Competitive Advantage

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Competitive Advantage

Delivering Tips, Insights and Resources for Success

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Keys to Succeeding as an Entrepreneur


The rise of hustle culture has inspired a lot of people to launch their own companies. A recent survey revealed that 43% of Americans planned to become entrepreneurs in 2022. If you want to join this trend, you may wonder if you have the knowledge and preparation necessary to become your own boss. One of the most common questions aspiring business owners ask is, will a degree prepare me to be an entrepreneur?

Some people succeed as entrepreneurs without degrees, but getting an education allows you to gain confidence and business skills. This article explores the benefits of entrepreneurship and the biggest pitfalls of starting a business without a degree. We’ll also explore how the free Complete 2 Compete (C2C) program can help you return to college to complete your degree. This step allows you to gain the skills and know-how you need to position yourself for success in business and beyond. 

Crucial Skills for Entrepreneurs

If you want to become an entrepreneur, you’re in good company. Around 31 million Americans own a business, which means that 16% of the country’s adults have taken the leap to become their own bosses. If you want to own your own business, you could start small by selling handmade crafts on websites like Etsy, or dream big by launching a tech startup. 

No matter what product or service you have in mind, you’re probably wondering, what do I need to own a business? Here are four essential skills for all entrepreneurs: 

  • Internal Motivation: Many people perceive entrepreneurs as self-starters, and for a good reason. 38% of business owners report that self-discipline plays an essential role in their success. Earning a degree and setting goals will help you develop the drive to grow your company. 
  • Financial Literacy: Strong financial skills can help you manage your money wisely and grow your business long-term. You can prepare by learning how to create a budget, pitch your company to potential investors, and set competitive prices. You should also study the Internal Revenue Service’s tax regulations for entrepreneurs to ensure you understand how to deduct expenses and pay self-employment taxes.  
  • Build Connections: No business can thrive in a vacuum, so having an extensive professional network is essential. Start creating connections with your family, friends, and community members. Next, reach out to other professionals in your industry, to your teachers, and to hobbyists. These connections can help you learn about your industry and refer new customers to your business. Networking can also give you an edge over your competitors. According to the Harvard Business Review, most people’s professional networks decreased by 16% due to COVID-19. Forming connections can help your business stand out from the crowd. 
  • Time Management: Small business owners wear a lot of hats. In a single day, they may play the roles of boss, employee, human resource manager, accountant, and event planner. Juggle your tasks more efficiently by honing your time management skills. Start by learning how to develop and stick to project timelines and prioritize tasks. 

A degree will teach you all these skills and plenty of others that will contribute to your success as a small business owner. 

Dangers of Entrepreneurship Without a Degree 

Some people fantasize about skipping or leaving college to jumpstart their business. After all, many wildly successful entrepreneurs famously dropped out of college, including Rachael Ray, Mark Zuckerberg, and Lady Gaga. However, starting a business without a degree can lead to many pitfalls. Around 50% of businesses fail within five years. 

According to the Chamber of Commerce, ineffective marketing and management are two of the top reasons why small businesses fail. College classes allow you to hone management skills like communication, leadership, organization, and teamwork. Depending on your major, you can also gain marketing abilities like graphic design, photography, and video editing. If you don’t earn a degree, you’ll need to teach yourself these skills, which can be time-consuming and lead to significant knowledge gaps. 

You may also miss out on valuable networking opportunities if you launch a business without a degree. Many college programs encourage students to participate in professional development events like career fairs and internships. These experiences can help you form a professional network with your classmates, teachers, and industry professionals. Without these opportunities, you may be starting your business without support. 

Finally, many entrepreneurs lack confidence without a degree. A college degree boosts your self-esteem and gives you credibility with your clients and peers. C2C graduate Kimberly Luckett earned an associate’s degree in healthcare management and a bachelor’s in business administration. She explains that her education gave her the credibility to earn a promotion at her job, saying, “Before when I applied for positions at the central office, I wasn’t qualified enough to be considered since the administration was looking at an applicant’s education levels. So, a degree does make a difference!” No matter what career you pursue, increased confidence will motivate you to set bold goals and help you gain the respect of colleagues and customers. 

Earning a degree allows you to overcome these obstacles and make your vision a reality.  

Best Degrees for Entrepreneurship

A college degree is a smart investment to prepare for a new career as a small business owner. Here are the top five degrees for entrepreneurs

  • Entrepreneurship: Build business skills and gain hands-on experience by earning a degree in entrepreneurship. You’ll study subjects like accounting, marketing, and supply chain management. Get started by checking out entrepreneurship programs at the University of Mississippi, the University of Southern Mississippi, and Jackson State University
  • Business Administration: Learn how to operate efficient and profitable organizations with a business degree. Core courses typically cover business law, economics, and financial analysis. Many Mississippi colleges offer affordable business degrees, including Northwest Mississippi Community College and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
  • Communication: This major allows you to hone your oral, written, and visual communication skills. These abilities can help you sell your services to clients and develop compelling advertising materials. 
  • Marketing: As an entrepreneur, you must promote your business to clients and stakeholders. Learn how to sell your products or services with a marketing degree. You can take classes on helpful subjects like product management and public relations. 
  • University Studies: C2C students can complete a bachelor’s degree in University Studies. This degree offers flexible core requirements, so aspiring entrepreneurs can tailor their studies to include classes that will help them pursue their business dreams. 

All these degrees can give you a leg up as you start your business. As C2C graduate Zetella Gooch explains, “Knowledge is power. Getting more and more of it opens doors and makes you feel empowered to make a better future for yourself and your family. Complete 2 Compete is the perfect name… because you really do have to complete your degree to compete in the world today.” Set yourself up for entrepreneurial success by getting a degree. 

Build Your Business Skills With Complete 2 Compete

Entrepreneurs need confidence, a network, and skills to start a business successfully. Gain valuable experience and build connections with C2C. This innovative program helps adult Mississippians use their previous college courses and finish their degrees quickly. A C2C Coach can provide personalized career advice. Plus, you may be eligible for a C2C Grant that can reduce your tuition costs. 

Visit our website to read frequently asked questions and complete our easy application. With C2C’s help, you can take your business idea from a dream to reality.


C2C is a state program that helps Mississippi adults who previously attended college earn a degree and create a brighter future.