In a nutshell: Even for the busiest of business leaders, a college or postgraduate degree is in reach. Here are some advantages, a look at online education and some work-school-life balance tips.

When facing the challenges of running a business, many entrepreneurs feel there is little time to focus on earning a college or postgraduate degree, no matter how much they want to do so.

However, it’s an idea worth considering. The return on investment in education is high.  That’s primarily because the knowledge and skills offered through a quality degree program simply make you a better business leader.

The following looks at some of the questions most entrepreneurs and senior leaders go through when considering taking the time to earn or finish a degree. We start with the most important question.

Why Should You Earn A College Degree?

Many entrepreneurs go to school because they are experiencing difficult challenges navigating the business world and want the expertise in business that a degree offers. However, even those that are having success will find that earning a degree can make you a better entrepreneur.

Many point the success of people such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg as examples of successful entrepreneurs who famously did not earn college degrees. But they are outliers.

A decade ago, the Kauffman Foundation laid to rest the myth of the renegade college dropout path leading to entrepreneurial success. They reported that  90% of all entrepreneurs have at least a bachelor’s degree. They also showed that those in their 50s are twice as likely to start a new tech company as those in their 20s, and that they don’t come from “elite” schools but from colleges across the country.

More recently, a CNBC survey found that 75 percent of business owners had an associate’s degree, some college, a bachelor’s degree, or a postgraduate degree. It’s interesting to note, however, that the article around the survey focused on those who didn’t attend college, connecting them with Zuckerberg.

What Are The Advantages In Going to College?

There are many advantages. They would include issues such as the following.

  • Latest strategies: College courses can open your eyes to new business strategies you didn’t know existed.
  • Latest technology: Unless you spend a lot of time doing research on your own, you won’t know all the latest ways to apply innovations in areas such as data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to your business.
  • Networking: College classes, even those online, provide the chance to meet and get to know likeminded people who could become an important part of your network down the road
  • Diversity: Everyone can fall into the trap of seeing the same people every day, day after day, for years. College courses introduce you to people from diverse backgrounds, an important asset in today’s global marketplace.

Will I Have Time To Go To College?

Even for busy small business leaders, there’s time to attend school. But you must make the commitment.

As noted in Inc., being busy is not a sign of being productive. Time management is a skill everyone can benefit from, including entrepreneurs. Multitasking and overscheduling yourself leads to days of perpetually running behind. Making reasonable to-do lists for each day, tracking your time, and creating sane schedules all can support better time management.

Should I Earn My Degree Online?

Given the time issues mentioned above, online education is an option worth considering. By their very nature, online classes offer students flexibility in when and where they attend classes, do coursework, and interact with other students and professors. It’s also a time saver not having to drive to and from campus.

That said, some students want a more structured, traditional environment. The bottom line is that you must consider the choices and do what is best for you. Before deciding, consider issues such as time and flexibility, social interaction (online provides more than you might think) and geography.

Are There Ways To Find Better Balance Work/Life Balance?

There are ways to improve your work/life balance, and perhaps find time to reach your educational goals. Some areas to keep in mind include:

Realistic expectations: This is really the key. Most people find they have no time and do not achieve what they really want to achieve because they have overwhelmed themselves with unrealistic goals. Take the time to sit down, plan out your goals, and ensure they are realistic. This applies to everything, including how you manage your business.

One central calendar: You’re one person, so why different calendars for work, personal, and education? Plan out each day, week and month by considering everything you want to accomplish. Keep it realistic and keep it on one central calendar.

Stay flexible: Most people think about rigid control and a set system when they think of leaders, from CEOs and generals to sport coaches. But a closer look at most successful entrepreneurs shows they have built in room for flexibility, because anything can (and will) happen. You cannot foresee these events. It’s wise to maintain a willingness to change course, if needed.

These are some of the issues facing entrepreneurs who are considering pursuing higher education. The positives tend to outweigh the negatives for most people. But take the time to assess your situation and make a decision that works best for not only the future of your business, but your personal satisfaction and happiness.

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