Who doesn’t want to be their own boss? More and more we are seeing that people aspire to be an entrepreneur – a professional that straddles the fine line between being a creative individual and a businessperson.

What qualifies you as an entrepreneur?

Something that often gets asked is what should an aspiring entrepreneur study? The short answer is that you can’t study to be an entrepreneur. It just doesn’t work like that.

“Entrepreneurs don’t need degrees like lawyers and doctors do. They are credentialed by virtue of their track record. The first startup is hard but if they make that one work, they end up with something much better than a college degree. They have a notch in their belt. They’ve got a track record of success.”

This is according to Fred Wilson, an American businessman, venture capitalist and blogger, and the co- founder of Union Square Ventures. To further show you don’t need a formal qualification, one of Facebook’s early investors, Peter Thiel, inititated a fellowship program that offers aspiring entrepreneurs up to $100,000 to drop out of school for two years, or even forget about further tertiary education completely.

In other words, it is not what you have studied that qualifies you as an entrepreneur. Starting a business qualifies you as an entrepreneur.

However, this doesn’t mean you should drop out of school just yet. It still helps to learn certain skills.

What can you study?

A little bit of education will go a long way. While there are some traits you would need as an entrepreneur that can’t be taught in a classroom, like creativity and determination, there are other skills and knowledge that you need to learn. Furthermore, an education will enhance the talents nature has already given you.

Considering that you want to start your own business, it would be good to have a general sense of what it takes to run a business. The best idea will amount to nothing if you don’t know how to develop and execute it. This doesn’t mean you have to pay for an Ivy League MBA programme, which costs huge amounts of money. There are many great business schools in South Africa that will teach you what you need to know, without costing you an arm and a leg.

However, you also need to think about what kind of business you are interested in. For instance, if you want to be the next Mark Zuckerburg, then you need to pursue coding or computer science. Perhaps you are already studying engineering but are now thinking of being an entrepreneur. This doesn’t mean you need to quit what you are currently studying. There might be a start-up in your future that satisfies some need the engineering industry has that isn’t being met elsewhere.

Also remember that it is easier to be creative and innovate when you fill your life with what grips your interests. So even if you study something like anthropology or literature, it is not a waste of time if it gets interesting thoughts and ideas blooming in your mind.

It all depends on what kind of business appeals to you and what knowledge and skills you have working in your favour. Ask yourself where your interests lie, and what kind of entrepreneur you see yourself becoming.

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