In a nutshell: Supplement your entrepreneurial skills with these undergraduate- or graduate-level classes — including ones in business and liberal arts.
You worked hard for your business degree. You learned a lot about the latest business strategies. You’ve become adept at using the technological tools that drive decision-making in the modern business world. You’re justifiably proud of your accomplishment.
But is there more to learn? Yes, there’s always more to learn. That’s a very good thing.
For younger workers entering the business world, taking additional courses to augment and enhance their formal education can prove a smart choice. This is especially true for entrepreneurs, who often find themselves needing skills that go beyond what is taught in business school.
In the case of entrepreneurial education, more is better.
So, what are some areas worthy of focus? Consider the following. Some relate directly to managing a business. Others offer a perspective-widening experience that can help entrepreneurs stay on the path to success.
Accounting and Finance
Don’t know the numbers as well as you should? That’s trouble for an entrepreneur, both small business owners and those with larger ambitions.
There’s the entire world of financial investment, predictive analytics (which drives many investment decisions today), risk assessment and the value of time in relation to money. And knowing proper accounting procedures can be an immense help when tax season rolls around, as well as in keeping the books in balance month-to-month.
Enrolling in a finance or accounting course can give an entrepreneur foundational knowledge in handling these key areas of business.
Marketing is an ever-evolving area. If your business is going to have an online presence — and it should — then learning about digital marketing strategies is essential. This ranges from website design and search engine optimization to personalized content marketing and buying ads on search engines. There also is a whole new world of marketing that is focused on leveraging relationships with people via social media to attract long-term, loyal customers.
You can build a great business, but it’s not going to succeed if no one knows about it. Learning the basics of marketing is a huge step in the right direction for getting your brand, product and services the attention they need.
Leadership and Communication
Do you know the latest techniques on properly managing workers? Changes in how a new generation of workers approach the work-life balance has led to changes in leadership and management styles. However, core issues will always remain the same and are worth learning, including communication, transparency, respect, great listening skills and conflict resolution.
Of those, communication is often the most important. Ineffective communication has doomed many entrepreneurs. Good listening skills coupled with an ability to clearly and concisely convey your thinking to others are skills especially worth taking a class to learn. They will repay the investment in time and money many times over.
Leaders also need a clear vision of where the company is and where they want it to go. Watching Steve Jobs videos on YouTube is fun and even informative, but classes can help entrepreneurs truly focus on leadership and communication issues.
How does a business fit into the overall economy? The difference between macro- and microeconomics, as well as an overview of how sectors of the free market interlock, is important for understanding how to run a business. Economics courses typically give you the details on the production, distribution, and consumption of products and services. They also will give you an understanding of how government policies can shape economies and directly affect your business.
Not all classes that help business people are rooted in the mechanics of business itself. Sociology classes can open you up to understanding how societies function, and how different sub-groups respond to change. This can prove key to understanding how different sections of society might perceive your product or service and give you great insight into identifying potential customers.
This ties in especially well with marketing. Some companies have psychologists onboard, at least in consulting roles, to help them understand how people think, what motivates them and why they buy into ideas (and purchase products and services). No successful political campaign would be caught without some good psychological underpinning to the candidate’s message — it’s wise to take the same approach to both marketing and designing products and services in your business. As Darren Kaplan, co-founder and CEO of the analytics firm HiQ, told Entrepreneur, “When you understand human behavior, you improve your chances of making your business succeed.”
Liberal arts and business seem like oil and water, but they are not. Studies have shown liberal arts majors often go on to become successful leaders, which is exactly what an entrepreneur wants.
English courses that can improve writing, reading comprehension and interpretation and overall communication skills are excellent choices. So are political science, math and foreign languages classes — all of which can improve your effectiveness as an entrepreneur.
Business is just as multifaceted, complicated, frustrating and rewarding as life itself. Taking the time to enroll in classes and explore the above areas makes you a more well-rounded person —and a better entrepreneur.