With the rising costs of college tuition, and the fact that you don't have to have a degree to be an entrepreneur, do you really need to go to school? After all, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Walt Disney were all successful despite dropping out of college.
Heck. Tumblr founder David Karp dropped out of high school at 14, and he's doing pretty well for himself.
The thing is, those are some of the more famous exceptions. In reality, college is still very useful for your future entrepreneurial efforts as well as helping you figure out what you want to be in the future. Most of the founders we all know met their co-founders in college and then started their impressive businesses.
Whether you're attending college full time or just looking to pick up a course here or there, here are the classes to take if you want to become an entrepreneur.
1. Finance and accounting
As a business owner of a hosting company that has a lot of transactions, there are two responsibilities I have that I originally was not concerned with: balancing a budget and paying taxes. Both are equally important to your business and, if not handled properly, will potentially spell doom for your startup.
Taking a finance or accounting class will give you a basic understanding of what to do during tax season and how to manage cash flow. More specifically, a finance class will teach you about the time value of money, the tradeoff between risk and return, dividend policy decisions, security market efficiency, and the optimal capital structure.
An accounting class will help you understand the health of your business by revealing the company's assets, liabilities, and owner's equity--which is done through a balance sheet. Furthermore, you can learn concepts involving cash flow and inventory, both of which will influence the success of your business.
As an entrepreneur, you'll be heavily involved with marketing. Whether it's selling your idea or product to investors or customers, a background in this area is extremely beneficial. With a marketing class, you'll gain insights by conducting research into how to develop products that people want or need. You'll also learn how to develop a marketing campaign and how to engage your audience.
After taking a marketing class, you'll know that it's more important to find your market first, instead of wasting valuable resources in creating a product that no wants to support.
Another business-related class that you should be taking is economics. An economics class will give you a basic understanding of production, distribution, and consumption of goods or services. Economics will also inform you on government policies affecting your business and how you can function in the global market. Also, you'll learn the difference between microeconomics and macroeconomics.
A trait that entrepreneurs must possess is the ability to rally the troops. But what if that's not in your nature? You could actually learn the techniques of being an effective and efficient leader by taking a management class.
A management class can teach you to properly communicate with team members when delivering criticism or delegating tasks, how to motivate your team, how to make your team collaborate with one another, and how to properly budget your company's finances.
5. Public speaking
Getting in front of people and making a sales pitch is one of the most nerve-racking experiences in my life. Which is why a public speaking course can come in handy. It will teach you how to deliver concise information in an allotted amount of time, how to make an argument, and how to practice your presentation. You'll also learn how to articulate your voice and handle your body language. While there have been arguments that a public speaking class is a waste of money, it still provides an opportunity for you to practice getting in front of a crowd and to gain awareness of certain unflattering traits. For example, I was never aware of how softly I spoke until I watched a video of one my presentations during a public-speaking class.
6. Writing and composition
Even if you're a decent writer, this is still an area in which you can improve. And if you're not a strong writer, then this is a class that you need to take.
Entrepreneurs will do their fair share of writing throughout their career. Whether you're composing a business plan, writing a press release, blogging, or pitching your idea to investors, your grammar skills will be put to the test. A writing and composition class will help you communicate your ideas clearly and give you fundamentals in executing proper writing skills.
7. Computer science
Even if you're not involved in the tech industry, there's a very good possibility that you're still going to have to rely on technology to market and run your business. It's definitely worth the time to learn concepts such as computer coding, how computers work, how software works, how to secure your system, how to compress digital media, and how the internet works.
8. Any American history course
I know. The thought of a taking a history class sounds dreadful. However, history is one of the most valuable courses that you could take. For example, you could learn about the mistakes that past historical figures have made--why is Thomas Edison more well known then Nikola Tesla? However, you can also learn how certain inventions and entrepreneurs changed the world. One of my all-time favorite classes was on the Gilded Age, which was an era full of wealth and industrialization.
Finally, there's the probability that you will have to write a research paper. This is a great skill that you can use whenever you're writing a blog post or conducting research, since you'll discover the different types of resources, which resources are reliable, and how to cite your sources correctly.
College can and will be a great asset to you and your company. It's also something that will help you in the future if your startup doesn't go as planned.
What other classes have you taken in college that have helped you in your entrepreneurial adventures?