How important is education as an entrepreneur?
The Bob Pritchard Column
Zuckerberg, Gates and Jobs are white, male, American, college dropouts, so college dropouts make successful entrepreneurs… well that’s the leap many people make. However, when you add Mason, Parsons, Brin, Page, Hurley, Yang, Cuban, Omidyar, Hastings, Wang and Bezos, now we are down around 20% and a lot less homogeneous.
In reality these stories about billionaire/millionaire drop-outs overlook the fact that there are 34 million college drop-outs you don’t hear about. This group is 71 percent more likely to be unemployed and four times more likely to default on student loans. Far from being millionaires, on average they earn 32 percent less than college graduates.
A minimum of 97% of startup entrepreneurs fail and the primary reason is a lack of skills in business disciplines. They may have great ideas but they don’t have the education or the experience to succeed.
Sure, there are some dropouts who do succeed:
Those who see an opportunity that exists in the moment and will not wait for three years until they complete their degree.
Those with unique personality traits which help in succeeding as an entrepreneur or have entrepreneurial parents and a network of family, friends and acquaintances who open doors and provide a safety net.
Exceptional individuals whose hard work, determination, and intelligence make up for the lack of a college degree.
But they are an extremely limited few. Making it a generalization and effectively encouraging kids to drop out of college is in my view extraordinarily irresponsible.
A new Australian study shows that over 80% of startup founders are university graduates. Sure, many students now want to start their own businesses and careers rather than work for someone else. But they take advantage of college courses that teach them the entrepreneurial skills they need to turn a clever idea into a new business. Startup Muster surveyed more than 600 startup founders to compile the report, with 64% having university-level software development skills and 61% in business. Marketing (37%), scientific research (13%), engineering (14%) and legal aptitude (11%) also featured.
The report also found that tertiary-educated entrepreneurs were also more likely to be founding cutting-edge startups in fields like medical technology, education and fintech.
The vast majority of kids, especially those from disadvantaged families, need college to improve their circumstances. A recent UCLA study found that those who are least likely to attend college, including kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, benefit most from a college education. For them, college is not a choice but a necessary and vital stepping-stone toward a future of opportunity. It is the platform from which whole families can be lifted to better prospects. College provides young adults with the intellectual capital to succeed and the social capital to help them make connections, build networks, and establish life-long relationships. It provides them with skills in analysis and reasoning combined with confidence that will lead them boldly to articulate and embrace new ideas. It transforms their perspectives, opening them up to different cultures, different world views, and different ways of seeing — and solving — some of the world’s most complex problems.
Far from being an obstacle to entrepreneurial success, a college education arms a person with the suite of skills necessary to capitalize on a great idea.
Let’s stop promoting Fake News !
Eighty-two percent of prisoners in the United States are high-school dropouts.