Kids aren’t the only ones who went back to school this month. Entrepreneurs, too, are heading back to the classroom and are reaping many benefits from breaking out their pencils and notebooks. Kyle Jensen, director of entrepreneurship programs at the Yale School of Management, says he’s seen many entrepreneurs return to school after starting a business in order to gain the formal education they may have been missing. Even the most experienced entrepreneurs can benefit from classroom learning.
Create a well-rounded entrepreneur.
Returning to school, Jensen says, can not only contribute to entrepreneurs’ understanding of their particular business, but also to the craft of entrepreneurship. “They come back to school with all the dots and our job is to connect those dots with theory,” he says. The entrepreneur leaves the classroom with a better ability to generalize past their own experience and they gain valuable insights they can then use to grow their business and boost their potential.
Mike Campbell, CEO of Iron Lot, a heavy-equipment sales and export company, decided to go back to school last fall, seven years after starting the company, to obtain his bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship from Liberty Online University. “Formal education is a tremendous resource for an entrepreneur,” he says. “Not only does it increase one’s practical knowledge, it sharpens and inspires ideas.”
Provide practical knowledge.
Pursuing a degree in entrepreneurship has helped Campbell to improve his understanding of business, the accounting process, inventory management, pricing and international trade agreements. Economics classes have broadened his understanding of global economies and gave him a better foundation for understanding pricing and competition which enabled him to make pricing changes that have led to higher profit.
“The business changes I have made as a result of this education have greatly improved my profitability,” he says. The added profit to his business, he says, will far exceed the financial cost of his education.
School can also help entrepreneurs enhance their skills, providing added benefit to the business. School writing projects helped improve Campbell’s communication skills, enabling him to communicate better to customers and restore relationships.
Learn from peers.
School provides a new pool of resources for entrepreneurs. Classmates and instructors can provide guidance and new insights that entrepreneurs would be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
An opportunity to re-build.
For Campbell, going back to school was an important part of the process of rebuilding his company. His company struggled after the recession and it was made clear that some changes would be necessary for Campbell to pull through.