Let’s face it—when you have a job you like, found it fairly quickly, and it falls in line with what you studied in school, the “real world” really isn’t that bad. Now, I’m going to take a risk here and say that this type of “luck” was more common 30 years ago. As a recent graduate myself, I know how difficult it can be to decide what to study and how to get there. Even worse, I know a lot of people who went through four or five years of school only to find that what they studied really isn’t what they want to do for the rest of their lives. For most, going back to school and paying tuition for another two or three years simply isn’t an option. Fortunately, this is no reason to be discouraged if you are thinking of becoming the CEO of your own company without the degree.
Having a degree in business management or entrepreneurship is only a small part of being successful, so if you have a great idea but assumed you didn’t have what it takes because of your degree, then think again. Consider Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Records), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Ralph Lauren, Steve Jobs (Apple Inc), and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) have in common. All of these men are college drop-outs, and I don’t need to tell you that they still found success.
Now, if you have the means to get an education, by all means, get one. Education is one aspect of business that should not be sacrificed. The more tools you have to get you started the better. However, this article is for those who find themselves with a family to feed, those who are still paying off past debts, or those who went to school for something they don’t love; however have the drive, the smarts, and the idea to make them millions.
You Know You Have What It Takes—Now Convince the Rest of the Corporate World
- Start off slow by getting involved in the social media scene.
There are hundreds and hundreds of business blogs and business professionals present on networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If you have a lot of great ideas about starting a business, start blogging them. This will allow others to comment on your ideas and tell you whether or not you are on the right track. Even better, you will likely meet a lot of professionals already in the field who will be able to give you advice. If you can make a presence on many of these social networking scenes by commenting and tweeting others article, you will become more known. Hopefully, all of your efforts will lead you to a lot of LinkedIn connections and a lot of Twitter followers. In the future, this may help you when you’re talking with investors or other potential partnership companies. After all, if you have 3,000 people following you on Twitter, you probably know what you’re talking about.
- Find a job or an internship in the field you are interested in and ask questions.
Finding a job in a reputable company will be difficult without a college education, so be prepared to start low on the ladder or accept a position as an intern. However, make it known in your interview that you are looking to move up in the company. If you can show motivation and passion about a business and work hard each day, you could go a long way. However, if you do not find yourself in a high position, don’t sweat it—you’re going to start your own company, remember? This experience should teach you how a company runs. Make sure you ask a lot of questions and take good notes.
- Attend any seminars or conferences you can.
If there is a company you’re interested in or a successful business professional speaking in your town, definitely make the trip. Seminars are great places to network as well as hear from some of the best. In many cases you will learn the same valuable lessons that any professor at a University could teach you. Make sure you stay involved in the conversations and once again, take good notes.
Overall, networking (and of course a good idea) is the key to success if you lack the formal business education. If you can create relationships with those currently in the field, you will then have a resource to help you just as a college professor would be to others. In the end, if you have the motivation and passion to spend your time writing and reading business blogs and attending seminars, then don’t second guess yourself—you have what it takes.
Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to document scanning. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including document software to small businesses and entrepreneurs at Business.com.