The Role of Education in Entrepreneurship and Business


The correlation between entrepreneurship, education and business is a subject that has been debated for a long time. A central point in this discussion is the extent to which education changes the performance of entrepreneurs and how it shapes business operations. With over 2,000 higher learning institutions providing business education in America, it is clear that formal training is a big part of the industry. Various studies have tried to find out the effect that formal education has on aspiring entrepreneurs, and the results have been inconclusive at best. It’s difficult to say for certain that an entrepreneur who has had formal education will perform better than one who hasn’t had it. However, the benefits of education on the business sector cannot be ignored. This piece explores the different roles that education plays in the life of entrepreneurs and their businesses. 

The Evolution of Business Education

Training in business dates back to 1881 when Wharton Business School began offering undergraduate courses in the field. The first master’s degree was from Tuck Business School (Dartmouth College). In its early stages, business education focused on economics, law, and political science. The curriculum for business training started evolving in the period around WWII when students enjoyed comprehensive programs. Case method teaching also came about during this time. It is one of the most effective entrepreneurial training approaches. Case method learning allows students to work with real-world instances where they can analyze the different challenges that businesses and their owners face. Undergraduate and graduate programs grew in demand over time. By the 1980s, business students made up 25% of all undergraduates. 

The MBA (Masters in Business Administration) became popular in the 1960s and remains one of the most sought-after programs for business training. The number of students graduating with MBAs in the 1980s was around 70,000. The MBA is designed to nurture business management skills that people can use to run companies successfully. Universities and colleges offer MBA programs to improve the qualification and earning power of graduates. Some industry players argue that an MBA prepares a person for the corporate environment and may not apply very well to small businesses. However, it’s a matter of how one chooses to use the training. In the right setting, the skills acquired from an MBA program can influence the performance of an entrepreneur.

What Education Teaches About Business

Business education constitutes a collection of courses that are structured to teach students various skills. They aim to prepare individuals for the world of business and everything that comes with it. The courses range from the most basic such as computer lessons to the most advanced like business administration. Learning institutions craft curricula that correspond to specific programs. Hult International Business School, for example, has several business programs for students of different levels. Besides the traditional undergraduate and master’s degrees, the school offers executive education, such as executive MBAs and global executive MBAs for various professionals. Some of the skills that entrepreneurial education teaches include those mentioned below.

Critical Thinking

Any good entrepreneur must be capable of dissecting situations analytically. The world of business has its complexities, and any decent entrepreneur must be qualified to deal with them. Formal education might not teach every aspect of critical thinking, but it sets the foundation for it. Students can learn how to approach different circumstances critically and find the best solutions.


Management skills are critical for any entrepreneur. The ability to run a business requires one to know how to manage teams effectively. An entrepreneur also has to deal with suppliers, customers and cash flow management. All these aspects require the ability to juggle and prioritize.

Communication Skills

Although for some people good communication skills are innate, others learn them through formal training. An entrepreneur must be able to interact with different people in the business world. Business training teaches elements such as body language, articulation and presentation, which all shape the engagement between people.


A business is made by different people contributing their expertise towards a common objective. One person may be behind the creative ideas, but it takes a team to implement them, and that is an aspect that business training can teach.

How to get it Right

Business education can help entrepreneurs if it is approached from the right perspective. A majority of the courses available to aspiring entrepreneurs are generic. Two programs from different colleges can have an almost identical curriculum, and that is where most of the arguments against formal entrepreneurial training come from. Niche training is one of the best ways that the education sector can make business courses more relevant to entrepreneurs. Take the tech industry, for instance. Students can specialize in medical, financial or agricultural tech, among others. Entrepreneurs should be offered the chance to learn about a specific areas.

Entrepreneurship thrives on experiential learning, no doubt about it, but formal business education has a considerable part to play as well. Business programs include elements that teach vital skills. With the right education, aspiring entrepreneurs can receive the preparation they need to deal with the world of business.

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