You want to make big things happen. With ambition like yours, there’s no telling what you can do in the business world – once you have a college degree. A business degree may seem like a natural choice, but specialized studies in entrepreneurship could be an appealing option if you plan to start your own business someday. When deciding between these two degree paths, you should consider the differences between business and entrepreneurship generally as well as the curriculum and job prospects for these two programs of study.
The Distinction Between Business and Entrepreneurship
Successful entrepreneurs must be – or, through education and experience, become – good business professionals. However, not all business professionals are entrepreneurs. If that seems confusing, it might be because even experts in the field have not managed to come to an agreement on what it means to be an entrepreneur. Generally, entrepreneurship means starting your own organization, especially one based on new or innovative ideas or inventions. If you want to climb the ranks of an established business to reach a management role, you would better fit into the category of “business leader” than “entrepreneur.” Because there is a lot of overlap between business and entrepreneurship, someone who launches a company may choose to consider themselves an entrepreneur or a business leader, depending on how original their ideas are, how they approach the business and what roles they play in its development.
What does this mean when it comes to choosing your college major? You need to really understand what motivates you and what your ambitions are. If you don’t have an entrepreneurial spirit and the drive and make your own way, then merely studying entrepreneurship in college won’t be enough to make you into an entrepreneur. On the other hand, you don’t need a degree in entrepreneurship to qualify to be an entrepreneur. One of the highlights of the entrepreneurial course is that you’re the one forging the path, so , so you are the one who sets the requirements for the role.
If you realize that you are more motivated to succeed, make money or earn prestige than you are to innovate, you might not have the calling to be an entrepreneur – but you can still be a highly successful business leader and can even start your own company.
Curricula Differences for Business and Entrepreneurship Majors
Perhaps the most concrete difference between business and entrepreneurship degrees is the coursework required for both of these degree paths. When you study a conventional business major, like business administration or business management, you develop your skills in a breadth of business applications. Entrepreneurship is a more specialized path, similar to majoring in accounting or finance, yet it is often interdisciplinary in nature.
Both business majors and entrepreneurship majors need to complete fundamental core courses to learn the foundations of business. For business majors, classes in organizational behavior, risk management and international business are common. A business management degree program might focus more on management theory, and an administration program, on building experience in a specialization. In either case, students who graduate from business programs have the skills to strategically plan and carry out campaigns that include managing projects, operations and employees.
In an entrepreneurship program, the focus is narrower and the coursework more specialized to support future business founders in the task of launching, managing and growing a new business. Students might take classes on business development, management, accounting and sales and marketing, but many of their classes are focused on new and innovative business ventures. Additionally, schools with robust entrepreneurship programs might offer resources and support for students who are working towards creating a new business venture, including small business incubators, business plan competitions and professional consulting services.
Ultimately, students should weigh the costs and benefits of earning a general business degree, which offers a broader education but fewer specialized tools and resources for starting a business, versus a less versatile but more targeted entrepreneurship degree.
Job Prospects for Graduates of Business and Entrepreneurship Programs
Perhaps one of the most significant differences between earning a conventional business degree and earning an entrepreneurship degree is what to expect after college. For business majors, finding a job is more straightforward. Networking can certainly help you in in your job search, but finding a new position the old-fashioned way – by submitting an application in response to a published job opening – is still customary. While plenty of jobs give preference to candidates with a business degree, you will find very few job posts seeking graduates with an entrepreneurial degree. Part of the entrepreneurial spirit is the desire to innovate and make your own way, rather than fit into someone else’s company culture.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get a secure job, or that, if your business isn’t launched and succeeding by the time you graduate college, you’re too late. Even the most visionary business professionals still need to make a living, and many great entrepreneurial ideas are born out of experience working within the confines of an established company. Aspiring entrepreneurs have great enthusiasm, problem-solving skills and persistence, all of which are qualities that can benefit existing companies as well as new startup ventures.
If you decide to enjoy the stability of a traditional job before forging out on your own, or if you need a full-time gig to tide you over financially while getting your startup off the ground, you should look for job descriptions that most closely match the skills you have attained while earning your degree, and be prepared to explain why your unique educational background is an advantage. Some of the best jobs you can get with an entrepreneurship degree include business consultant, recruiter, sales representative, mid-level manager and research and development roles.
Management analyst, market research analyst, logistician, budget analyst, fundraiser and loan officer are just a handful of the roles you could attain with an undergraduate business degree, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).