Updated December 2022
You don't need an university degree to successfully manage a team or start your own business.
The world is full of incredibly successful CEOs and entrepreneurs who never attended or finished university, but still managed to build incredible empires.
Apple mastermind, Steve Jobs; legendary Vogue editor, Anna Wintour; culinary superstar, Rachel Ray (she didn't even have formal cooking training). And let's not forget billionaire founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson...these are just a few examples of brilliant business leaders who never earned business degrees.
What do all of these icons have in common? For sure, some had special connections or advantages that helped them break into their field—but each and every one had to work hard, deal with setbacks, and really struggle to achieve their goals.
Think you have what it takes to run an office, or maybe even start your own business one day? You don't necessarily need a four-year university degree to put your plan in motion.
A quality business diploma covers the basics of administration, marketing, and sales strategy, and offers a direct route to entry-level employment. From there, your talent and hard work will open up doors to promotion and entrepreneurship.
So which path would you choose? Would you perform better as a supervisor/manager—or are you destined to strike out on your own, and launch your own business?
What are the main differences between running a business for someone else, and starting your own venture?
Ask yourself these five key questions and see which kind of business management career would suit you best.
HoW Is a business manager different from an entrepreneur?
Simply put, a manager is in charge of a team or a department within an established organization. They are responsible for meeting certain performance goals, but ultimately, will answer to someone above them—like the CEO or business owner. Someone higher up is making the big decisions that decide the fate of the company.
An entrepreneur, on the other hand, answers only to herself and her clients. She has to come up with product or service ideas, and figure out how to market and sell them.
Eventually, she may hire a team to help her grow the business, and she will be responsible for setting performance targets for each employee. She decides the direction of her own business and makes all the high-level decisions.
How comfortable are you with taking risks?
This is a key question to ask yourself if you're debating between a business career in management or becoming your own boss. Obviously, starting your own business means taking on risk.
How successful will you be in the first year or two? How much money will it take to get started? Can you handle the workload?
With higher risk comes the potential for big rewards—but you'll need to be honest about your willingness to take on extra risk and stress, as you get your business off the ground.
When you manage an office or team for someone else, they are the ones who take on all the risk. It all comes down to your temperament, and your long-term life goals.
Entrepreneurs must be courageous and prepared to handle uncertainty. Starting a business is inherently risky, so if you choose this path, you must be ready to take chances.
How confident are you in making decisions & solving problems on your own?
Whether you start your own business or run an office for someone else after business college, you will need strong decision-making and problem-solving skills. These characteristics are key for both roles.
But keep this in mind: if you become your own boss, there won't be anyone higher up to ask for advice or help you make major decisions. You will be running the show.
If there is an issue with your product, you will have to resolve it. When it's time to pitch your ideas, figure out how much to charge, or deal with a difficult client, you will have to work it out.
It's not that managers don't have to deal with difficult decisions or solve problems. It's just that entrepreneurs have to do it on a higher level, with more risk involved.
Some business leaders do better in a team setting, where they can collaborate with others, and aren't entirely alone in the decision-making process. Entrepreneurs must be comfortable in the driver's seat.
Both business managers and entrepreneurs need self-confidence and problem-solving skills. But entrepreneurs must be comfortable taking full responsibility for the direction of their business, without input or support from higher-ups.
How well do you bounce back from criticism & failure?
In order to rise up the ranks, and qualify for manager roles, you will absolutely need to have a thick skin. Your success in business will depend on your ability to learn from mistakes and use criticism to improve your leadership skills.
You must understand your strengths AND your weaknesses. And no matter what setbacks you face, you must bounce back with enthusiasm and perseverance, every single time.
Look at any list of key traits for business managers. You'll find positivity, endurance, and accountability on the list, every single time.
If you choose to become your own boss, you will need an even larger dose of these traits. A client isn't happy with your work? Your product doesn't sell as much as you thought it would? Your business loses money at the start?
You will need a serious amount of confidence, hard work, and sheer determination to make it as an entrepreneur. You must handle negativity with grace, take all criticism as useful, and keep striving for success no matter what obstacles come your way.
It takes real determination and positivity to make it in business management...and even more strength to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Are you naturally creative & great at coming up with new ideas?
Successful managers don't necessarily need a lot of creativity. The big bosses will decide what new products or services to launch, and it's the manager's job to lead the team in delivering those products.
Yes, it's true that supervisors and team leaders should always be coming up with ways to improve operations and run their divisions better. But in most cases, they are following guidelines and goals set by someone else—like the owner of the company or the general manager they report to.
This is an ideal situation for managers who love directing a team, but don't want the responsibility of running the entire business. They enjoy contributing ideas and solutions when they have them, but they're not in charge of the overall creative direction of the company.
This is what an entrepreneur does. Starting your own business will takes another level of creativity. You'll have to be an idea factory, solving problems and generating new ideas all the time.
Even if you launch a successful product or service, you'll need to keep tweaking and improving it over time in order to stay ahead and grow.
Think about Steve Jobs or Richard Branson. Apple and Virgin have never stopped evolving. Leaders like these are brimming with creativity and ideas...willing to try and fail and try again. They love the process of bringing a new concept to life. They are natural innovators.
This is the kind of passion you'll need to build a successful business career as an entrepreneur.
Managers need to come up with ideas, but this trait is even more crucial for entrepreneurs, who must constantly innovate to stay ahead of competitors and solve problems.
So...what's the verdict? Can you see the difference between the business management and business ownership path? Which one sounds more like you?
What's so great about the world of business, is that anyone can succeed with the right mix of talent, hard work, and self-confidence. There are so many industries to work in; so many ways to make your mark.
Getting Started with a Fast-track Business Diploma
What's your first step toward a career in management or entrepreneurship? Learn the fundamentals with a quality business diploma and then get out there and start earning real-world experience.
College business programs are ideal because they focus on career-ready skills that will get you hired quickly. They are typically well under two years in length, and offer a solid grounding in all major areas of business administration and management.
Good programs will also include a guaranteed internship, so you can gain professional experience before you even graduate—and connect with local employers. This is the fastest training option to begin your business career with a good set of skills under your belt.
The training gives you a foot in the door, and then you work up to management roles through on-the-job experience (like so many of the world's most successful business leaders and entrepreneurs).
Seriously considering a career in business administration or management? Want to start your own business one day? We'd love to hear from you.
Click below to get free information about Herzing College's Business Administration, Sales & Marketing diploma. You can also chat live with an admissions advisor and get your questions answered right now. We're here to help.