It’s apparent by the example set by several billionaire entrepreneurs of our time that success doesn’t necessarily come from a degree behind your name or even experience or business acumen. Many skills required to run a business are not learnt at business school, but out in the field, first-hand, through experience and failure.
UK billionaire Richard Branson’s story is well-known – an under-performer at school, he sells records from a church, has no higher education or business training and becomes a business game changer and global icon. Then there are the ‘car boot entrepreneurs’ like America fashion mogul Steve Madden, who knew less than zero about fashion, had no business experience, but undeterred started out selling shoes.
Starting a business while studying
Many entrepreneurs start their own businesses while studying and for some, their businesses become so successful they drop out to work full-time. If you have an Apple device, you probably know about the iFix repair stores (recently rebranded as weFix). A brainchild of Stellenbosch University student Alex Fourie, he launched this business in 2007 from his room on campus. In 2014 Forbes magazine named him one of the 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa and today, there are over 30 stores in South Africa.
A shift in how we learn
The ease with which information, knowledge and education can be accessed, as and when needed, is changing the landscape of learning. Globally there’s a move away from traditional three- or four-year university degrees to online learning. A 2015 survey Online Report Card – Tracking Online Education in the United States, found that 5.8 million students (that’s one in four students) take at least one online course. The survey also found that 71.4% of leading academics deem the learning outcomes of online education as the same, or superior to those of face‐to‐face instruction.
If you’re employed, you’re probably feeling the worldwide affliction that your salary and disposable income are never enough. Studying part-time could help you branch into another direction that could earn you additional income.
For those already running their own businesses and wishing to upskill or perhaps move their offering into a new direction, online study is an affordable and appealing option. It offers great flexibility, as learning can be done in your own time and pace alongside running your business. If you want to study something niche, you’re most likely to find it as an online course.
A world of learning at your fingertips
Online learning options are many, both paid-for and free. There’s Damelin’s short courses and diplomas, business qualifications from the Business Management Training College, and Get Smarter, a great portal especially geared towards working professionals with its portfolio of certified, online short courses from the best universities in the world.
Maybe you’ve always been tempted to play the stock market but felt daunted? There’s free online training available to anyone with an interest in trading – no experience or degrees necessary. Uprise Markets has a user-friendly platform with live training, online modules and videos, or you can go in-store for face-to-face training. You’ll earn your ‘trading legs’ by practising with ‘fake money’ and a demo account until you’re as confident as the Wolf of Wall Street and can go onto a live account.
Or, if it’s a DIY MBA you’re after (usually by reading tomes on the subject), you’ll find course outlines and all the information to do so online. There are also several online MBA study options.
And how about making some extra money while you work? If you’re trained and knowledgeable in a particular field, you could learn to create an online course for purchase or become an instructor.
So whether you put off studying to launch your business or you’ve found a new direction to pursue, your future success, in entrepreneurship or personally, could lie in online learning.