There's a long list of insanely successful entrepreneurs who have dropped out of school--there are definite downsides to delaying the launch of your business for an advanced degree. But just about every negative belief about college for entrepreneurs does not apply to a PhD program. As a PhD candidate you are in charge of your own experience. From choosing an advisor who will challenge you and help you grow, to selecting the topic for your dissertation, this experience can be tailored to minimize your weaknesses and enhance your strengths. And anyone who has achieved this monumental goal will tell you that it opens doors that weren't even a consideration in the past.
According to Dr. Allen Roda, COO of Dissertation Editor, a rising number of entrepreneurs who want to gain the competitive edge are entering into doctoral level programs.
"Many entrepreneurs are pursuing a variety of doctoral level programs, including PhD's as well as Doctor of Business Administration or degrees in Organizational Leadership," says Roda. "These programs can help entrepreneurs develop a broader perspective of their industries and beyond."
If you're pondering an advanced degree, Roda offers these benefits to encourage you to take the leap.
Credibility and visibility
On the most basic level, a doctoral education lends credibility and clout in most fields. It provides you with credentials that certify you as an expert in your field, opening doors to many opportunities: public speaking, consulting, and developing a personal brand. Many PhD's go on to publish their dissertations as books. As a published author, with texts available for sale online, you can boost your credibility as a thought leader and increase your visibility to prospective clients.
Inspiration that leads to innovation
Being in a doctoral program can inspire you in ways that you might never have imagined. By taking on a dissertation-level project, your own imagination and thought processes will be expanded, possibly leading to insights that you can use to disrupt your industry and emerge as a leader.
An idea lab
Doctoral study can provide an environment for you to examine your current thinking more closely with fresh insights. Your doctoral project may even become an opportunity to test out an idea before scaling it into full practice. Roda cites the example of a student who published her dissertation and ended up with a multi-book contract and leveraged the prestige to launch a successful business.
Improved communication skills
Every entrepreneur needs to clearly articulate their approach to business, whether they're reaching out to investors, negotiating a contract, or inspiring employees and partners. Academic writing, and especially working closely with an editor, is an opportunity to cultivate this skill and receive feedback on your progress. This feedback is crucial to improving your work, no matter what field you're in.
Enhanced interpersonal skills
When your research is complete you must present it to a committee, which has to approve your project. Like presenting a business plan to investors, this involves making a persuasive case for your project, accepting constructive criticism, and applying that criticism to improve your output. Additionally, you will learn how to process conflicting feedback and suggestions, integrating them into a much stronger whole.
Entrepreneurs work all hours of the night and don't quit until they find answers. They are not satisfied with superficial success. Entrepreneurs test these answers, trying and failing multiple times in the search for sustainable solutions. In a graduate program, you quickly learn that getting a draft returned covered in red ink is not a failure, but an opportunity for growth. "Setbacks and unforeseen obstacles are not disasters; rather they are part of the scholarly process," says Roda. Learning to take important lessons from what others might call "failure" gives you a competitive edge in your business.
Although you work with many people (classmates, advisors, and committees) during graduate school, much of your project will be completed on your own. In order to succeed, you will have to develop your own intrinsic motivation. You will discover the strength of your own resources: personality traits, skill sets, experiences that you bring to this project. Becoming a doctoral student will help you to learn, manage, and grow yourself using the same skills needed to manage and grow your business and become a powerful leader.
Problem solving skills
In the same way that calculus and algebra develop the minds of high school and college students to think in abstractions and tackle complex concepts, doctoral level education irreversibly changes the student's capacity for thought. For researchers and entrepreneurs alike, unforeseen obstacles can lead to innovative ideas and entirely new business models. Conducting a dissertation-level research project leaves doctoral students with nimble and adaptable mindsets that enable them to work in a dynamic and constantly changing marketplace.
If you are ready to develop and enhance your presence as a thought leader, bring your personal brand to the next level, and see the world from a broader perspective, a PhD program may be your next step. Are you ready to take the plunge? Keep me posted!