How to become an entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs work in just about all segments of the career market, organizing and directing the operations of their own businesses. Most entrepreneurs run fairly small companies, but that doesn't mean that the work is easy. It's often the case that small business owners have to serve as CEO, operations manager and accountant while also answering phone calls, managing inventory and filing all important paperwork on time.
If you're wondering how to become an entrepreneur, read on -- we'll give you an idea of what they do on an average day and introduce you to entrepreneur degree programs that can teach you how to build and run your own business.
The specific responsibilities of working entrepreneurs tend to depend on the type of company that they run, but here's a quick list of general duties that many business owners have in common:
- Establishing goals, policies and procedures for the organization
- Managing the financial, logistical and regulatory aspects of the business
- Negotiating and signing contracts or business-to-business agreements
- Developing and implementing advertising campaigns and other marketing strategies
- Hiring, training and supervising employees
As it's possible to start a business in nearly every industry, entrepreneurs can work in a wide variety of occupational settings. Thanks to the wide range of responsibilities they may have, many business owners end up in less of a strictly office-bound environment than managers employed by larger companies.
How to become an entrepreneur
While there are no official education or experience requirements for starting a company, many of today's entrepreneurs develop their business skills in college before diving in. Here's a rundown of one common path to entrepreneurship:
- Earn a high school diploma or equivalent. The vast majority of accredited college programs require that applicants have completed their secondary-level education before they can enroll.
- Complete a bachelor's degree program. Most entrepreneurs study business administration, marketing, management and other similar subjects, but some -- particularly chefs and restaurateurs -- may focus on their passion in school and aim to learn the business side of things while on the job.
- Earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. It's possible to start a successful company without an MBA, but the knowledge, guidance and business connections available in such programs make them a popular choice.
Some colleges and universities offer dedicated entrepreneur degree programs that focus on the specific challenges and opportunities of small business ownership. Take a look at this quick list of subjects that aspiring entrepreneurs are likely to study in college:
- Business administration
- Organizational ethics
- Business law
Some entrepreneur degree programs may permit students to specialize in one or more aspects of business study, such as international business, logistics management or operations management. Learn more about the top degree programs for entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneur skills and qualities
According to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), many successful entrepreneurs share a similar slate of skills and abilities. Here are a few of the most common examples:
- Active listening
- Social perceptiveness
- Problem sensitivity
- Critical thinking
- Deductive reasoning
Entrepreneur salary and career outlook
Yearly pay for entrepreneurs can vary quite a bit from one industry to another, one business to another and even one year to another. Earnings depend on yearly revenue, operating overhead, market trends and more. Here are a couple of quick facts about entrepreneur salary:
- The BLS reports a salary range between $44,000 and $208,000 per year for general management personnel
- The five top-earning metro areas for general managers are located in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and California
For an idea of what salary and job growth entrepreneurs might expect in the coming years, view the table below, which showcases general and operations manager detail compared to other types of managers:
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Mean Wage||Projected Job Growth Rate|
|General and Operations Managers||2,289,770||$123,880||9.1%|
|Managers, All Other||462,840||$115,590||7.6%|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||94,250||$57,750||30.8%|
|Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers||202,550||$71,730||10.7%|
|Training and Development Managers||35,690||$121,730||10.3%|
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed October 24, 2018: Top Executives, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/top-executives.htm; General and Operations Managers, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017, https://www.bls.gov/oes/CURRENT/oes111021.htm
- General and Operations Managers, Occupational Information Network, accessed October 24, 2018, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/11-1021.00
- School pages, accessed October 24, 2018: Entrepreneurship (B.B.A.), University of North Dakota, https://und.edu/programs/entrepreneurship-bba/index.html; Entrepreneurship Degree, Ashford University, https://www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/business/bachelor-of-arts-entrepreneurship
- “What Kinds of People Start Business,” PsychologyToday.com, accessed 2013, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201307/what-kinds-people-start-businesses