university graduate walking towards building with gown and mortar board

Is an Academic Education Necessary for Entrepreneurs?

When you look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs alive today, you’ll notice that many dropped out of college – indeed, Richard Branson didn’t even make it that far.

There’s a common tendency to focus more on ‘doing’ and making things happen, which begs the question, given the huge cost associated with an academic education, whether this route is really worth it for the aspiring entrepreneur or business owner.

A lot of people want to make their small business look more professional and assume they need a long list of academic qualifications in order to do this, but the real value value of an education is found in its ability to create more value to the marketplace.

There is no intrinsic value in having a higher education qualification – there are plenty of people with degrees working in call centres. That said, if you were to study something more specific such as interior design for restaurants or dentistry, it would clearly have more application.

See, a lot of people follow the academic route naively thinking it will lead them toward financial independence, but the reality is that a higher education qualification does not automatically lead to higher earnings.

The only way to make more money is to create more value and whilst formal education can contribute to that – it’s not the be all and end all. If you’re looking to enhance your earning ability you’ll want to bear in mind the following principles.


People are compensated based on the value they create for a third party – whether that party is a person or organisation in the form of a client or customer, or an employer – the universal fact remains… that people get paid according to the value they provide. Put simply, if you want to earn more, you need to create more value in terms of the end result you are providing; as the more value you provide the more you will earn.


There are two ways to learn; first is through experience and the second is through education. Nowadays, formal education is much easier to access with many courses (both vocational and academic) available online.

It should be noted, however, that intelligent people don’t get paid more simply because they are more intelligent; it’s because they apply that intelligence in order to create more value. Again, that’s what earning money comes down to – it’s all about creating more value.

It’s important to consider the fact there are plenty of highly educated people working in minimum wage jobs, and oftentimes, you can find highly educated white collar workers attending weekend seminars on topics such as property investing, amazon trading, and digital marketing – in an attempt to escape the rat race where they are often learning from people that dropped out of college to pursue a more ‘real world’ results based career.


The great thing about TED talks is that they are led by people who are doing what they are talking about; real world experts that are on the front line experiencing what they’re professing to have superior knowledge about. They aren’t lecturing from a lectern in their ivory tower, they are out there in the real world, getting results.

That’s what you want. You want to learn from people who are do-ers, those putting themselves out there, and getting real world results  This is where mentorship can pay dividends.

In summary, an academic education might be worth considering if you have something specific you would like to achieve as a result, such as to become a surgeon, but if you are thinking that you need a business degree in order to start a business, think again, as the best way to get good at business is to learn by doing.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *