Entrepreneurship

Can Startup Founders Benefit From a Business Education?

“Education” and “startup founders” may seem like polar opposites. But founders can learn more than you might think from traditional education elements like lectures and community.

It’s a great time to be in India’s startup world. It seems like every week we hear about the next unicorn that’s received a huge round of funding. Startups are responsible for some of the most important developments in technology that benefit healthcare, communications, and commerce.

Business education is a topic you might not hear about much when startups are discussed. And while it’s certainly not necessary to pursue a formal education to launch and grow a company successfully, there is a reason many of India’s top startup founders have traditional schooling.

Whether you’re a working founder or still planning to launch your venture, we’d like to present a few reasons business education could be worth your time. And to be fair, we’ll offer up a few downsides.

Practical benefits of a business education

Education may not seem like something that makes sense for aspiring startup founders. But the best education programs available will provide you with many different benefits you can apply directly in your day-to-day work.

Building know-how from experienced founders

You might have heard of a popular concept in medicine and scientific research: the idea of “standing on the shoulders of giants.” The expression holds true in the startup world as well. Successful founders understand the importance of things achieved before them.

It’s much easier to learn lessons from the past when you can actually interact with other founders that are further along in the journey, the way you can in a business education. Many of your instructors and colleagues will be happy to share both specific insights and general knowledge that can help you with all phases of creating and launching a company. In the right business course, the condensed knowledge available from all the experienced operators involved can be invaluable to your professional growth.

Finding advice on common challenges

Is there a specific component of startups that worries you? Perhaps you are struggling to hire the right kind of people, or maybe your team has gotten bogged down in the product ideation and feedback phase. No matter how difficult the challenges you’re facing may seem in the moment, it’s likely that someone has experienced and successfully solved them. Even startups that are highly technical and specialized have some of the same critical hurdles and setbacks as businesses in more common industries.

With the benefit of a startup business community, you’ll be able to tap into the combined resources and knowledge of people that have been in a similar place. They’ll be able to empathize with you about the challenges of growing a business – but more importantly, they’ll also be able to provide tangible solutions that have been shown successful in the real world.

Access to broader people and perspectives

Many entrepreneurs and successful business operators are creatures of habit. They tend to get into a routine that can provide stability for the unique challenges they face during the day-to-day tasks involved in growing a business. Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, a routine can quickly turn into an echo chamber, especially if you are only looking internally for advice or insights.

A business education community allows you to interact and share ideas with people beyond your company or even your geographic area. You’ll have discussions with people from various backgrounds and upbringings, who may be able to provide some opinions and concepts that you might not have thought of on your own. Entrepreneurship is something that ties people together, no matter how different they may be outside of their professional pursuits. With the right business education, you can add some diversity to your thought process, which will make you more creative at solving challenges.

Leveraging the community

Life as a startup founder or operator can feel a bit lonely. Even if you have a large team around you, at the end of the day you are the one that bears ultimate responsibility for the success or failure of the business. It’s easy to feel like you don’t have a place to get advice or opinions from people who have been in a similar situation.

That’s where the benefits of being part of a business education community can start to fill in the gaps. As mentioned, the instructors, guests, and other students participating in your cohort will likely have a good amount of previous experience with the same things you’re working on.

Not only will your community be a great source of insights, they can also help you with things like:

  • Crowdsourcing opinions on new design elements like logos and colors
  • Locating potential employees or partners with similar interests and complementary skills
  • Recommending other good communities, forums or groups where you can gain additional knowledge

Building your brand

A final point to consider is that a business education course likely includes people you will see or interact with at some point in the future. Whether they end up working with you, offering you a new gig, or even just becoming a trusted source to exchange ideas with, there’s a good chance you’ll cross paths sooner or later.

Getting yourself established in a community centered around education will help distinguish you as someone people want to be involved with. By asking the right questions, making valuable contributions to community discussions, and going out of your way to help people whenever possible, you’ll create a strong brand for yourself that will carry over to any future ventures or business opportunities you may come across.

Are there any cons from a business education?

Only discussing the benefits of a business education doesn’t offer a balanced picture for those who aren’t sure it’s right for them. There are drawbacks to pursuing a business education to consider as well:

Time investment

Most business education courses – especially traditional ones – will require anywhere from 8 months to several years to finish. This might seem like a lot of time to invest, especially for someone with an entrepreneurial mindset who doesn’t like waiting.

The good news is there are many modern education options that are designed to be completed in a shorter timeframe and/or built for those who are still working. Stoa School’s 24-week program is designed to distill as much learning and community engagement as possible into the shortest amount of time.

Lack of clarity

If you aren’t sure why specifically you could benefit from a business education, it may not feel like the best use of your resources. Coming into a business course without a distinct plan for how you will use and apply the knowledge isn’t always the best recipe for success.

However, there’s another side to this potential drawback: if you are trying to decide between a few different options, or are looking to validate an idea that you aren’t sure about, a business education program can be a smart way to finalize your chosen career path – or pivot to a new one.

Cost

Arguably the biggest concern for those considering a business education program is the financial investment. Instead of spending around ₹2.5 lakh on education, why not invest that money into launching a company?

For some people, using the money to launch their business idea might make sense. But if you think about that ₹2.5 lakh figure as an investment that will compound in the long term by helping you avoid costly mistakes, you might be much better off choosing a business education course.

Last word on business education for startup founders

Only you can decide for sure whether a business education program makes sense for your professional goals and current life situation. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution that will ensure you become a successful founder. However, we encourage you to view business education as more than just a series of classes that lead to a certificate. Effective business courses will help you broaden your entrepreneurial perspective, enhance your personal brand, and establish a powerful network of fellow founders who can provide practical insights and advice.

By 
Raj Kunkolienkar
December 7, 2021

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