes will help you get the basics right so your business remains on solid foundations.
These two subjects often — and should — over lap, so look for a course that not only allows you to study business strategies (those that have failed as well as those that have succeeded), but one that gives you a solid understanding of the importance of reputation management. Always important, this has now become essential in the age of social media where reputations can be built and demolished online.
Of course, this is the most important subject and it should form a core of your study. It can be taken as a single class, or as a degree. Whichever option you choose, take the time to fully study the prospectus of the establishment and make sure it covers all the above. Don't be shy of contacting the establishment and asking any questions you may have to ensure you get the best possible start to your career.
It may be that college is not an option — at least full time — but this should not put you off. There are a number of online courses that can give you a strong foundation in entrepreneurship and even if you are attending college these can act as a useful adjunct. The government runs one such course, the Small Business Primer, which is a great place to start.
There are even some great free classes such as those run by UC Berkeley and the UK's Open University that can be really helpful.
If you want to go to an actual college and have studied all the prospectuses and are still wondering which might give you the best chance to succeed as an entrepreneur, then Boston, Grand Canyon and Western Carolina universities all offer first rate course. Search the web and look for current and past students' feedback as this can often be one of the best ways to gauge a course.
Students interested in entrepreneurship: what classes have you found most useful? Let us know in the comment section!
About the Author: Tony Duffield is a freelance writer for Cornerstone Automation Systems. The company manufactures and integrates a full line of leading edge material handling systems, such as conveyors, intended for distributors and manufacturers.