Serial entrepreneur Peter Burns has started countless businesses over the years, providing him with the kind of entrepreneurship education he could never have gotten in a traditional business school. Yet, he knew there was a better way.
So almost a decade ago, Burns proposed to Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona that he start teaching an entrepreneurship class. The concept took off, leading Burns to spearhead an effort to create the first accredited College of Entrepreneurship at nearby Grand Canyon University. Since then, Burns has guided several other schools along that path, including Andrew Jackson University and Southern States University, utilizing his Institute for Entrepreneurship concept.
“There is no substitute for experiencing the trials and tribulations of starting a business,” said Burns, who recently launched a business called B3 Funding Partners, which matches small and medium-sized businesses with an alternative funding network. “But some of that pain and heartache can be eliminated if the would-be entrepreneur participates in a well-thought out entrepreneurship class.”
Chris Shonk, who graduated seven years ago from the Acton School of Business, a MBA in Entrepreneurship program based in Austin, Texas, agreed.
“Just about any business degree should give you the fundamental strategic and classical business tools that an aspiring executive should require,” said Shonk, whose Liahona Ventures funds and takes a hands-on approach in terms of supporting entrepreneurs. “However, an entrepreneurship degree will couple the strategic tools with tactical tools necessary for successful implementation.”
An Entrepreneurship Degree Gives you a Leg Up
“Having an entrepreneurship degree puts the odds in your favor if you want to launch a business from scratch,” Shonk added. “One can find success without such a degree, but It would take longer, cost more, and the probability of success would be much lower.”
John Blue Hillman, co-founder of Fort Worth, Texas-based Charity Payment Solutions, agrees with Shonk.
“Having a degree in Finance with an emphasis in entrepreneurship has helped me tremendously in my business endeavors,” he said. “I find myself being able to instinctively think within and outside the box to discover opportunities and feasible solutions to help with social concerns within our communities and world. I do think each person is given a unique DNA, and are more intuitive in their entrepreneurial spirit. However, choosing higher education in entrepreneurial studies helped me gain the confidence to see things in a different way and reinforce good business strategy and analysis. Not to mention, it is a great place to build many like-minded friendships that you can turn to, to help you have the courage to step out and make something happen.”
Shonk concluded: “A business degree gives you a map and compass, but those may prove more valuable with the skills of navigation, afforded by experience. An entrepreneurship degree is the most formidable surrogate for direct experience that academia can provide.”