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Why It's Okay to Skip Grad School and Start Your Own Business

Deborah Sweeney
Deborah Sweeney

More and more college grads are packing up their textbooks and dorm furniture and heading to grad school.

For some occupations (lawyer, doctor, etc.) going to grad school after an undergraduate education is more than necessary, but how necessary is it for entrepreneurs?

Here are four reasons why an undergraduate education is the perfect amount of education to have under your belt before becoming an entrepreneur.

Related Article: Reality Bites: Tips For New Grads Breaking Into The Real World

You'll Need the Money You Would Have Spent on Grad School

According to Poets & Quants the average cost of tuition for a top ranked business school was $102,355 in 2012. That’s not including the cost of books, housing, school supplies, and other school necessities.  

Grad school is a lot of money, but you know what else is a lot of money? Starting a business.

Whether you have the money, you’re getting some familial help or you’re taking school loans, you’re about to need to use that money to get your business off the ground. It is very rare that a business get its start without a huge loan. After all, it takes money to make money. Take the money and family favors that you would have used for grad school and completely apply them to your new business.

If you know you’re going to start a business of your own eventually, you won’t want to start that business already enormously in debt thanks to grad school. Additionally, getting a loan is a big part of starting a business, and a decent loan much trickier to attain when you have loads of unpaid debt attached to your name.

Experts Say You Don't Need the Extra Schooling

Tom Castelloe, has launched several businesses and earned an MBA. But Castelloe says, “Start the business first. Jump in the water and try to swim.” In addition, Stephen Greer, who describes pre-business education as “the school of Hard Knocks, whose official colors are black and blue.” Greer is an entrepreneur who founded and sold a $250 million scrap metal recycling company.

Henry Mintzberg, Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at McGill University, thinks the entire notion of graduate business education needs reform: “Not only do MBA programs teach an insufficient style of management, but they also fall short in discussion of ethics." 

Though the general consensus is that grad school is overpriced and in need of reform, there has been some notable mention of smaller entrepreneur programs worth the brief amount of time and lower cost of money.

For example, The Tarkenton Certificate in Entrepreneurship is a brief, 100 hours of video lectures that cover the basics of owning and running a business. A good solution for someone who wants a greater understanding of how to run a business, but doesn’t want to pay the price of grad school.      

Related Article: The Value of a Degree: Why Silicon Valley Startups Need More MBAs

Take the Time to Gain Experience

Education truly is priceless; through our school systems we learn our dislikes and likes, how to work with other people, and how to prioritize and organize. Though, after four years of college education, experience in your desired field is the next step in gaining the knowledge necessary to run a business.

It’s even better if you can intern or shadow an entrepreneur in college or after graduation if you have not had the opportunity. Learning about business and running a business are two completely different things. Take the time to ask questions, get your hands dirty and really learn on the job fulfilling someone else’s entrepreneurial dream.

At the very least, ask a successful entrepreneur to coffee to pick their brain. Successful business owners love to talk about how they achieved their success. Capitalize on that knowledge. And remember, don’t just ask them what they did correctly to get to the top, ask them in which ways they failed. Experience is the best teacher, but a personal account from someone you look up to is a close second.  

Related Article: Starting a Business: The 20 Most Inspiring Words of Advice

Sooner is Better Than Later

There will always be reasons to not do something. The longer you wait to start a business, the more those reasons will pile up. Right after you graduate college, you’re bright-eyed and tenacious. You have the education, you’ll gain the experience, it’s time to take a risk and go for it.

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. There will always be some amount of risk-taking in owning a business; the biggest risk of all is taking the first step.  


Image Credit: Prostock-Studio / Getty Images
Deborah Sweeney
Deborah Sweeney,
business.com Writer
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Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.