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The Rise of the Self-Educated Entrepreneur

There have always been sayings about “skills they don’t teach you at school.” Whether its street smarts or a head for business, the received wisdom is that a high-quality education isn’t the only way to succeed in the world.

This may be true today more than ever. The rise of the self-educated entrepreneur indicates that business leaders are more often self-made than taught. This guide separates fact from myth and explores why an ever-increasing number of business leaders are self-taught.

Conventional Education and Entrepreneurial Skills

Schools and colleges have increased their focus on business skills in the past 20 years, but has it been effective? High school business classes are often perceived as an “easy” subject compared to the hard sciences and math.

The story is slightly different at the college level – many business roles require at least an undergraduate degree in business administration or management. Senior roles typically require an MBA, and experienced professionals may take an MBA to increase their chances of promotion.

However, while advanced degrees may be advantageous when entering the corporate world, entrepreneurship is a different story. A business degree might help someone manage a company – knowing how to create one from scratch requires a different skill set. 

Self-Educated Role Models

Henry Ford never attended high school. Richard Branson dropped out of school at 16. Steve Jobs was a college dropout. There are numerous examples in recent history of business leaders who learned little from their studies (or didn’t study at all). They’re regularly held up as inspiring figures.

There’s a mixed lesson in this. It shows that individuals don’t need to meet preordained “standards” to eventually succeed. However, it doesn’t mean that education isn’t valuable – Steve Jobs noted that Apple’s typography would’ve been far inferior if he hadn’t sat in on a calligraphy class.

People engage with stories about leaders who took the initiative and learned what they needed rather than what they were told they needed. This is perhaps driving the increase in self-educated entrepreneurs today.

Factors Encouraging Self-Educated Entrepreneurs

What is self-education? It can be anything from reading to taking an online course that isn’t provided by a conventional or accredited institution. In extreme cases (e.g. abstract math), it might just be sitting and thinking about life!

However, most self-educated business leaders learn by seeking out the most affordable and relevant information to their goals. Here are 3 factors that enable entrepreneurial self-education today.

Accessible Courses & YouTube

There is a plethora of accessible, affordable online courses in every conceivable subject. These aren’t accredited or held to the same standards as courses from traditional educators – but the information they provide may still be high-quality.

YouTube is perhaps the greatest facilitator of free, accessible educational courses. Business leaders and subject specialists can teach everything an individual would learn in a full-length degree but without the exorbitant cost. This frees them up to save and invest in their own ventures.

Stagnant Traditional Career Paths

People are learning from their Millennial parents and older siblings that a college education doesn’t guarantee success or stability. The days when a degree promised a job at the end are long gone.

The conventional routes aren’t working anymore. People are looking for a more affordable way to make millions without the stress and heavy investment.

Inspirational Figures are Often Individualistic

Inspirational figures will always capture the imagination. The legend of the “self-made” individual holds a lot of currency today. Young people are encouraged to think on their feet and work for themselves rather than join the corporate rat race. 

Final Thoughts

People are realizing that acquiring a useful education doesn’t need to cost tens of thousands of dollars. The vastly increased educational resources for entrepreneurs suggest that the age of the self-educated entrepreneur is only getting started.

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