Dioreliz Gamboa Image Credit: Supplied

Some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world don’t have a college degree — Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, to name a few. Considering the costs of education, financially and timewise, do aspiring businesspeople really need college to prosper? Is it better to learn through experience? What do they need to get ahead? Are there other paths to success? Readers debate.

Success comes with perseverance

College education, without a doubt, adds immense value to ones’ career and business growth. However, I personally don’t think a college degree is a guaranteed tool to success when it comes to business. An entrepreneur at the helm of any business needs to be someone with sharp business acumen; someone who realises the potential of his business; someone who can galvanise the right market at the right time and someone who can advantageously raise capital for the start or growth of his business. All these attributes need not necessarily come out of a prestigious college degree. The fact that rags-to-riches stories are not so uncommon goes to show that perseverance, confidence, a sharp intellect, among other things, is the way to go. Of course, luck plays a huge part.

Maybe without a formal college education, a businessperson wouldn’t be able to sustain the growth of his business in a market that demands academic qualifications. But once the business foundations are laid, he can hire highly qualified management personnel (with a college education) to successfully run his business and stay ahead of the competition.

College education offers undeniable support that one can fall back on. With it comes the confidence and conviction to succeed in life. However, entrepreneurship is the privilege for those who dream the big dream, with or without a college education, and persevere until they achieve their goal.

From Ms Shama Mohammad
Businesswoman, based in Abu Dhabi

Climbing the entrepreneurial ladder requires comprehensive tools

Famous college dropouts who became successful entrepreneurs were lucky enough to have their unique talents utilised at the best time or generation. They also worked with teams that had parallel dreams and aspirations. But they are just the lucky few!

The majority of ordinary people require certain life-sustaining ‘spices’ to come up with the best recipe for success. The key ingredient: a college degree. Earning a degree involves both theoretical lessons and on-the-job training, which gives business people the knowledge to choose the best field of expertise or interest. That way, they know what they are good at and have a higher probability of success.

At the same time, earning a degree builds character; studying enhances one’s patience, discipline, ability to sacrifice, among other traits. Students need to bear at least four years of continuous learning; others may struggle to pay school fees, which means they have to strive harder and independently from their parents.

Entrepreneurial success doesn’t happen overnight. There are twists and turns. If a person tries his best and finds that the entrepreneurial field is not for him, he can opt for another profession. Having a degree makes that easier and offers wider choices.

A college degree is the first taste of success that not all people can achieve. Degree holders like myself gratefully consider it a point of pride that cannot be taken away. We don’t need to follow the success stories of those who made it without a degree. Each of us has different situations and capabilities. Success is subjective, and no one can label another person a failure or success. That’s up to us. We can always make our own successful path and leave a meaningful trail — whether it’s as a degree holder or a college dropout.

From Ms Crest R. Galdo
Logistics supervisor, based in Dubai

Education creates good business sense

Industries are increasing and businesses are growing fast; how can we make it to the top in a society where everyone is aggressively competing? Nowadays, we’re uncertain which qualifications are needed to become successful.

Those who dream to be successful entrepreneurs might ask themselves: ‘Is formal education still really important?’ The answer is yes. A decent educational background offers more opportunities and chances for a person to choose either to start a job or a business. Someone with a degree will always have the edge since he or she is fueled with indispensable knowledge and skills properly sharpened by education, which is a fundamental component to success.

We must bear in mind that those theories taught in universities are not just theories to be memorised but to be applied later in actual work. The principles, techniques and strategies are being relayed from generation to generation for efficiency and productivity of individuals, which contributes to society’s progress.

In this day and age, it’s easy to start a small business, but it’s hard to run it for a long period of time. Business owners might face a variety of problems and conflicts. Instead of earning, they lose money when they have to seek assistance from a consultant to guide them through difficulties. They don’t realise that they could’ve learned how to manage a business properly beforehand.

Furthermore, markets change rapidly as the modern world continuously evolves. Businesspeople have to adapt, and the only key to doing that is to be well-prepared. Suitable training from formal education is unquestionably a tremendous step towards success. We cannot afford to be left behind by committing ourselves in a belief that real world experience is better than formal education because in reality, it’s the other way around.

From Ms Dioreliz Gamboa
Administrative coordinator, based in Dubai

Practical application enhances skills more than studying theories in class

Many entrepreneurs and well-known personalities like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg achieved success through their sense of initiative and determination. As individuals, they had the ability to turn their ideas into action. When it comes to embarking on a successful business venture, a person needs creativity, attitude, innovation, tenacity and risk-taking as well as the ability to plan in order to achieve one’s objectives. It is not always necessary to have a degree. A young entrepreneur who lacks of formal education can acquire confidence through non-formal learning and real world experience.

Hopeful business people can explore other options. Vocational training and mentorships create familiarity with real world experience, which play a key role in success. In this way, young entrepreneurs can develop their skills and gain knowledge that is useful to make their start in business. Such programs will serve as guidance and motivation for self-improvement as well, without the high cost of a university program. Moreover, hands-on and practical application moulds and enhances individual skills more than studying and listening to theories in a formal class setting. It helps the individual to understand, manage, plan and learn from his mistakes in establishing a successful business.

Additionally, today’s advancement in technology with apps and online learning tools allow young entrepreneurs to access information at any time of their convenience without enrolling in formal schools. This gives them freedom to learn and work according to their schedule, without having to follow a college calendar. Likewise, formal qualifications do not always help individuals when it comes to solving day-to-day problems, rising to challenges, assessing opportunities or taking risks.

Bridging the world of business to anyone by means of experience and non-formal learning can be challenging, but it helps shape individuals who have the potential and skills for successful entrepreneurship. Not having a formal education is not an obstacle in pursuing a business goal. A young entrepreneur can still take chances and think outside the box. Experience is the best way to learn, and it is the best education for creative individuals to enhance their skills in communication, negotiation, and decision-making.

From Ms Fatima D. Viloria
Medical secretary, based in Abu Dhabi