Business students are often highly ambitious, so it is no wonder that even before they get to college, some are already contemplating launching a company of their own. Entrepreneurship may sound like an exciting alternative to a traditional business degree, but students should think carefully about what they want from their education before making this choice. There are pros and cons of both degrees. While entrepreneurship has a narrower focus on the practical skills to start and grow a business, a conventional business degree will prepare you for more jobs and a more stable career path – and you can still become an entrepreneur if you want to.
More Jobs for Business Majors
When you major in business, you’ll take college-level courses in an array of business disciplines. General business students draw from accounting, finance, marketing, management, human resources, business law and ethics and other fields to develop skills in all areas of business. Students in a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree can also choose a concentration for a more specialized education. Entrepreneurship, in contrast, is an interdisciplinary major that focuses primarily on acquiring the skills and resources to get a new business running and plan for growth. While a business major might opt to take some courses in entrepreneurship, a degree in entrepreneurship will be less relevant to work within an existing organization than a general business degree.
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The focus of the degree program you choose affects more than the classes you will take in college. In general, business degrees are more marketable. The learning outcomes of this educational path are more in line with what established companies are looking for in new hires than the skills that you would develop studying entrepreneurship. As a result, you will see far more job postings for business majors than entrepreneurship majors. Having a degree in business can prepare you for roles such as budget analyst, personal financial advisor, loan officer, fundraiser, event planner, logistician and management consultant, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported.
Entrepreneurship majors can add value to established companies, too, but they might have to look harder to find roles that match their skills, rather than those that simply list a business degree as a qualification. Once an entrepreneurship major finds a posted job that meets their abilities, they will need to sell their degree to prospective employers in ways a general business major would not.
Courses in entrepreneurship might include principles or foundations of entrepreneurship, small business finance, funding generation, small business management, law for entrepreneurs and a practicum or internship experience.
Preparation for a Simpler Professional Life
There’s no question that self-employment is a riskier and less stable professional path. When you join an existing company, you work within that company’s established structure. That structure can seem confining or full of opportunity for growth, but it offers some stability that you don’t have – yet – when starting a business of your own.
There are many benefits of self-employment, but there are also drawbacks. While you have the freedom to run your business as you see fit and to earn as much money as your business is able to provide – rather than being limited to a salary determined by someone else – you miss out on traditional benefits such as paid time off and employer-sponsored health insurance and retirement savings, the BLS reported. Your income may be less predictable than it would be in most conventional careers, and getting all of your work done may require long hours (with no overtime pay). For millions of Americans, the benefits of self-employment outweigh the risks, but if you don’t want to venture too far out of your professional comfort zone, entrepreneurship might bring you more stress than job satisfaction.
As of its most recent count in 2016, the BLS identified 9.6 million American workers as self-employed. The number of self-employed workers is expected to grow by a slightly higher percentage than the predicted rate of job growth across all occupations.
Entrepreneurship Is a Mindset, Not an Academic Discipline
What if you really do want to start your own business? The specialized nature of an entrepreneurship degree can be beneficial if you are ready to hit the ground running, but it certainly isn’t essential. There is no one academic field that qualifies you to become an entrepreneur. The concepts and practices you learn in a general business program can also help you succeed in launching a startup. If you already have a business idea and you just need the skills to make it happen, entrepreneurship may be a great choice. However, if you need to learn more about the business world in general and how established businesses operate before you can fully develop your plans for your own company, a business degree could be the best place to start.
Depending on what your business idea is, you might be better off choosing a relevant major such as engineering, biology or computer science and double-majoring or minoring in business or entrepreneurship.