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How Much Education Is Required for an Entrepreneur to Succeed?


According to common sense, the more educated an entrepreneur is, the better their prospects of success are. College, a master’s degree, and several training programs should provide them with more information and expertise that they may apply to their business.

At the same time, there are several examples of entrepreneurs who dropped out of college (or even high school) and went on to accomplish great things. So, how much schooling does a successful entrepreneur require?

The anecdotal evidence.

To begin, we must admit that no matter what your perspective is, you can find anecdotal evidence to support your views. For example, David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, dropped out of high school and is now a billionaire, alongside Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Amancio Ortega, and Francois Pinault.

Similarly, there are numerous examples of entrepreneurs who dropped out of college and went on to become extremely successful. Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs are all famous for dropping out of college at some point, and many of them did so to focus full-time on their iconic businesses.

Of course, there are numerous examples of entrepreneurs who became successful after earning an advanced degree from college.

However, anecdotal evidence does not reveal the whole story.

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Dropping out of college to pursue a career as a business owner

When we zoom out, we can see that the seductive story of the “college dropout entrepreneur” is somewhat false. Although there are some notable examples of people who dropped out of school and went on to achieve success, they are the exception rather than the rule.

We can confirm this based on the facts. There are 362 people with publicly available education records within the Forbes 400 (the 400 wealthiest people in the United States). Only 44 of them were college dropouts, which means that 12.2 percent of millionaires were. In truth, the vast majority of wealthy people have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Related: How (And Why) Should Businesses Promote Inclusive Growth?

It also doesn’t take much research to prove that education leads to better results for the typical person; on average, people with a college degree earn $630,000 to $900,000 more in their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma.

Benefits of Education

Regardless of how you look at it, education has a number of important advantages for entrepreneurs, including:


To begin with, going to school provides you with additional knowledge. Depending on where you go to school and what you study, you may obtain knowledge that will help you plan and manage your business, or you may gain a deeper understanding of your target audience. In any event, you’ll be better prepared for more circumstances and able to make better plans.

Job opportunities

Going to school might sometimes lead to more immediate work chances. Having a degree boosts your chances of being recruited, which makes it easier for you to gain more experience that you may apply to your entrepreneurship.

Perspective and exposure

Going to school broadens your horizons and, as a result, your perspective. You’ll get the opportunity to meet a wide range of people with various opinions and philosophies. This can help you think more creatively and open your mind to new thoughts if you do it all together.


Don’t overlook the significance of networking. During your time in school, you’ll have the opportunity to meet hundreds, if not thousands, of people, many of whom may be able to assist you in growing your business in the future. It’s difficult to make up for lost networking time.

Drawbacks of education

However, there are several disadvantages to acquiring more education:


If you have a brilliant business concept that you start in college and it takes off, you may miss out on the opportunity if you forsake it in favor of finishing your studies. Dropping out to work on the project full-time may be advantageous, allowing you to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


Higher education programs will almost certainly put you in debt, depending on your circumstances. Although this does not prevent you from launching a business, it can make financial management more complex.

Subjects that are irrelevant

Not all types of schooling are beneficial for entrepreneurship. A philosophy degree, for example, may not be as useful as a business degree (especially if your business has nothing to do with philosophy).

In some cases, a person may be required to drop out of college or even high school in order to pursue their goals of being a great entrepreneur. However, the benefits of education greatly outweigh the disadvantages, and obtaining more education will improve your prospects of success. Do not be persuaded otherwise by the stories of dropout entrepreneurs.

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