Do I need a degree to be an entrepreneur?
Business Management and Entrepreneurship course leader Nicholas Ford explains why going to university is essential if you want to start your own business.
Going to university or starting a business is not an either/or choice. Anyone serious about investing in their ambitions should see courses like our BA (Hons) Business Management and Entrepreneurship degree as a critical head start in the highly competitive environment of entrepreneurship, innovation and start-ups.
How will a university degree help you start a business?
There are no formal qualifications needed to set up a business. But, if you’re hoping to launch the next Gymshark or found a disruptive non-profit like CoppaFeel!, you’ll need to develop an entrepreneurial mindset.
1. Build the skills needed to be an entrepreneur
No matter the field, changemakers have the same core characteristics:
- Identifying opportunities and calculating financial viability
- Realising the potential of a venture through effective business model design
- Developing new ideas and bringing them to market
- Fostering creativity and driving innovation within an organisation
You may have a great idea, but you’ll need business acumen to turn your idea into a successful, sustainable enterprise.
Business degrees give you the space and time to hone these critical skills in a safe environment. A good one will give you opportunities to work on real-life projects or go on placements with industry leaders before launching out on your own. And once you're ready to go solo, you'll have already built an important network of connections.
2. Get a head start on funding
The ability to gain investment and funding is essential for an entrepreneur. This will be an easier task if you can demonstrate the skills or experience gained through a degree.
Portsmouth Entrepreneurship students regularly take part in global funding competitions. This gives early-career entrepreneurs the much-needed experience of presenting business cases in front of real investors and gaining valuable feedback.
Read the experience of a BSc (Hons) Business Management and Entrepreneurship graduate when they presented their business plan at the Hult Prize competition – a United Nations initiative inviting students from around the world to develop social enterprises and compete for $1million.
3. Build a network and capitalise on collaboration opportunities
It’s also worth considering that being your own boss can be a lonely experience. At university, you’ll learn and grow alongside like-minded people. Not only will you connect with industry experts as mentors, you also have your coursemates to lean on. Many of our graduates go on to found businesses together, as well as find ways to collaborate in the future.
You also have the opportunity to join special interest University networks like Portsmouth’s Innovation Connect Community.
4. Explore new ideas or career pathways
You don’t need to already have a business idea to do an entrepreneurial degree. In fact, by not having a set idea, you’re much more open to discovering new niches and opportunities that present themselves to you while at university.
It's also worth remembering that being entrepreneurial doesn’t always mean starting your own business. Intrapreneurs - innovation drivers within an organisation - are in high demand by organisations to help keep brands at the forefront of their market. Graduates of our Entrepreneurship degrees have gone on to have successful managerial careers in roles such as business intelligence and insight officer by utilising the entrepreneurial skills they have developed on the course.
What to look for in an entrepreneurship degree
Not all business degrees are equal, and it’s important that you make sure the one you choose is right for you.
Entry requirements and module outlines are important, but you should also look at the reputation of the business school. For example, the Portsmouth Business School was voted the third Most Influential Business School in the World by the Financial Times Teaching Power Rankings, 2021.
You should look at the school’s industry ties and placement opportunities. Our students have landed placements in companies like Disney, IBM and Ferrari, carried out consultancy projects with local companies or studied a year abroad.
You should also research the support available outside of the degree. At Portsmouth, we have a strong start-up support service for students. We also have the Enterprise in Residence programme and Enactus Portsmouth; a non-profit organisation which sets up social enterprises tackling issues in and around the city.
Ongoing support for your career and business
Finally, your journey at university doesn’t end when you finish your degree. Once you graduate, you become part of a wider alumni network and the benefits this brings are immeasurable.
Portsmouth Alumni get up to 5 years free careers support. This includes the same access to the start-up services and networks you have when you study with us. This is one of the reasons why 100% of our Business Management and Entrepreneurship students were in work or further study 15 months after graduating (HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey, 2018/19).
The opportunities university provides to hone your entrepreneurial skills in a safe environment, to be supported while you take business risks and to build a professional network are unrivalled. So if you’re serious about being an entrepreneur, it’s time to invest in yourself and get that head start for your business.
Some universities might just educate you and send you off into the world, but Portsmouth did so much more for me. Its Innovation Space helped me properly launch the idea, even becoming my first client.